Pros: It crashes cars real good.
Cons: Couldn't sell us on the basic premise.
Eagle Eye (2008) Directed by D. J. Caruso.
"Jerry Shaw, you have been activated. Compliance is vital. Disobey, and you die."
Jerry Shaw (Shia LeBeouf) is a slacker working a dead end job at the Copy Cabana and dodging his landlady. Then he gets the news that his twin brother has died. He is of course devastated. Then he goes to the ATM and discovers his account has $750,000 in it. When he gets home, his apartment if full of guns and ammonium nitrate fertilizer. And a mysterious woman on his cell phone tells him he has thirty seconds to get out before the FBI arrives to arrest him. Jerry of course does what anyone would do. He argues. And he is arrested.
Agent Thomas Morgan (Billy Bob Thornton) is assigned his case. He wants to know what terrorist organization Jerry works for. He wonders if Jerry was drawn into something by his overachiever twin, Ethan, who worked for the Air Force. He wonders a lot of things, this FBI agent.
Jerry is finally allowed his phone call, and while he tries to call his dad, the voice that answers is the same one that warned of his immanent arrest. It tells him to hit the floor. Jerry argues, until he sees the crane arm sweeping towards him. Just like that, Jerry is busted out of FBI custody.
Meanwhile Rachel Holloman (Michelle Monaghan) is seeing her son Sam off on a train trip to Washington with his band to play for Congress. It is very hard on her letting him go. But while they say their tearful goodbyes, someone lifts Sam's trumpet unnoticed.
Later, Rachel is contacted by the same female voice (Julianne Moore if I am not mistaken) and told that if she does not do exactly what she is told, Sam's train will be derailed.
Both Jerry and Rachel are moved to the same car by instructions on the phone, and on electronic media along the way. Jerry tries to thwart the electronic pursuit, but the mysterious voice's powers are too great, his train runs backwards, keeping him on track, a stranger's cell phone rings, and it's for Jerry. Whoever this woman is, she sees everything, and can play with traffic lights, electronic signs, and video feeds.
The voice in omniscient, very powerful, and utterly ruthless. With a calm detachment, she sends the pair on a harrowing journey, towards what end, she will not say.
But Jerry and Rachael are not alone; others are being manipulated in similar fashion, and slowly, the parts of the puzzle converge on the nation's capital.
This movie is very interesting on a lot of different levels, and is very interesting for the reasons it failed as much as for what it succeeded in doing. First, it is an action thriller, and it delivers this with a carefully edited movie designed to rush through the plot at a dizzying speed that could not leave the most dysfunctional ADHD anything but engrossed. And it blows stuff up real good. It flips police car with the careless abandon of a child with a new hot wheels set. And of course, everyone knows that all cars turn into fireballs with any sharp blow. Okay, it has the adrenaline junky vote.
And the story is interesting, ostensibly a look at the way our interconnected overly computerized society makes us vulnerable to anyone with sufficient sophistication to exploit the weaknesses. And it examines how our kneejerk reaction in the face of terrorism might not be the best response...
Or at least it could have. Oh, the topic is broached, but it is never fully explored, nor indeed more than lightly scanned as we whizz along to our next traffic fatality.
Nor are the characters developed; Shia plays the same character he plays in all his action movies, "Run Shia! Run!" I have heard rumors the boy can act. I would like to see him in a vehicle that will allow that some time. Nor is Michelle Monaghan given much more to chew on than "you are a good mom who is scared for her child." Let's not even talk about the forces of Law and Order. Thornton could have made a lot more of his performance with just a smattering of good dialogue to work with, and Rosario Dawson's character was so poorly defined I wondered what she was doing there? Was she some sort of Human Resources agent from the Air Force? These are talented actors, folks, so if they are coming across as two dimensional at best, I lay the blame on the writer and director.
Still, the movie blows stuff up good, and keeps the pace wound high enough to capture the attention of a rabbit on speed. If you are just looking for an action movie, you could do worse. The sad thing is it would have been so very simple to do so much better.