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Review

‘Eagle Eye’ fails to live up to expectations

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October 2, 2008

There was a time when American cinema was a gold mine of opportunity — filmdom’s fountain of youth. But now, as the well of fresh ideas begins to dry up, we as viewers are left with little more than recycled bits of yesteryear filmmaking repackaged into CGI-glorified digital litter.  The prevailing notion of cookie-cutter filmmakers is to distract our attention so we won’t see the magician’s sleight-of-hand as the wool is pulled deftly over our eyes, blinding us to the truth that the once ever-present spark of originality has flickered out, and that an industry once ripe with fresh ideas has gone sour.

“Eagle Eye” is a blatant violator. The politically directed script sounds more like a Ron Paul campaign speech than Hollywood fiction. It reveals itself as nothing more than a homicidal computer action flick clone peppered with warnings off governmental control. Films such as “Colossus” and “2001,” masterpieces that first presented the idea of man against machine, committed an original sin, opening up Pandora’s Box and unleashing a torrent of insignificant copycats.

Jerry Shaw (Shia LaBeouf) is a college drop-out. His job at Copy Cabana is taking him nowhere but he refuses help even from his parents. His life is a one-way train for destitute when he arrives home to his cramped apartment to find it packed with enough terrorist weaponry to make Osama blush. Quickly arrested by the FBI, Jerry escapes with the help of a mysterious female caller; one who can control every electronic device around him.

Rachel Halloman (Michelle Monaghan) is a depressed single mother struggling with her dead-end job and deadbeat ex-husband. The only thing she has going for her is her son, Sam. But when a mysterious female caller rings with a list of demands and a threat against Sam’s life, Rachel is forced to play along.

Both Jerry and Rachel are thrust into a digital game of follow the leader, as the pair must trust this strange caller over their own instincts.

Director D.J. Caruso starts off his deadly game of cat and mouse intriguingly enough. The pitch-perfect initial suspense is further buoyed by a manic film style resembling the cinematic offspring of Michael Mann and Ridley Scott.

But this stylistic flair can’t save a botched script – once it’s revealed that this is just another man vs. computer gone haywire story, any ounce of intrigue is ripped away, violently. From there, it becomes a film of attrition, attempting to weaken your resistance to its absurd   “Stealth”-wannabe story arc by blasting you with increasingly frantic action fragments.

But “Eagle Eye” doesn’t stop there. By the end credits, you’ll feel insulted by poor pacing, the juvenile storyline (complete with the easy-way-out ending) and enough shameless product placement to make NASCAR jealous.

“Eagle Eye” starts out with a bang, races too quickly towards a non-existent peak but blows its load way too early. The politically heavy ending note tries to sucker viewers with the guise of thought-provoking drama but I’m not biting – “Eagle Eye” is nothing more than a cinematic child trying to be accepted in an adult’s world.

Ken Weigend is an alumnus of UW-River Falls. He was editor of the Student Voice during spring semester 2010.