7.14.2009

REVIEW: Eagle Eye (DJ Caruso, 2008)

When copy machine jockey by day, low life by night Jerry Shaw (Shia LaBeouf) learns of his twin brother's death, he is confronted with a series of unusual, high-profile events that rocket his life into adventure alongside single mom Rachel Holloman (Michelle Monoghan). Not much more can be said for the sake of concealing potential spoilers but I will forewarn that the film, which seems to want a basis in some form of reality, is one of the more preposterous series of plot points this reviewer has come across. A broad range of actors attempt to create appeal while DJ Caruso begs for audience adoration with this follow-up to his barely-worth-mentioning 2007 embarrassment, Disturbia.

When a film is bad, or in this case, abominable, one can at least hope it'll have some redeeming qualities - at most a decent action sequence as with the rat-bombs from 2008's mostly annoying Wanted or at least a so-bad-it's-good ride, a shining example of which is 2006's Ultraviolet. Eagle Eye is completely barren when it comes to these qualities and exists as the worst type of bad film. It tries to appeal to a low, common denominator while purporting sophistication and failing to deliver on any level. When a scene does show hints of inspiration it is blatantly ripped from another, better film. The saying goes, "steal from the best," but the theft in this case is shameless. We are given heavy doses of The Matrix, I, Robot and an unsuccessful hodgepodge of nearly every 90's political thriller ever made.

Rarely if ever have I seen a film with such careless handling of collateral civilian - or even police officer - death. Armfuls of brutally dismembered innocents on film are not always objectionable. Any sort of content, if properly handled, can be admirable. Caruso, however, asks us to cheer when drivers and their passengers are sidelined by horrific accidents. He encourages awe and relief when an implacable, behemoth crane claw remorselessly ensures that no less than three cops will not be getting the open-casket treatment. These moments are even worse than the glorious dismantling of a father right before his son's eyes in Disturbia, seeing as, if I wanted to, I could argue on that scene's behalf, crediting the way it mercilessly plays with certain audience members' worst fears. With Eagle Eye, all I can do is hang my head.

So we have an audaciously disrespectful film on our hands. What goes further to push it into utterly reprehensible territory? How about barefaced product placement? When the action picks up for Monaghan, she is asked to leave a gloomy restaurant and head across the street to the bright, cheery McDonald's. Later, when possibly the biggest twist the film has to offer is about to be revealed, the characters are asked to head in to Circuit City and subsequently walk past an array of great deals on snazzy electronics. Maybe it isn't Best Buy but Dreamworks who is to blame for Circuit City folding. Next up in the blame-storm is the score, which reaches a near self-parodic level. Brian Tyler's overly intense compositions are desperate for an all-out, tank-on-tank missile battle or some other over-the-top thrill sequence when all that's happening is a phone call or a mild-tempered conversation. In fact, if the film had gone a few steps further with this notion and tweaked the script ever so slightly, it might have become an interesting satire of its genre.

Eagle Eye is the kind of film that makes me want to swear off modern pop-cinema entirely. Its only possible accomplishment is further proving the ineptitude of Caruso and LaBeouf, who seem to hunt down and destroy any shred of a film's potential. They should be locked in to some form of cinematic purgatory where the only DVD in print is AI: Artificial Intelligence. I cannot imagine a person of any sort paying to see Eagle Eye and feeling their money was well spent.

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