Who would have predicted that Shia LaBeouf was destined to become a summer blockbuster star? He seemed like such a charming and unassuming teen actor on HBOs Project Greenlight. He seemed doomed to play Dustin Hoffmans grandson in a series of quirky comedies. Instead hes riding a hot streak with Transformers and Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull. The good part is that hes not being sold as the latest Arnold Schwarzenegger or Jean-Claude Van Damme. He lacks the badass moves. Hes the 21st Century Hitchcock superhero. Hes the normal guy who falls into the extraordinary situation. Disturbia was a reworking of Rear Window except instead of a leg in a cast, Shia was hobbled by a home arrest ankle monitor. Eagle Eye is a high-tech stew consisting of parts from North By Northwest, The 39 Steps and The Man Who Knew Too Much.
Jerry Shaw (LaBeouf) is a super slacker. He dropped out of Stanford to see the world. Instead of going back to school, he took a job at a copy center. In order to make the rent, he plays Poker against Jerry Ferrara (Entourages Turtle) in the stores backroom. He gets the sad news that his twin brother has died in a car wreck. At the funeral, the family sees him as a major black sheep. But he wont give up his vagabond ways.
His life changes when his normally depleted bank account is overflowing with cash. He returns to his apartment to discover that the UPS man has left a major load of packages. However this Hilton lifestyle goes weird since the boxes are filled with guns and explosives. A cell phone rings and a mysterious womans voice tells him to flee the apartment because the feds are coming. He sticks around and experiences a nasty raid. Is he heading to Gitmo?
Around the same time Rachel Holloman (Michelle Monaghan) gets a cellphone call from the mysterious woman that her son is in jeopardy if she doesnt follow instructions. Images of her son get flashed on the TV screens at a McDonalds. These people mean business. The kid is on a train heading to Washington D.C. for a childrens orchestra performance. She cant endanger her kid. She agrees to steal a car.
The mysterious woman on the cellphone brings these two strangers together. The government thinks theyre part of a major terrorist operation. They are pawns in a major plot, but they have no idea who is in control, what is the target and why they were chosen. Neither wants to help. They quickly learn that not following instructions has horrific consequences. They trust the voice on the phone since it has told them what to do to survive the police and army attacks on them. The voice is in control of subways, traffic lights and cars. They are part of a major conspiracy.
While Steven Spielberg came up with this story, the concept must have struck him during an Alfred Hitchock film festival while he was fighting with his Blackberry. The scene with the predator drone swooping down on them looks like The Birds. The “killing” moment is lifted from The Man Who Knew Too Much. And recent DVD fans will recognize it from the horrible big screen adaptation of Get Smart. This is The Fifth Element of Techno-thrillers.
WarGames also gets plenty of tribute moments with the science out of control aspect. Theres a strange comic moment when Shia and Briget are walking beneath huge power line towers. A van speeds toward them. Did they not notice that this looks just like the climax of Se7en? It undercuts the tension when the immediate joke is for the guy in the van to announce, “I got a head in a box for a Mr. Pitt. Are you Brad Pitt?” But its only Shia this time.
Eagle Eye is a popcorn thriller which works best when it just keeps flinging stuff at the characters. Once theres time to contemplate, parts of the film make no sense. A perfect example is when the feds find a videotape that wasnt recorded via a computer. They have a chance to see an image of the suspects. Weve learned that the conspiracy has taken control of all government computers. So this off-the-grid image would be proper. Unfortunately they dont stop the reveal at this point. The feds upload the video into a government computer system to let the NASA image enhancing technology give a detailed ID. If the conspiracy controls the computers, wouldnt they have altered the enhanced image to make the suspects look like Paris Hilton and Nicole Simpson are the guilty parties? This film works best when Shia is in motion. Dont try to outthink the woman on the cellphone or your brain will self-destruct.
The video is 2.35:1 anamorphic. The transfer takes full advantage of the 1080p with the details of the death defying acts getting the full effect. Its hard to top a high-def car wreck. The audio is English 5.1 Dolby TrueHD, The crunching, creaking and snapping make the chase twice as deadly. The dub tracks are French and Spanish 5.1 Dolby Digital. The subtitles are in English, French, Spanish and Portuguese.
Deleted Scenes (4:39) has four snipped moments. The three short scenes dont really add anything to the film. The alternate ending is a commercial for the Rock Band video game except with an evil twist.
Asymmetrial Warfare: The Making of Eagle Eye (25:32) focuses on how Steven Spielberg came up with this concept. Michelle Monaghan gets buzzed talking about firing guns and running in four-inch heels.
Eagle Eye On Location: Washington, D.C. (5:58) has them scooting around the nations capitol. They show the Library of Congresss amazing interiors. A tunnel does exist between this building and the Capitol building.
Is My Cell Phone Spying On Me? (9:14) reveals how were tracked by security cameras. Were always being tracked unless you remain hidden under your bed. Its kind of scary about how the technology has tagged us. At this moment, they know youre looking at this webpage.
Shall We Play a Game? (9:22) has director D.J. Caruso talking with John Badham, the director of WarGames. They carefully talk about how their two films arent related. Guess he doesnt want to get a lawsuit from the Hitchcock estate. Its not a bad chat when they talk about having to film technology to make it interesting for the casual viewer and not merely cater to the computer geek.
Road Trip (3:05) gives plenty of clips illustrating how the production was constantly moving around the country to follow the action. They werent redressing Toronto to fake a journey.
Gag Reel (7:00) has Shia not able to say the name of his copy shop. Billy Bob Thorton isnt a one take wonder. He fixates on a certain bag at one point. They do bloop the cussing. Its like an episode of The Osbournes during a few takes.
Photo Gallery has dozens of production pics. They put them in cute frames which makes the image small. Why cant they just give us the pics big?
Theatrical Trailer (2:35) brings on the high tech suspense. All the big highlights are covered.
Eagle Eye is a thrill ride of a film that gives a good rush at the height of the chase. Shia LaBeouf has established himself as the kinda guy who gets dumped into outrageous situations. Even on a second viewing the film is fun if you play “Spot the Hitchcock moment.” There is a serious message about how little privacy we have in the modern world.
Dreamworks Home Entertainment presents Eagle Eye. Directed by D.J. Caruso. Starring Shia LaBeouf, Michelle Monaghan, Rosario Dawson & Billy Bob Thorton. Written by John Glenn, Travis Wright, Hillary Seitz & Dan McDermott. Running time: 118 minutes. Rated PG-13. Released on BD: December 27, 2008. Available at Amazon.
Tags: alfred hitchcock, Blu-ray Reviews, Indiana Jones, Transformers