Eagle Eye (US - BD)
Gabe Powers doesn't even get any phone reception in his own house...
Jerry Shaw (Shia LaBeouf) has his average life interrupted a few days after the death of his twin brother when he enters his home and finds tons of bomb making equipment. Soon his phone rings, and a woman on the other end begins making threats and demands. If Jerry doesn’t follow orders he’ll be branded a terrorist and jailed for life, or worse. Meanwhile, single mother Rachel Holloman (Michelle Monaghan) also gets a call, threatening to derail her son’s train if she doesn’t follow some orders of her own.
Eagle Eye ended up being a much bigger film than I'd expected. I haven’t seen this many Chicago cop cars this badly mangled since The Blues Brothers. I’m very impressed with the amount of collateral damage incurred on the behalf of the protagonists. Actually, I’d much rather be playing Eagle Eye the video game than watching Eagle Eye the movie. The story’s structure and thought process is straight out of a Playstation classic, to the point that I was pretty sure I’d already played this one. I think David Hayter voiced Jerry Shaw.
The script’s attempts at humanising the characters depends on the actors in most cases, and often this surprisingly overqualified cast delivers a few believable tears and smiles. The emotional beats are very repetitive, though, so I mostly found myself waiting for the next plot point. It’s a little overlong, but the film is pretty tightly plotted (it better be, it took five guys to write it). The suspension of disbelief required to really love Eagle Eye, however, is going to be beyond a lot of people, but I couldn’t predict each twist and turn, and the tracks are mostly covered concerning plot holes, so that’s something.
I didn’t see this D.J. Caruso guy’s other movies, but it doesn’t surprise me to see he’s primarily a television director. Eagle Eye kind of looks like a really expensive and ridiculous episode of The Shield. Caruso obviously has control of his sets, actors and crew; my problems are with his lack of originality, not his abilities as a director. Eagle Eye is a well made film, but I find myself bored with most of its ambition.
My biggest problems with the film would all constitute spoilers, so tread the next section lightly. In the end, Eagle Eye turns into just another ‘fear the machine’ movie. There isn’t any greater villainous theme to the thing beyond the motivations of HAL in 2001: A Space Odyssey, and who among movie fans really cares about these themes anymore, especially when they’re played this straight. Eagle Eye is a well enough made action movie, but by its last act it’s aimed squarely at casual, and frankly, somewhat ignorant audiences, which isn’t very thrilling.
The overall consistency of the transfer is hit and miss, though sometimes it looks positively stunning. Some of the daylight and set shot scenes are sharper than needles, others are shot very soft, while darker shots are noisy, so it’s hard to get a specific handle on the transfer. Apparently the whole film was shot on the same 35mm film, so the inconsistencies can probably be ‘blamed’ on the rough shooting style rather than the use of alternate stocks, or the limitations of digital HD film. Most of Caruso’s lighting is source based, so there’s a bit of flare out on the highlights, and not a lot of stylized colouring. For the most part the hi-def details are quite lifelike, though the muted colour pallet doesn’t impress too much.
There are no surprises in this Dolby Digital TrueHD track—it’s 5.1 channels of aggressive and stylized action when needed, and light as a feather otherwise. The big car chase towards the beginning of the film is a marvel, as cars are flung throughout the channels, impacting with booming bass. The heavy bass extends to the scenes taking place within the computer’s chamber, which hum without overpowering the dialogue (that’s Julianne Moore, by the way). Brian Tyler’s larger than life score is incredibly generic and misused during the otherwise effectively mixed action scenes.
Extras begin with a selection of three deleted scenes and one alternate ending. The scenes are presented in hi-def, with scene markers and temp audio. These are really more like slightly extended scenes than deleted scenes, and the difference is pretty negligible. The alternate ending is made to leave a larger opening for a sequel.
‘Asymmetrical Warfare’ is a general making-of movie, that is mostly made up of the usual empty praises, but does hold some interesting information in the absence of a commentary track. I knew that Steven Spielberg had been guiding LaBeouf’s career for a while, but I wasn’t aware how much the film’s story was Spielberg’s. This actually cheapens the story a little more in my eyes considering how many times Spielberg’s already dealt with the issues in the story. It also appears that Steven had a pretty big production influence, which kind of cheapens Caruso’s role a bit. But it’s not a bad featurette, and it moves swiftly at twenty-five-and-a-half minutes.
‘Eagle Eye] on Location’ features the same talking head interviews mixed with behind the scenes and final film footage that the previous making-of featurette worked off of. The focus this time is on the Washington D.C. locations used in the final act. The location shooting is, besides the acting, probably the film’s saving grace, because it adds a genuine reality to a silly situation. The featurette runs six minutes. ‘Road Trip’ probably should’ve been mixed in with the ‘On Location’ featurette, as it covers most of the same ground, just outside of DC.
‘Is My Cell Phone Spying on Me?’ is a look at the reality of the ‘Big Brother’ themes the film deals with. The science fiction of the situation is pretty minimal at this point, which is definitely a scary thought. If only the film really dealt with this real life horror in an adult fashion. Though not particularly long (only nine minutes), this featurette does delve pretty deeply into the negative effects of our ever shrinking personal space.
‘Shall We Play a Game’ is a title obviously taken from the popular ‘80s tech terrified thriller War Games, and with good cause—it’s a conversation between DJ Caruso and War Games director John Badham. The two directors compliment each other’s films and make some nice comparisons, but unfortunately it appears that Paramount couldn’t get any rights to footage from War Games. This makes for a visually dull experience. These heads talk for a solid nine and a half minutes. The decent extras are finished out with a gag reel, a photo gallery, and a theatrical trailer.
I think Eagle Eye’s a pretty good movie up to a certain point, but all its unoriginality comes to a head when the twists are all revealed. My real interest in the film is getting a solid look at DJ Caruso’s directing abilities when given a sizable canvass, because he’s the guy apparently handling the Y: The Last Man adaptation. I’m not sure he’s the guy for the job, but I’m also not positive he doesn’t know what he’s doing, and Steven Spielberg’s fingerprints are all over the place. Eagle Eye’s small potatoes, and entirely forgettable, but they better not mess with my Y: The Last Man.
*Note: The images on this page are not representative of the Blu-ray release.
Review by Gabriel Powers
Some material may be inappropriate for children under 13
Release Date: 27th December 2008
Disc Type: Blu-ray Disc
Audio: Dolby TrueHD 5.1 English, Dolby Digital 5.1 French, Dolby Digital 5.1 Spanish
Subtitles: English HoH, French, and Spanish
Extras: Deleted and Alterate Scenes, ‘Asymmetrical Warfare’, 'Eagle Eye on Location', 'Is My Cell Phone Spying on Me', 'Shall Play a Game?', Blooper Reel, Image Gallery, Trailers
Easter Egg: No
Director: DJ Caruso
Cast: Shia LaBeouf, Michelle Monaghan, Rosario Dawson, Billy Bob Thorton, Michael Chiklis, Anthony Mackie
Genre: Action and Adventure
Length: 118 minutes
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