The story of Big Brother watching and controlling all of the helpless citizens in Eagle Eye might be more effective if it weren't quite so preposterous. That said, this movie intends to thrill and entertain, and it succeeds on all counts. It holds your attention with all the plot twists and the bombardment of explosions, the kind of explosions that make a certain audience cheer. Eagle Eye will probably not be an award-winner, but it's great for when you want to totally escape with a loud, ridiculous, big ol' Hollywood popcorn flick.
For starters, the two leads are seriously likable. I so enjoy watching Michelle Monaghan in pretty much anything (even crap like Made of Honor) because she seems so comfortable on screen. She's like someone we all might know. Not average, really, but familiar in a comforting way — smart, nurturing, sweet, tough. And Shia LaBeouf is utterly adorable in this film. It doesn't ask much of him, but he delivers nicely nonetheless. He plays Jerry Shaw, a slacker living in Chicago and having trouble making ends meet. The sudden death of his estranged twin brother Ethan sets off a series of baffling occurrences for Jerry, starting with a strange woman contacting him on the phone just as he's being set up to look like a terrorist. Oh, this is only the beginning, though, so
It turns out the strange woman is forcing Jerry to do her bidding or else get caught by the authorities. As long as he does what she says, he's safe from the police who have plenty of (planted) evidence to lock Jerry away for good. Single mother Rachel Holloman has been similarly summoned by this woman, and she and Jerry are thrown together on a crazy, mysterious chase at the instruction of a disembodied voice which, unbelievably, is able to manipulate any form of technology (making signs flash instructions to Jerry, turning all the traffic lights to green so they can rush through them, etc.) in order to speed up their journey and confound the police and FBI who are hot on their trail.
The woman's voice leads the two straight into an actual terrorist plot, an act of revenge for an impulsive and wrongful bombing of innocent people by the US. What follows is a convoluted string of twists, turns, and (usually) death-defying stunts, and all for what? The answer is pretty silly, but I won't spoil it for you here.
People always say that there's no original story left in Hollywood and that it all depends on how filmmakers reassemble old ideas. Eagle Eye completely borrows from other movies and churns out clichéd moments left and right. And yet, that doesn't diminish the fact that it's still compelling to find out how this technology controls and manipulates these humans, and how the humans desperately try to win anyway.
There's an attempt at some kind of political statement with this movie, but it doesn't quite make it. And that's fine. At some point you understand that this is pure entertainment and nothing else. It's one of those times when you can resign yourself to the silliness of it all and be swept away in the zooming car chases and frantic search for answers, or not. It's not artful, by any means, but as far as action movies go, it's not too shabby. Not too shabby at all.
Photos courtesy of Paramount Pictures