Riduculous Plot Adds Up to One Lazy "Eye"

by Eric Melin on September 26, 2008

in Print Reviews

I’m not one to get hung up on silly plot devices—as long as there is a very good reason for them.

In Christopher Nolan’s remarkable backwards-time thriller “Memento,” you have to accept that Leonard Shelby (Guy Pearce) has a short-term memory and loses everything every ten minutes or so. That makes it pretty difficult to discover who murdered his wife. By the end of the movie, however, what he ends up doing is learning about himself, and he doesn’t like it so much. It becomes easier to accept the unlikely concept that the film relies on when everything surrounding it is so clever and the movie enlightens you by its conclusion.

eagle eye shia labeoufWhen your movie is essentially ripping off “2001: A Space Odyssey” and “WarGames,” however, it is not as easy to forgive.

The way our main character in “Eagle Eye” is framed to look like a terrorist is the first in a ridiculous series of wholly implausible events you must accept to enjoy the film. One series of bizarre circumstances after another plague copy-store clerk Jerry Shaw (Shia LaBeouf) after his twin brother’s death, and soon he finds himself on the run from the law, taking orders from a mysterious female voice on the other end of a cell phone—even if it’s not his. Or a pay phone. Or an intercom system. Actually, this omnipotent villain is able to tap into any and every major modern communication device available, such as electronic billboards and security cams, to spot Jerry’s whereabouts and tell him what to do next.

If “Eagle Eye” had explored the cloudy ethics of this Orwellian nightmare territory any further, it might have been OK to keep stringing together one convenient circumstance after another. Instead, the screenplay, penned by four credited screenwriters, is content to use its set-up only to throw one mediocre action scene after another at the audience. Director DJ Caruso, however, is no Steven Spielberg (one of the film’s producers and the man whose idea 15 years ago spawned it). He wants you to identify with Jerry and the divorced mother (Michelle Monaghan) who ends up fleeing with him, but in order to stage an effective action scene, there has to be more than noise and explosions.

shia labeouf eagle eyeFirst, we need to know what’s at stake for the characters and be able to see specifically what is in their way. When that assault could come from anywhere (as manipulated by the evil lady voice), it’s a bit harder to identify what is happening. When we don’t know where our heroes are spatially in regards to the cars that are chasing them and the electronically-controlled threats that Big Sister keeps throwing at them, it becomes impossible to regard a fast-paced car chase as anything more than a series of impressive crashes and explosions that have little to do with our protagonists.

And we know they will get out alive (because nothing in the story ever suggests that we should expect the unexpected), so there’s really no suspense to any of this.

thornton eagle eyeBilly Bob Thornton is completely wasted in a role that requires him to do nothing more than look pissed off, order people around, and take a silly ride on a labyrinthine factory conveyor belt, in one lame Indiana Jones/Rube Goldberg-inspired sequence. And poor Rosario Dawson and Michael Chiklis (so good on TV’s “The Shield,” but unable to find an interesting movie role so far). Their roles are so underwritten, they could be anybody.

In the end, “Eagle Eye” makes a weak stab at some social commentary about terrorism anxiety, constant surveillance, and our modern reliance on computers. But it’s nothing that hasn’t been explored deeper and frankly, more interestingly, elsewhere. In fact, since it is plainly obvious that the movie’s priorities lie not with its message, but with its lightning-fast pacing and confusing action scenes, it’s insulting when these ideas are shoehorned in half-heartedly.

What’s worse, when all is revealed (and believe me, it’s a stretch), you may find yourself wondering if—even in the context of the film’s premise—it was all worth it.

Eric is the Editor-in-Chief of Scene-Stealers.com and writes the Screen Stealers column for The Pitch. He’s President of the KCFCC, and drummer for The Dead Girls and Ultimate Fakebook. He is also Air Guitar World Champion Mean Melin. Eric goes to 11. Follow him at:

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{ 10 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Noemi S September 28, 2008 at 9:21 pm

That’s a real shame. I really thought Eagle Eye was gonna be a good movie. I knew the plot was a little whackadoodle, but I hoped that it would all come together in the end.

I tired not to read your entire review, so i just skimmed it, so i can at least keep some positive thoughts in mind for the movie. It’s a shame when a messy, ridiculous plot ruins a movie…kind of like Indy Jones IV. You want to believe, but you simple can’t.

Great review though

Reply

2 Noemi S September 28, 2008 at 9:21 pm

That’s a real shame. I really thought Eagle Eye was gonna be a good movie. I knew the plot was a little whackadoodle, but I hoped that it would all come together in the end.

I tired not to read your entire review, so i just skimmed it, so i can at least keep some positive thoughts in mind for the movie. It’s a shame when a messy, ridiculous plot ruins a movie…kind of like Indy Jones IV. You want to believe, but you simple can’t.

Great review though

Reply

3 Clark September 29, 2008 at 5:51 am

Well, I agree with you. But I liked the movie anyway. It’s just an action flick. What would you expect from a guy called “DJ” Caruso? Just a remix of ideas from other movies, right?

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4 Clark September 29, 2008 at 5:51 am

Well, I agree with you. But I liked the movie anyway. It’s just an action flick. What would you expect from a guy called “DJ” Caruso? Just a remix of ideas from other movies, right?

Reply

5 Eric Melin September 29, 2008 at 6:45 am

Nice. Unfortunately, defending this movie with a pun off the director’s name is more clever than anything in the film!

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6 Eric Melin September 29, 2008 at 6:45 am

Nice. Unfortunately, defending this movie with a pun off the director’s name is more clever than anything in the film!

Reply

7 Aaron October 1, 2008 at 9:05 am

This is a really well-executed review.. i did enjoy the movie, but i did come to terms with this being a more high-tech version of enemy of the state. now all the events seem heavily impractical.. but all possible if you want to take in account the power of technology should someone be able to control to such an extent. and yes the movie seemed to cater directly to the audience that enjoys mr. bay, but that seems to be a vast maority.. and for the same reason a majority of bands write music these days, mass audience appeal is everything…

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8 Aaron October 1, 2008 at 9:05 am

This is a really well-executed review.. i did enjoy the movie, but i did come to terms with this being a more high-tech version of enemy of the state. now all the events seem heavily impractical.. but all possible if you want to take in account the power of technology should someone be able to control to such an extent. and yes the movie seemed to cater directly to the audience that enjoys mr. bay, but that seems to be a vast maority.. and for the same reason a majority of bands write music these days, mass audience appeal is everything…

Reply

9 Eric Melin October 1, 2008 at 10:03 am

Thanks for your comment– I guess “possible” is a good word for this. Technology today may make most of the surveillance in the movie somehow possible. But I am quite sure that the histrionics of the plot against the government, as carried out by Jerry and the divorcee, are just that. Whether or not this could really happen is moot because the plot exist only in terms of propping up a hollow message.

Reply

10 Eric Melin October 1, 2008 at 10:03 am

Thanks for your comment– I guess “possible” is a good word for this. Technology today may make most of the surveillance in the movie somehow possible. But I am quite sure that the histrionics of the plot against the government, as carried out by Jerry and the divorcee, are just that. Whether or not this could really happen is moot because the plot exist only in terms of propping up a hollow message.

Reply

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