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Movie Review: Eagle Eye

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Eagle Eye landed in movie theaters after a big advertising push. Produced by Steven Spielberg, the movie stars Shia LaBeouf, Michelle Monaghan, Rosario Dawson, Michael Chiklis, and Billy Bob Thornton in the key roles. I loved the teasers and trailers I saw, and my appetite was thoroughly whetted for an action/adventure romp.

When the movie opened up with a Middle East terrorist operation, I knew the show wasn’t going to stay out of politics and that bothered me somewhat. Given everything that’s going on in the news at present, I really wanted a respite from politics and the twins, doom and gloom.

Once Jerry Shaw (Shia LaBeouf) comes on screen, the tone takes a definite change. I relaxed a little as we got into Jerry’s life, and that became a landslide of change when he’s notified of his twin brother’s death. In just a few short moments more, the game is in play. Jerry gets framed for being a terrorist in a way that forcibly makes you check disbelief at the door. The first incredible thing, to me, was that he opened all the boxes containing weapons and military intelligence information. After the first one, I would have been out the door. I wouldn’t have needed the creepy voice on the phone.

Unfortunately, Jerry’s instincts are hampered by the script, which says that he’s supposed to stand around there and get caught by Homeland Security. The second incredible thing to me is that Jerry’s connection to his dead brother and the top secret project he was working on didn’t immediately trigger a lot of red flags throughout the intelligence community.

LaBeouf really pulls off the character, though. Jerry felt real, a desperate slacker blindsided by something far beyond his comprehension. Michelle Monaghan plays Rachel Holloman, a single mother, who gets trapped in the same web of deceit and double-cross that has snared Jerry.

After the opening acts had played out, I started grooving on the movie. It feels very Hitchcockian, and I was reminded again and again of North by Northwest, including the attack plane pursuit. I love movies with lots of action, layers, and duplicity that keep me guessing throughout. Eagle Eye does precisely that.

I loved the escalating chase and the unknowable stakes involved. Billy Bob Thornton plays Special Agent Tom Morgan and provides a lot of tough guy lines perfectly. He won me over immediately and ratchets up the suspense by being so good and so dogged at his pursuit. Rosario Dawson portrays Air Force Office of Special Operations Special Agent Zoe Perez as his counterpart in the USAF. Both of them have limited time on screen, but they deliver solid performances that keep the movie spinning like a top.

I had a blast during the movie, but a lot of it goes through very familiar moves. There’s nothing in Eagle Eye that hasn’t been seen before, but it’s solid entertainment and the kind of story that I love watching. The special effects and stunt crews obviously had a great time putting this movie together, because there didn’t seem to be anything that didn’t get wrecked, shot, or “blowed up real good.”

One stumbling block, for me, is the final scene of the movie. It just feels like a Band-Aid, something that Hollywood insisted on sticking in to hint at a romance. The story was tight enough that it didn't need the romance. The final scene in North by Northwest works because the story lends itself to that subplot. This one just doesn't work and feels false.

I forgive the movie its political overtones and undisguised President-bashing because it was fun. If you’re going to get irritated over either of those issues, I’d suggest passing this one up. But if you want an actioner with heart, plenty of tech-paranoia, and solid characters doing what they’re supposed to do, Eagle Eye is fun, fast-paced, and entertaining.

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