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EAGLE EYE(director: D.J. Caruso; screenwriters: John Glenn/Travis Wright/Hillary Seitz/Dan McDermott; cinematographer: Dariusz Wolski; editor: Jim Page; music: Brian Tyler; cast: Shia LaBeouf (Jerry Shaw), Michelle Monaghan (Rachel Holloman), Rosario Dawson (Zoe Perez), Michael Chiklis (Defense Secretary Callister), Anthony Mackie (Major William Bowman), Ethan Embry (Agent Toby Grant), Billy Bob Thornton (Agent Thomas Morgan); Runtime: 118; MPAA Rating: PG-13; producers: Pat Crowley/Alex Kurtzman/Edward McDonnell/Roberto Orci; DreamWorks SKG; 2008)
“A loud, muddled and empty sci-fi thriller.”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

A loud, muddled and empty sci-fi thriller that’s derivative and makes no sense though it covers real territory from today’s newspaper headlines. It favors us with fake excitement over nothing much to follow. It also favors us with poor acting by the leads, Shia LaBeouf and Michelle Monaghan, who play harried innocent victims thrown together by strange circumstances and have a romance that’s not warranted since they have no chemistry together.

Hack director D.J. Caruso (“Disturbia”/”Taking Lives”/”The Salton Sea”) takes the Michael Bay route in filming a non-stop action thriller and comes up with the same preposterous big explosion nonsense. The team of writers responsible for the ridiculous plot, unoriginal stale story and trite dialogue are John Glenn, Travis Adam Wright, Hillary Seitz and Dan McDermott, who keep it predictably formulaic as a race-against-time thriller (How many times can Hollywood run that by us?). For a brief second or two the film flashes concern about the newest technology being used to invade the privacy of its citizens, but quickly turns the Big Brother scenario into a silly and far-fetched thriller about a slacker saving the United States from a cyberspace terrorist attack (the unseen enemy is a Hal-like in-beta national security supercomputer known as Aria, that’s gone amok). It’s War Games without a sense of direction of where it’s heading.

Jerry Shaw (Shia LaBeouf) is a Stanford dropout who traveled aimlessly around the world and now the impoverished slacker works in a Chicago copy store, and is estranged from his middle-class family over his lack of ambition. His brilliant twin brother Ethan, working in a top secret high post in the military, is run over by a truck and Jerry attends his funeral. Depositing a check his concerned dad slipped him at an ATM machine, the shocked Jerry finds 750K in his previous busted bank account. When he returns to his Chicago apartment to pay his kindly landlady the back rent, his apartment is filled with high-tech military gear and a mysterious woman on his cell phone warns him the counter-terrorist wing of the FBI is on the way to arrest him as a terrorist and his only chance of escape is to follow her orders. When he balks, the FBI’s counter-terrorist unit arrests him and he’s grilled for being a terrorist by flaky Agent Thomas Morgan (Billy Bob Thornton). The cellphone lady calls again to warn him to duck under the table as the blast is just seconds away and soon the room where Jerry’s held has a giant hole in it made by an explosion and quicker than you can say North by Northwest our boy Jerry is the framed innocent on the run. He will soon follow cellphone directed orders and meet up in a shiny new black Porsche Cayenne with a fellow Illinois target of the cellphone lady, the divorced single mother and para-legal Rachel Holloman (Michelle Monaghan). She has just put her beloved freckled eight-year-old, Sam (Cameron Boyce), on a train to Washington DC, where he’s playing with his school band at the Kennedy Center as the President is making an important address on terrorism. Rachel’s told by the cellphone lady that if she doesn’t follow directions, her son will be killed.

The rest of the film has Jerry and Rachel ending up in Washington DC and trying to figure out what’s going down and why they were chosen and how should they react to the cellphone lady; while Agent Morgan is in on this chase as well as is airport security Agent Zoe Perez (Rosario Dawson) and a number of other well-placed civilians, military personal and the beleaguered Secretary of Defence (Michael Chiklis).

It’s the kind of popcorn movie where the plot is irrelevant and the ending is all too familiar; in fact a viewer could go to the refreshment stand many times and not miss a thing when returning with his or her popcorn. Better yet, try to miss this film and save yourselves a headache from all the noise, shrill chatter and having to part with around ten bucks for the ticket.


Dennis Schwartz: “Ozus’ World Movie Reviews”