Eagle Eye (UK - BD)
Chris Gould takes a look at the Blu-ray release of this recent Shia LaBeouf flick
Not long after the death of his brother, Ethan, Stanford University drop-out Jerry Shaw (Shia LaBeouf) has his life turned upside-down when he returns home to find a cache of weapons and explosives in his apartment. He then receives a call from an anonymous female who informs him that the FBI will be arriving to apprehend him in thirty seconds, and unless he follows her orders he’ll be branded a terrorist and imprisoned (or worse). Unfortunately Jerry fails to heed the warning and is taken into custody where he is interrogated by Special Agent Thomas Morgan (Billy Bob Thornton). When Morgan leaves the room to consult with Air Force liaison Zoe Perez (Rosario Dawson) Jerry receives another call from the mysterious woman, who arranges for a crane to smash into the building in order to facilitate his escape.
Not wanting to spend the rest of his life in jail, Jerry makes a run for it and is met by single mother Rachel Holloman (Michelle Monaghan), who is also being coerced by the threat of her son’s train being derailed. With the assistance of the unidentified caller—who has the ability to remotely control networked devices such as traffic lights and mobile phones—Jerry and Rachel evade the police and meet up with other ‘agents’ who provide them with further instructions. The pair eventually make their way from Chicago to Washington D.C., where they are finally introduced to the puppet master behind the operation and the full extent of the nefarious plot comes to light.
If all of that sounds a little ambiguous, I've been deliberately vague about a number of plot elements for fear of spoiling the film's major 'twist' for those yet to see the picture. I know it's been out for a while now, but the 'twist' is fairly central to any enjoyment one might derive from the feature, so I don't want to spoil it for the uninitiated.
Presented at its original theatrical ratio of 2.40:1 (1080/24p AVC), Eagle Eye looks fantastic on Blu-ray. It's not the most visually exciting film—featuring as it does a fairly subdued palette comprised mainly of metallic blues and oranges—but colour rendition is good (if not entirely realistic) and appears to be faithful to the theatrical experience. Image detail is also pleasing, with only a few shots looking a little soft, but this can most likely be attributed to the shooting style than to any problems with the transfer.
Contrast runs a little hot, causing some of the whites to flare, but this looks to be intentional, while blacks are generally solid, if not quite as inky as they could be. Shadow detail is also acceptable, if not reference quality, which sometimes leads to crushing. From my normal seating position I couldn't detect any digital artefacts and film artefacts were limited to the tiniest of white specks, which appeared very infrequently. All things considered, this is a fine effort that falls just short of the very best the format has to offer.
As is usual for their high-definition releases, Paramount offers up a Dolby TrueHD 5.1 soundtrack for Eagle Eye. To say this is a lively mix is perhaps the understatement of the year, as the track utilises all five speakers for almost the entirety of its almost two-hour runtime. Effects are deftly balanced to create a truly enveloping experience where no one element overrides the others, save for perhaps the occasional minor dialogue blip. At times you really do feel like you’re in the midst of the action, running for your life with Jerry and Rachel, especially during the frenetic car chase sequence that really pushes the TrueHD track to its limits.
If I had to make one criticism, it would be that the bass wasn’t quite meaty enough for me. Don’t get me wrong, it’s tight and lends weight to the action sequences when needed, but I felt that the pyrotechnics deserved more ‘oomph’. It is only a minor criticism though, and it doesn’t really detract from what is actually a very accomplished track.
Although modestly budgeted, the film’s comparatively high gross has ensured a fair selection of bonus material for this home release. However, upon further examination it doesn't quite live up to expectations, but Paramount once again presents all of the supplements in high-definition (much to their credit). Here’s a breakdown of what you can expect to find on the disc.
Deleted Scenes (04:39 HD): There are four deleted scenes in total, available both individually and as a 'Play All' function. The scenes are mainly short beats and there's really nothing here that would have dramatically altered the completed picture, except for maybe the alternate ending (which is basically an advert for 'Rock Band').
Asymmetrical Warfare: The Making of Eagle Eye (25:32 HD): Things continue with a relatively short making of that makes uses of cast and crew interviews and behind the scenes footage to explore the genesis of the picture and the filmmaking process in general. We learn a little about the casting choices, shooting styles, stunts, effects and production design, but not in the sort of exhaustive detail required from the best making of featurettes.
Eagle Eye on Location: Washington D.C. (05:58 HD): Unsurprisingly, this short featurette touches on the practicalities of shooting on location in Washington. The filmmakers mention that they tried to use as many real locations as possible, rather than resorting to sets. Unfortunately there's not a huge amount of information to be gleaned from what is essentially a fluff piece.
Is My Cell Phone Spying on Me? (09:14 HD): This is a short but interesting featurette that examines the surveillance society in which we now find ourselves living. Although certain elements of the plot have been exaggerated out of necessity, the reality of the situation isn't a million miles away from the events depicted in the film. I don't know about you, but I think that's pretty scary.
Shall We Play a Game? (09:22 HD): This is a conversation between director D.J. Caruso and WarGames director John Badham in which the guys sit opposite each another and talk about the similarities between their two films. The conversation flows freely and touches on numerous aspects of the productions, along with background information on their pre-existing working relationship.
Gag Reel (07:00 HD): Seven minutes of people fluffing their lines and generally goofing around. These things are usually pretty hit-and-miss, but there's some especially good Billy Bob Thornton ad libbing on display here.
Road Trip (03:05 HD): This is yet another short featurette that examines the varied shooting schedule, touching on the various locations, sets, stunts and so forth. To be perfectly honest the footage could have been combined with that of the 'On Location' featurette to create something a little more meaty.
Photo Gallery: Pretty self-explanatory this one. If you like staring at still images this will be right up your street, but I'm not really a fan of such things unless I have a real interest in the subject matter.
Theatrical Trailer (02:28 HD): One again, this is about as self-explanatory as things get. I’m not one to watch trailers when I own the entire feature, but I appreciate its inclusion.
Okay, so it’s not a patch on the similarly-themed WarGames and the identity of the ‘mysterious’ woman is obvious, but Eagle Eye is still relatively inoffensive entertainment. I don’t really get all the animosity aimed towards Shia LaBeouf either (I’ve often seen him referred to as Shia LaDouche), as he’s generally pretty likable in his roles. I have a bit of a soft spot for Michelle Monaghan, so it’s always nice to see her pop up in a film, but other than that not much really stood out for me. Eagle Eye is the filmic equivalent of painting your entire house magnolia—safe and functional, but lacking in imagination and flair.
If you’ve read any of my previous Paramount Blu-ray reviews it will come as no surprise to read that I am yet again singing their praises. This is another solid release with good audio-visual characteristics and a functional selection of extras presented in HD (other studios take note). I don’t know that it’s quite enough to overcome the mediocrity of the feature, but if you’re an Eagle Eye fan you’ll at least have a respectable package to take home.
* Note: The above images are taken from the Blu-ray release and resized for the page. Full-resolution captures are available by clicking individual images, but due to .jpg compression they are not necessarily representative of the quality of the transfer.
Review by Chris Gould
Suitable only for persons of 12 years and over
Release Date: 16th March 2009
Disc Type: Blu-ray Disc
Audio: Dolby TrueHD 5.1 English, Dolby Digital 5.1 French, Dolby Digital 5.1 German, Dolby Digital 5.1 Italian, Dolby Digital 5.1 Spanish
Subtitles: Danish, Dutch, English, English SDH, Finnish, French, German, Italian, Norwegian, Spanish, Swedish
Extras: Deleted Scenes, ‘Asymmetrical Warfare’, 'Eagle Eye on Location', 'Is My Cell Phone Spying on Me', 'Shall We Play a Game?', Gag Reel, Photo Gallery, Trailer
Easter Egg: No
Director: D.J. Caruso
Cast: Shia LaBeouf, Michelle Monaghan, Rosario Dawson, Billy Bob Thorton, Michael Chiklis, Anthony Mackie
Length: 118 minutes
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