From the opening sequence of carnage and unwanted tragedy to the final sealed-with-a-kiss moment between the principals, Eagle Eye doesn’t know if its coming or going. However, before we go too far down that road, let’s do a quick plot review.
Jerry Shaw and his twin, both played by Shia LaBeouf, are good guys with very different fates. For Jerry, life is okay, as long as you don’t have to please dad or pay your rent. Then he gets the call. For Rachel Holloman (Michelle Monaghan), things aren’t perfect, but who needs Mr. Right when you have the one guy that can’t walk out on you – your tween-age son. Or so she thinks until she gets the call. Blitz through an action sequence that would stretch even an eleven-year-old’s suspension of reality, and suddenly Rachel and Jerry find themselves having a quiet moment – or is that a love spat? – on a rural road in midwestern who-knows-where. Back in the city, the FBI and the Air Force are trying to get the right people in the right place to catch our unwilling fugitives. Zoe Perez (Rosario Dawson) and Agent Thomas Morgan (Billy Bob Thornton) can’t quite catch a break, until the Executive Branch decides to lend Ms. Perez a big computer, code name Aria. Considerably more action ensues, entangled with bits of levity (does Monster list jobs requiring the handling of feces, do you think?) and moments of true character and bravery, but in the end it all boils down to stopping the impossible foe. Do they get it done? It’s a Hollywood flick, so I’ll let you take a guess.
Herein lies the ultimate problem with our little subject – Eagle Eye tries more than anything to be all things to a very wide audience. It could be an action movie: guy gets setup and hauled in by the Feds, escapes from multiple high-rise stories and fate lines up the exits, crashes and car chases ensue. Guy saves the day anyway because he’s just a patriot at heart. It could be a chick flick: guy meets girl under dire circumstances, guy and girl connect despite their obvious personality conflicts, guy and girl make it through without a scrape and live to smooch another day. It could also be a cautionary tale: how far do you go to protect yourself from terrorism and would you sacrifice your personal freedom to do so? Eagle Eye could even be considered a Sci-Fi movie: big computer has programming conflict a la Hal 9000. But what Eagle Eye doesn’t do is any one of these things very well, and in its own undoing further justifies why movies, and books and TV for that matter, have genres.
Beyond the issues with coherency and believability, Eagle Eye makes for an entertaining piece of watching good for a Friday-night date or easy Saturday afternoon. As a parallel to the Die Hard or Mission: Impossible series, the level of action and cultural perceived threat is right on par. Just don’t think too hard afterward or go back for the Sunday matinée.