> Holiday DVD Marathon 1 : eagLe eyE

I trusted my friend when she told me that Eagle Eye is the perfect B-grade thriller, a fast-paced, excited and well budgeted picture with quality acting and enough chaos to satisfy my long planned DVD marathon. She somehow warned me that it is also ridiculous at times, forcing you to stretch your imagination far beyond what you expected. And that if I’ll accept that, the movie will be pretty damn entertaining.

The 2-Disc Special Edition DVD, however, is not. The Special Edition is not very special at all, as it contains just a few mediocre bonus features that no one really wants to see. The Alternate Ending, which is short and to-the-point, is okay – but thank God they didn’t use it in the theatrical release.  However, the series of featurettes included on the discs are dull, dull, dull.

There’s a making-of featurette, which is more promotional than anything else and only provides a few real glimpses at the actual production of the movie; another one looks at filming in Washington, D.C. That’s not very exotic at all. Yet another is about the reality of the world we live in, and how it’s not that farfetched that we can be tracked most of the time; interesting subject, but there’s just too little real content to make this worthwhile. There’s also an interview between the director and his mentor, but I lost interest early on. Ironically, this one may be the most authentic of all of the bonus features, though it was a mistake to have the two just talking in a room; instead, they should have had a moderator to help lead the men down a more interesting path.

There’s also a gag real and some deleted scenes, but both features are pretty standard.

Now about the movie…

Just because you’re paranoid doesn’t mean you should make a movie about it. The abysmal Eagle Eye attempts to take modern-day paranoia about the intrusive nature of technology and turn it into an action movie. The result is an unqualified disaster, an unbelievable, unrealistic, and simply un-enjoyable barrage of noise and increasingly ridiculous plot twists. Eagle Eye doesn’t just require suspension of disbelief on the part of its audience. It demands that all logic and believability be left at the ticket counter with your hard-earned cash. This may be Executive Producer Steven Spielberg’s least believable film ever, and that’s including E.T. and Transformers. 

As over-the-top and only-in-Hollywood as Live Free or Die Hard or similarly insane action movies [only with a completely straight face about it], Eagle Eye is hard to even recap intelligently. The film’s only accomplishment might be in that it will linger with audiences out into the lobby and beyond as viewers try to piece together the plot holes big enough to fly a B-12 Bomber through with ease. Shia LaBeouf stars as Jerry Shaw, a Stanford drop-out who now works at the Copy Cabana. He’s grown distant from his family, especially his successful twin brother Ethan. When his Air Force star sibling dies in a car accident, Jerry goes to the funeral and sort of reconnects with his family, but comes home to find his life in complete disarray. First, his bank account, which couldn’t satisfy his rent payment one day, has $750k deposited in it the next. He takes out some cash and heads home to find an apartment full of terrorist supplies that, apparently, are pretty easy to ship via DHL. As he’s examining the confidential documents and illegal weapons in his living room, his cell phone rings and he’s instructed that he has thirty seconds before the FBI will get there and arrest him on suspicion of terrorism unless he runs. 

At the same time, Rachel Holloman [the miscast Michelle Monaghan] gets a similar call. Her son is on a train to DC to play at the Kennedy Center, and the mystery woman on the other end of the phone threatens to derail the locomotive if Rachel doesn’t follow orders. Jerry doesn’t run when he’s first told to and gets nabbed by an FBI, headed by Billy Bob Thornton, and the better-at-taking-directions Rachel has to bust out her unwilling partner in crime. The idea is that Jerry and Rachel are going to be pawns in an elaborate plot that uses our increasing lack of privacy as a weapon. Imagine an enemy that could get to you through any technological device. They can hear you on any phone, see you on any camera, and even use any computer-operated device like stop lights and cranes to their will. While LeBeouf and Monaghan run, jump, and scream every time the phone rings, Michael Chiklis, Rosario Dawson, and Anthony Mackie are all wasted in small supported roles.

It’s not that horrible an idea for a thriller, but it’s the execution that’s horrific. Unwilling to do anything in moderation, the four people it took to write one of the worst screenplays of the year almost seem to be playing a game where they have to top each other with each stupid twist. There’s something in the idea that we are surrounded by ATM cameras and cell phones, but, when the computer system that’s manipulating Jerry and Rachel starts to go beyond what any could possibly do – my favorite is that, apparently, a computer can not only cause power wire to snap but also swing directly into a running person – the suspension of disbelief becomes far, far too much to bear. And the final act is a howler. If director D.J. Caruso and the rest of the team behind the film could have put their tongue even slightly in cheek, Eagle Eye might have worked, but the increasingly insane plotline is played deadly straight, which should make the laughter in the audience all the more uncomfortable.

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