Movie Review
Eagle Eye
Eagle Eye poster
By Craig Younkin     Published September 27, 2008
US Release: September 26, 2008

Directed by: D.J. Caruso
Starring: Michelle Monaghan , Shia LaBeouf , Rosario Dawson , Billy Bob Thornton

PG-13 for intense sequences of action and violence, and for language.
Running Time: 118 minutes
Domestic Box Office: $101,111,837
I have to give this movie some credit and actually say that once it settled down and started to make some explanations, it actually seemed like a pretty good movie to me.
“Eagle Eye” represents the new age of techno-thriller action movies. The kind where just about any nerdy-looking actor can play the heroic lead. I’m not bad-mouthing Shia so shut the hell up. But you gotta admit, he doesn’t look like your traditional action hero and yet movies like “Transformers” and now this have put him into the drivers seat. Sure, “Indiana Jones and the Crystal Skull” could have done that too, but name a scene in that movie that didn’t look ridiculously fake. “Eagle” teams the young actor with director D.J. Caruso, who he worked with on “Disturbia," a talented cast that includes the sexy Michelle Monaghan, Michael Chiklis (so good in The Shield), Rosario Dawson, plus Billy Bob Thornton and two untested screenwriters in John Glenn and Travis Wright. Their plot sounds interesting though and it looks like an intense and fast-paced ride from the trailers but you wonder about movies like this, especially when it comes to the ending. Can it live up to the inventiveness of the rest of the film? Can the film live up to the grand-scale of the trailer?

Shia LaBeouf plays Jerry Shaw, a college dropout who likes to do things his own way. Unfortunately that attitude has left him alienated from his parents and working a minimum wage job at a photo-copy place, but he is about to have bigger problems. Upon returning home from his twin brother’s funeral, Jerry is shocked to find money in his bank account and a whole arsenal of weaponry and chemicals in his apartment. This makes him a prime target for questioning by both the FBI, led by Agent Thomas Morgan (Billy Bob Thornton), and the Air Force, for which his twin brother was a decorated and highly intelligent member. Another person also wants Jerry and that person is whoever belongs to the creepy automated female voice telling him what to do over the phone. Is she working alone? Who knows? But she is recruiting Jerry and young single mother Rachel Holloman (Michelle Monaghan) to do exactly what she says and she seems to have every technological device in her control and at her disposal. Not only that but if Jerry and Rachel disobey, they die.

As soon as I walked out of this movie, I knew people were going to start picking off all the ridiculous things about it. And of course they are, that’s the easy part. It’s unbelievable and it amounts to quite a big mess, and I was about to dismiss it myself at the half-way mark. The automated female voice has Jerry and Rachel jump through one ludicrous hoop after another including holding up a armored car and sliding all over the airport baggage claim, and combine that with a botched terrorist attempt, Jerry’s twin brother, a little orb-like explosive device, many FBI agents and Air Force personnel, and a secret government project and you can see what a huge lump of crap this movie has on its plate. And I haven’t even gotten to the action, which is one fast-paced, almost completely incoherent smash-up car chase after another by director D.J. Caruso that leaves you less thrilled and more concerned for the lives of the people in the horrific car crashes this movie shows.

And yet with all this, I have to give this movie some credit and actually say that once it settled down and started to make some explanations, it actually seemed like a pretty good movie to me. “Eagle Eye” really goes back and forth on trying to be taken seriously and trying to be taken as popcorn escapism and based on how it does finally manage to get us to think about government controls and technology, and surround all that stuff with an intense and compelling final half hour, I think it falls somewhere in the middle.

The movie is never boring either and its certainly watchable but its also hard to describe its real charms without really giving too much away. I make it seem more bad than good in this review but despite being a ridiculous mess, it does have some ambition to it as well. The actors just walk through their roles though, some looking panic-stricken (Shia has become very good at it by now) while others look seriously pissed (Billy Bob is always good for a one-liner like “if you screw this up, your getting demoted to a job where you have to handle shit with your hands”), but no one really stands out at all.

“Eagle Eye” could have been a better film overall but you can see that it’s a thriller that, even when it's being completely ridiculous, it eagerly wants you to know that it has something on its mind. Just what that is really doesn’t take full effect till the second half of the movie but up until that point it's not entirely un-enjoyable.
Craig's Grade: B-
Craig's Overall Grading: 340 graded movies
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