dir: D.J. Caruso
[img_assist|nid=148|title=Yes, I am interested in making savings on my long distance phonecalls|desc=|link=none|align=right|width=300|height=300]
See, there's precious little I can say about this flick, and about why it's so tedious, and why it's so unsatisfying but still adequate, without giving the whole game away. As in, there's a basic spoiler so spoilerish in its basic spoilerishness that to not say it means I've got nothing else to say about the film apart from mocking it in general and Shia LeBeouf specifically, and that the review itself will not be fulfilling its fundamental obligation to you, the dear reader: telling you what the film is about so you can decide whether to invest two hours of your precious life or not.
Or maybe I can manage it, who knows. Let's see, shall we?
A guy called Jerry (Shia) who's a bit of a bum, a bit of a shmendrick at that, is caught up in some grand conspiracy where some virtually omniscient woman on the phone forces him to do her bidding. At first she's getting him to do stuff just to protect him from the FBI, who soon become involved when he's found to have tonnes of explosives in his apartment. If nothing else, watching those early 'exciting' bits of the movie, I was reminded of the fact that I haven't watched The Matrix in a while. You know, the bit where Morpheus is talking to Neo on the phone at his place of work before the Agents show up. It's somewhat similar.
Of course, when I was forced to think about that, I was also reminded how much I hated the last movie in that fucking trilogy. Damn you, Wachowski Brother and Sister, damn you both to hell!
But then when Jerry and young mother called Rachel (Michelle Monaghan) start being forced to jump through more elaborate hoops and perform other convoluted actions and go places quickly, it becomes obvious that this sexy all-seeing, all knowing technologically adept woman on the phone has a dark agenda at play. She seems to be compelling them to do something which will kill most of the government. Of the United States of America!
That's just naughty, that is. No, this isn't an episode or an entire season of 24, it's just a silly film about how unscrupulous entities can really fuck up your day using technology.
Technology which is both far beyond anything possible now, and horribly dated. How/why is it horribly dated? Because fuck you, Shia, Sandra Bullock got there first with The Net, way back when she was America's Sweetheart. When she thrilled us with Speed, touched our hearts and perineums with While You Were Sleeping, and taught us that technology was bad with The Net.
So much for you saving America, Shia LaBeouf. And how dare you act in more movies after appearing in Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Please Gods Make It Stop? If Shia were a rugby or ice hockey player, the referee would have sent him to the penalty box / sin bin until he was in his fifties for being part of that travesty of all travesties. It couldn't have been worse if he'd turned up to work dressed as the sweet transvestite Frankenfurter from the Rocky Horror Picture Show, a film I find only marginally less likable than that last Indiana Jones flick.
In retrospect, maybe Eagle Eye isn't so bad...
Of course it's riddled with holes of the plot variety, but every movie is, especially these kinds of techno thrillers. And of course Shia is, in these flicks, in shitty actor mode. He's not good. I'm sure he'll eventually put in some decent performances down the track, but he hasn't managed to be anything less than a screeching she-monkey in anything I've seen him in thus far.
But a flick like this isn't about acting, it's about momentum. And during the flick's passable moments, unbelievable and flat out ludicrous as much of the action is, the pace is kept up. It's when it slows down that it suffers, when Shia and Michelle get to emote at each other, in way that can only be described as cringeworthy.
Billy Bob Thornton, who looks so very, very old in this, plays an FBI agent who at first thinks Jerry is a terrorist, but then starts to come around to the terrifying conclusion that Jerry is not a terrorist, and that he really is as dumb as he looks. The notion that Billy Bob Thornton plays any important role in anything immediately calls into question whether you're using your time wisely. He scenery-chews so much I'm surprised he didn't wear out his dentures.
Rosario Dawson also has a thankless role as some kind of Air Force investigator, whose sole purpose is to balance out the soul searing ugliness onscreen by appearing next to such worthy character actors as Billy Bob and Michael Chiklis, who has the thankless role of a non-evil Donald Rumsfeld / Dick Cheney.
A non-evil Dick Cheney substitute is like have alcohol-free alcohol. No fun for anyone concerned. And it's thankless.
If the flick has a point beyond convincing us that Shia shouldn't be acting, it's that the War on Terror could potentially have resulted in steps being taken that ultimately harmed America more than it protected America from harm. Since the sun is surely setting on that golden age known as the Bush Era of Error, it feels almost quaint to be reminded that when launching Predator drone strikes at people who all look the same to you even with the benefit of billion dollar satellites, you might kill civilians and not the target you were after. Which is bad. But necessary in the War on etc etc.
It's like watching Red Dawn and being reminded that some Americans did actually fear being invaded by those pesky Russkies. With vodka and AKs they are going to win the day!
These paranoid thrillers have their place. Usually it's on late night television, but with a budget and decent pacing, they can work wonders. If they'd maybe cut out about twenty minutes, I probably would have rated this a tad higher. As it stands, it's still ludicrous and technophobic in an unintentionally humorous way. But it's not a complete disaster, despite all the evidence to the contrary.
That faint praise having been dealt with, this flick is hackwork by a director I usually loathe of the highest order, with an idiotic premise and a villain even dumber than Shia LeBeouf looks. I don’t mean that the villain is unintelligent; far from it. The villain is very smart, oh so smart. But that villain being the villain in this story, in this kind of story, is lazy and stupid. Beyond lazy and stupid. What’s beyond lazy and stupid? Well, it’s something of the magnitude of me lying on the couch hungover as fuck on a Sunday afternoon incapable of thought or even action more complex that press buttons on a remote control.
6 times Shia really should have ended up wearing a paper hat and asking you if you want fries with your meal as his true calling in life out of 10
“Jerry Shaw, you have been activated. Your compliance is vital.” – Eagle Eye.