Last year director DJ Caruso and star Shia LaBeouf teamed up for an update of Hitchcock’s “Rear Window” that was not as good as the original, but still pretty good in “Disturbia”. Now the director and star have reunited for “Eagle Eye” which could be considered an update of Hitchcock’s “North by Northwest” or from the ending maybe “The Man Who Knew Too Much.” Only in this case they deliver a movie that isn’t fun or memorable. Basically “Eagle Eye” is a dreary two-hour slog.
The story begins in an Afghanistan-type place called something else where US troops, intelligence guys, satellites, and so forth are watching someone who might or might not be a Bin Laden-type terrorist. When he stops at a gathering of Muslims that could be a funeral the Defense Department computers suggest not attacking, but the president goes ahead and approves the attack anyway. What does this have to do with the main story? A lot as it turns out.
Not long later Jerry Shaw (Shia LaBeouf)’s twin brother, an Air Force officer working in Washington, is killed in a traffic accident. Jerry visits an ATM after the funeral to find his account is stuffed with $750,000! When he gets back to his apartment he finds guns, surveillance gear, and bomb making stuff all over. A woman calls him on his phone to say he has twenty seconds to run before the FBI shows up. He doesn’t run and is taken in by the FBI and agent Tom Morgan (Billy Bob Thornton) and grilled as a suspected terrorist. The woman calls Jerry back later to say she’s going to spring him moments before a crane smashes into the building.
Meanwhile, Rachel Hollimon (Michelle Monaghan) is out for a night on the town while her son is on a train bound for DC to play the trumpet at a concert in the Kennedy Center. She’s interrupted by a woman on the phone telling her to steal a Porsche and drive to pick up Jerry. The only thing the seemingly omnipotent voice on the phone didn’t count on is that Rachel can’t drive a stick. That’s about the only somewhat humorous moment in the movie after the chase is underway.
From there Jerry and Rachel go on a perilous journey that requires them to steal money from an armored truck, break into the Pentagon, and buy clothes from Macy’s. Throughout it all, I found the movie lacking intelligence for one but more importantly humor. The problem I had with the last two “Bourne” movies is that they were dumb action movies pretending to be smart by being serious all the time—no one crack a smile, ever! The same thing happens in “Eagle Eye,” which makes the ridiculous movie seem twice as stupid because it’s trying to pretend it’s not, sort of like Sarah Palin. At least LaBeouf’s other recent action movies “Transformers,” “Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull,” and “Disturbia” all knew how to make their ridiculous stories fun by cracking wise every now and then. Without that the movie becomes dreary and boring as the idiotic plot twists keep coming.
The worst tactical decision was making the Jerry character angry and depressed all the time, wasting LaBeouf’s charisma and charm evident in “Transformers” and “Disturbia.” The Rachel character is really a one-note character—she’s worried about her son and that’s pretty much it for her, except briefly when she whines about her ex-husband. The FBI agent played by Billy Bob Thornton is crotchety like all BBT’s recent characters, but he isn’t given any good humorous lines like in “Bad Santa” or some of his other flicks. So basically all these characters are as dull and boring as the rest of the movie. It’s no wonder this big action movie was released in September, long after all the real competition was out of the way.
Overall, I found this disappointing even for a dumb action movie. I’d definitely say to skip this one in the theaters and on DVD—there are plenty of better ones out there.
(My rating: 2/4 stars)
(Metacritic Score: 43)