Thursday, September 25, 2008

"Eagle Eye"

Before it gets irredeemably stupid in its final 15 minutes, starts abandoning logic and instead focuses on blowing shit up real good, "Eagle Eye" is a truly fun, far-fetched, slick bit of popcorn paranoia entertainment. I don't want to say much about the plot, since I don't want to spoil things, but it all centers around Jerry Shaw (a scruffy-for-the-better Shia LaBeouf) and Rachel (Michelle Monaghan), two strangers brought together by a phone call. Jerry's just buried his twin brother that morning, when he receives a call from a monotonously-voiced woman telling him to leave his apartment immediately, and that the F.B.I. will be there in 30 seconds. Rachel has just put her wee son on a train to Washington D.C., when the same woman gives her a call telling her unless she follows orders, her son will be killed. The two are eventually brought together, and sent on a wild (and quite loud) goose chase, following instructions at all costs, all while they're chased by two counter-terrorism agents (Billy Bob Thornton in "Armageddon" mode, and a useless Rosario Dawson), who can't figure out why Jerry and Rachel are doing what they're doing. The credits don't reveal who plays the voice on the other end of Shia and Michelle's phones, but it sounded a hell of a lot like Julianne Moore to me. I'm sure we'll find out in the days ahead, but my money's on Moore.

I was entertained all the way through "Eagle Eye," but the less mysterious/ambiguous the shenanigans' orchestrator(s) became, the more I began to slump in my seat and my eyes began to roll. It's not a sudden shift though; When the film's twist is revealed a bit more than halfway through, it all starts to feel a bit ludicrous and silly, but the movie maintains its credibility by the skin of its teeth. However, the final reel is almost a complete wash, as the movie finally embraces its' dumbest, least interesting impulses, mostly abandoning its prescient, relevant themes in favor of full-on Michael Bay territory. I entered the theater with minimal knowledge about the plot -- I only knew what the trailer told me -- and I think that's for the better. Much of the film's fun and suspense is predicated on unanswered questions and who/what is causing all this. And don't get me wrong, when "Eagle Eye's" cooking, it is a lot of fun. Though one early car smash-up action scene is virtually incoherent, for the most part, dumbed-down "Transformers"-esque antics are avoided, and the heavy-verging-on-convoluted plot mechanics are what keep us involved. Thankfully, the movie moves along at such a breakneck pace, that it's only on the ride home that you realize there's about a dozen things that happened that didn't make a lick of sense.


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