wants to be a cross between The Game
(1997) and Enemy of the State
(1998), but as it grinds on with one derivative action set piece after another it begins to feel much closer to Fair Game
(1995), a middling thriller kept going through the implausible idea that a computer can overcome every plot obstacle which might otherwise require a dash of screenwriter cleverness to keep the story moving.
This is a lazy and dispiriting way to plot a film. All your protagonists do for a hundred minutes is react. Rather than move the action, nudge the story, and force events — the fun stuff in an action film – the characters become about as necessary as the explosions.
Worse still, this deadening lack of cleverness spills over to our villain. The writers of Eagle Eye
equip her with god-like control over all things so that with the push of a button she can inexplicably choreograph a massive car chase through urban streets through the use of stoplights and giant cranes. All our protagonists do is look panicked as they’re led through a funhouse of smashed metal. No brains required, enjoy the ride.Shia LeBeouf
is at the center of all this as Jerry Shaw, a young man full of potential but wasting it away working in a generic copy store. Upon returning to his small apartment he discovers a domestic terrorist’s wet dream waiting for him in the form of floor-to-ceiling packages containing weapons and bomb-making materials. Right away his phone rings and a woman sounding an awful lot like Julianne Moore warns that the FBI is on the way to arrest him and he has only a few seconds to escape.
He doesn’t, which is good because the agent in charge is Billy Bob Thornton
and he’s the only piece of energy around playing a take-charge, no B.S. character overly reminiscent of Tommy Lee Jones in The Fugitive
Soon, another innocent party is thrown into mix. Michelle Monaghan
is Rachel, the single mother of a young boy on his way to D.C. for a band concert. After she puts the boy on a train her phone rings and the woman who sounds an awful lot like Julianne Moore threatens the boy unless Rachel does exactly as she’s told — which is to find Jerry and do what they’re told together.
Another problem is the supposed relationship that develops between Rachel and Jerry. Because LeBeouf, no matter how much facial scruff he grows, will always be a boy and Monaghan comes across as a grown woman, the only chemistry is of a creepy nature. The relationship simply isn’t believable.
The film is surprisingly watchable, however. The pace never slows and there’s a chase in the massive luggage delivery system of an airport that’s both exciting and imaginative. But too often you roll your eyes at how easy the deus ex machina computer saves the day when you’d much prefer to enjoy the characters thinking their way out. Also, when the characters do act it rarely makes sense. Are we to believe a single mother and a copy boy can break into the U.S, Capitol or successfully overwhelm trained guards carrying national security secrets?
The film has a theme and naturally when you’re dealing with liberal Hollywood during a time of war it must be one that attempts to undermine our security, President, and country. We’re told in a booming moment of exposition that sometimes what we do to safeguard our liberty undermines our liberty.
More brave second guessing from Bel-Air. Yawn.
The film has no alternatives solutions as to how we might remain safe. It’s simply there to pompously scold the Bush administration and insure that the filmmakers (including producer Steven Spielberg) continue to receive backslaps at all the right cocktail parties even for a movie that plays about as well as one written by a computer — and not a very smart one.