DreamWorks // 2008 // 117 Minutes // Rated PG-13
Reviewed by Judge David Johnson // January 9th, 2009
It's the Patriot Act's f-ing fault!
Apparently the idea for this movie had been germinating in Steven Spielberg's head for like 20 years. Maybe it wasn't as stale and ridiculous then.
Shia LaBeouf (Transformers) reteams with director DJ Caruso, following their effective Hitchcockian collaboration Disturbia, for a bigass Hollywood actioner featuring horrifying car wrecks, dramatic foot chases, and super jets firing missiles at vans.
Shia plays Jerry, an underachieving loser who works a meaningless job and barely makes the rent. One night, he walks into his apartment to find it full of explosives and terrorist-grade weapons, and then gets call from a mysterious woman who tells him to run. From that point on, Jerry is off to the races, guided by this disembodied voice. He eventually joins up with someone in a similar situation, Rachel (Michelle Monaghan), who's found her weird-looking kid threatened.
Who is behind this craziness?
First thing you need to know about this movie is that it's ludicrous. Like, ludicrously ludicrous. I have a high tolerance for credibility-stretching on-screen shenanigans, but the tomfoolery that goes down in Eagle Eye makes the Audi-midair-flip-bomb-disarmed-by-a-crane-hook craziness from Transporter 2 look like an episode of The House of Eliott. There's a big twist that shows up about two-thirds of the way through and it changes the genre from political-action-thriller to, I guess, scifi-WTF-action-thriller and that might be the point where the film loses most people. Then again, prior to all this, Jerry and Rachel were driving through a scrap yard as autonomous cranes were grabbing pursuing cop cars and tossing them into the ocean, so more than a few audience members may have checked their brains by then. Also, I can't remember the last PG-13 action movie that included as much potentially lethal collateral damage from its action set-pieces.
Whatever. By the end of its too long two-hour runtime, Eagle Eye sufficiently entertained me, even if it wasn't nearly as clever as it thought it was. Though the Pentagon goobledygook and boring character cultivation lollygagged, and the narrative twists were less clever scripting and more smoke and mirrors, when Caruso kicked his creation into a higher gear, the flick crackled with energy. As out-there as the car chases and explosions were, I was amused, and the finale was surprisingly taut (SPOILER: though why wait for the last note of the song to pull off your sinister scheme? Hasn't anyone at the Pentagon ever watched War Games?! Even the edited-for-TV version?). Oh, and sign me up for the Jonas Brothers Fan Club Newsletter if you must, but I like Shia Labeouf and he was good here.
For all of its faults as a coherent movie-going experience, this sucker was made for the A/V fury that Blu-ray can provide. Scoring a dark, but noticeably enhanced 2.35:1 HD upgrade (MPEG-4 encoded), the film's transfer is definitely worth a look. Though the detailing can get lost in the darkness of the action, when Caruso sheds light on the happenings, the BD payoff really shows. Close-ups of the actors reveal every ounce of product that was lathered in LaBeouf's hair and the staggering enormity of Michelle Monaghan's lips. Colors were sharp, but boring (because of Caruso's stylistic choices: think lots of orange). Blacks were thick, thankfully, since the film is drowning in them. A crisp, aggressive audio mix accompanies, headlined by a TrueHD 5.1 mix that handles the action with suitable fanfare -- you'll feel the bass and the clean use of the surrounds adds to the spectacle.
Extras are hurt by a lack of commentary, though the featurettes (in HD) aren't bad: a making-of documentary, location shooting, a one-on-one interview between Caruso and John Badham, a disposable three-minute montage of on-set footage, and a goofy segment where the actors and filmmakers bemoan the prevalence of Big Brother. My favorite moments: every time "grounded in reality" is used to describe the film. A foul-mouth gag reel (F-bombs bleeped) and some deleted scenes, including one of the worst alternate endings I've ever seen, round it all out.
Thumbs down for the brutal Circuit City product placement, when (as the script calls for) our heroes enter a franchise store to watch a secret message while the helpful employee drones on and on over the loudspeaker about the awesome prices and the helpfulness of the Firedog computer service. Hey I understand advertising and I think capitalism is pretty great, but can't we make it a little less obvious?
Eagle Eye is empty calorie fun that will obliterate the suspension of disbelief, though its Blu-ray release should appeal to technophiles.
Not guilty, I guess, but only because I'm probably being watched.
Review content copyright © 2009 David Johnson; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2013 HipClick Designs LLC
Scales of Justice
* 2.35:1 Non-Anamorphic (1080p Widescreen)
* TrueHD 5.1 Surround (English)
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (French)
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (Spanish)
Running Time: 117 Minutes
Release Year: 2008
MPAA Rating: Rated PG-13
* Gag Reel
* Deleted Scenes