Image Entertainment // 2010 // 102 Minutes // Rated R
Reviewed by Judge Maurice Cobbs (Retired) // July 16th, 2010
Nowhere to run. Nowhere to hide.
You know, the first thing that sprang to mind when I read the premise of Richard Clabaugh's Eyeborgs was, "Who the heck watches all those cameras?" You'd need a staff at least the size of the entire U.S. Federal Government working in shifts just to watch all those cameras; just to watch them, never mind the kind of support staff that would be necessary to keep the whole system up and running. Mindboggling. Personally, I don't see how it would be possible without increasing the number of government employees to about a bijillion and a half, which would mean that practically everybody would work for the government, most of them as camera-watchers, bleary-eyed and jittery from too much coffee. Which would mean that there would be practically no private sector to watch after the government had hired enough employees to do the watching, which would mean that the watchers would pretty much be watching themselves. And not just watching themselves, but watching themselves watching themselves watching themselves...a giant oppressive perpetual-motion government, existing for the primarily for the sake of continuing its own existence, a vast self-perpetuating bureaucracy staffed by a bajillion and a half people paying taxes on the pay they receive for their jobs, funded by tax money. Almost an entire nation of citizens working for the government and paying themselves to watch each other watch each other on behalf of the government. Where the hell is Kafka when you need him?
Department of Homeland Security Agent "Gunner" Reynolds (Adrian Paul, from TV's Highlander) helped establish the Optical Defense Intelligence Network after losing his family in a terrorist attack. Now with practically all forms of communication under constant scrutiny and every camera in the country linked together, along with a veritable army of mobile camera units called 'eyeborgs', Americans should be safer than ever. But while investigating an assassination attempt on the President's punk-rocker nephew Jarrett (Luke Ebrel), Gunner finds that he and a tenacious investigative reporter (Megan Blake) may be on the verge of uncovering a shocking conspiracy...But can the unlikely trio discover the truth about the sinister eyeborgs in time to prevent the assassination of the President himself?
Wherever that slippery ol' son-of-a-gun Kafka is hiding out, the government could probably find him with the help of O.D.I.N., the Optical Defense Intelligence Network, that was established in the wake of terrorist attacks sometime in the 'near future'...sci-fi political satire-speak for 'now'. Thanks to the Freedom of Observation Act, the government now keeps constant watch over us in order to protect us. Even in the future, it seems, they hate us for our freedoms. Not the terrorists; politicians. The film has a litany of admittedly legitimate gripes about the increasing pervasiveness of government regulation and oversight in our private lives. The Freedom of Observation Act, for instance, was another piece of legislation that was passed by congressmen who hadn't actually read it, another one of those things where you had to wait until after it was passed before you found out what was in it. Well, nevermind; it's for the good of society, and besides, if you have nothing to hide, you have nothing to fear. It's for the children, and if you're not with us, you're against us. You don't want to sound like some sort of paranoid anti-government fringe wingnut, do you? Of course not. Let's go invade one of the 'Stans. I think they've got oil.
As it turns out, paranoid anti-government fringe wingnut and ace guitar repairman G-Man (Danny Trejo) and his buddies actually did read the legislation, and what they've found is that the eyeborgs aren't just around to watch what we do. Do the crawly little cameras have their own sinister agenda? Or are they working towards someone else's sinister agenda? The only thing we know for sure is that someone somewhere has a sinister agenda, because if there's one thing we've learned from science fiction, in the future all politicians have a sinister agenda, even if it's as petty as just getting re-elected. This sinister agenda seems to involve the eyeborgs killing people, even going so far as to generate fake camera footage to cover up their perfidy. As is usually the case with massive conspiracies, the conspiracy seems to be somewhat less-than-subtle and far more trouble than it's worth; even a wild-eyed would-be assassin notes early in the film that computerized voting would be easy enough to manipulate to ensure political dominance...ah, but that sort of conspiracy wouldn't really allow for much of a body count, and what fun is a killer robot movie without a body count?
With all due respect to Adrian Paul, the eyeborgs are the stars of this show. There are several varieties of the things, from cute li'l *batteries not included versions to bigger spider- or crab-like types that seem to perform other forensic evidence-gathering when they're not murdering you, and a couple of neat combat models that get showcased in the big man-versus-machine shootout battle. These things look great; you might have expected from the title something on par with a Syfy Saturday-night schlockfest, but Eyeborgs actually deserves to be better regarded. Obviously, the filmmakers were working with limited resources, and they utilize those resources rather well. Director Claybough wears his politics on his sleeve, but to his credit, the film never becomes too preachy or gets bogged down trying to score ideological points. The end result is a fast-paced, competently-acted b-movie that's slick enough to keep you invested and keep your disbelief suspended until after the movie's over, when you'll doubtless be deluged by a series of refrigerator moments (Hitchcock's term for delayed plot-hole recognition, the sort of things you only think about when the movie's over and you've gone to the fridge for a snack and the light bulb goes off both in the fridge and in your head: "Now, wait just a minute...).
Oh, for the long-ago days of the practically prehistoric 1980s, when B-grade sci-fi dressed up in ham-fisted satiric political commentary was the rule, not the exception. Personally, I've always skewed more towards convoluted time-travel flicks; the more nonsensical, the better -- 12 Monkeys, anyone? But I've never turned my nose up at a good juicy robots-gone-homicidal movie (well, I turned my nose up at I, Robot, but I still watched it) and as long as I'm still able to function without a life support, I never will. I'm certainly not going to turn my nose up at this one. Granted, it's nowhere near as awesome as Runaway, but to be fair, what is? Still, what we have here is a solid, thoroughly enjoyable offering that has some rough bits, and the 'tomato surprise' at the end is sort of easy to figure out before hand, but movies like that are better, anyway, because they make you feel smarter than you are.
As if it matters. As if you're not gonna watch a movie called
Eyeborgs. Who are you kidding? For the record, though...Not Guilty.
Review content copyright © 2010 Maurice Cobbs; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2013 HipClick Designs LLC
Scales of Justice
Studio: Image Entertainment
* 2.35:1 Anamorphic
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)
Running Time: 102 Minutes
Release Year: 2010
MPAA Rating: Rated R
* Deleted Scenes
* Official Website