The Bourne Ultimatum (Widescreen Edition) and Minority Report (Widescreen Edition) both produced similar moments which I really dug, in which a near omniscient character guides his/her fleeing companion and does so with such exquisite timing and pinpoint accuracy that capture is thereby avoided (Jason Bourne in one film, that psychic chick in the other). EAGLE EYE is one extended version of these two moments, and, guess what, it doesn't get old.
I guess this could happen, government voyeurism, what with how advanced technology's gotten. In fact, I've no doubt this is happening right now. EAGLE EYE presents a twisty plot, the soup of which blends Big Brother paranoia, the techno thriller, the shadow of terrorism, a whiff of Skynet, and the classic man on the run theme. EAGLE EYE tells of two strangers - Jerry Shaw, the slacker copy boy (excuse me, "copy associate") from Copy Cabana and Rachel, the stressed single mom/paralegal - suddenly flung together by a mysterious (and dang pushy) female who gives them brisk instructions over their cell phones, forcing them to frenetically run and jump around, drive like they've got to use the bathroom, hold up a pair of security guards for a briefcase (of which contents are a letdown, by the way), and even sneak onboard a military cargo plane. And those are just for starters...
The most intriguing part of the film, for me, was learning what was up with the voicy voice, who's cornered Jerry by framing him as a terrorist and cornered Rachel by threatening to kill her son. Much of the suspense leaks out once the film drops the 411 on the cell phone taskmaster. EAGLE EYE is escapist cinema which may have started out intending to make some sort of significant political and social statement but then kind of shrugged it off halfway thru the film. There's no dearth of far-fetched moments (like, on the train, where there just happened to be a conveniently snoozing stranger with a celly sitting right across from Shia or Rachel being so out-of-the-blue capable with a firearm). But the third act really goes ape-shiznit with the preposterous as the Big Bad's plans coalesce and imperil the nation's highest offices. The film's big crescendo echoes the climax scene from Hitchcock's The Man Who Knew Too Much.
Will Smith's ENEMY OF THE STATE and the Bourne series have already demonstrated that the government can check up on us by accessing security, surveillance, and traffic cameras, as well as cell phones. EAGLE EYE one-ups these films by featuring an antagonist who is more far reaching, more omnipresent. The voice not only can track any person anytime, anywhere, by tapping into the nation's electronic data grid, but she can remotely control stop lights, steer elevated trains, set off power lines, and even take over military aircrafts. When our heroes go on the run (and don't really have time to chat on the cell), they get helpful directions from various electronic billboard signs, readout displays and monitor screens. So, unless you're Amish, there's no escaping the nagging voice.
Shia LaBeouf lost some cred with me for his vine-swinging part in the latest Indiana Jones flick. Here, he's decent but this really isn't a platform to show off his acting chops, slave as the picture is to the quick cut edits, flashy stunts and loud pyrotechnics. LaBeouf's characer has a few moments to do his surly, angst-ridden bit (what with his dead twin brother being the brighter light in the family), but he and lead actress Michelle Monaghan actually come off more as chess pieces being shuffled about by the all powerful entity to progress its murky end game. Julianne Moore plays the mysterious voice on the phone, managing to sound impersonal yet officiously sexy. Billy Bob Thornton is good as the undeterred FBI guy and Rosario Dawson is wasted as Air Force OSI Agent Zoey Perez trying to piece it all together. Thornton, by the way, comes up with the best line in the film, as he chews out his underlings: "If I don't get some good leads soon, you're all gonna be demoted into something that's gonna require touching $#!t with your hands!"
So, why am I four-starring this film? Because, in spite of the over-the-top beats, I got hooked into the premise enough that I had to see it thru to the end. And it may be loud and sometimes incoherent, but, damn if I didn't enjoy the wild ride. I think the key is that the film moves at such a frenetic pace that it forces you to shift your focus from one sequence to the next. You might just have enough time to ponder the implausibility of whatever's on the screen, but then you almost immediately get distracted with the next implausible thing on the screen. It's sleight-of-hand trickeration, is what it is. And, in the final tally, I had a good time (and, yes, part of the good time was spent making fun of the film).
As for the government accessing our electronic devices, that would certainly explain why I'm so sucky at Tetris on my cell phone. Now I see that it's the government conducting cyber terrorism. Those finks.