Reel Society

Reviews for the latest movies in theaters and on DVD.

Eagle Eye

Review by Patrick Hodges

This, folks, is why I love going to the movies.

It’s been just over two months since I saw The Dark Knight for the first time, and that was darn near the perfect film.  Since then, I have seen a great many movies, and a lot of them have been, well, bad.  A few have been fair, a couple have even been good, but none have been great.  Until now.

I measure how great a comedy is by, obviously, how much it makes me laugh.  I measure how great a drama is by the quality of the acting, the writing, and the emotional response it evokes.  And I measure how great an action/thriller is by how physically drained I am by its conclusion.  By that token, Eagle Eye may just be one of the most exciting movies I have ever seen. Maybe even more so than The Dark Knight.

Now, I’m not saying that Eagle Eye is a better overall film than The Dark Knight; it’s not.  But the most recent Batman film was great on so many levels; as a drama, as a superhero movie, as a thriller, as an actioner.  And while there were a few scenes that were pulse-poundingly exciting, I didn’t leave the theater feeling like I’d just spent two solid hours on the world’s scariest roller-coaster.  Eagle Eye made me feel that way.

Shia LaBeouf was outstanding as Jerry, an underachiever working a menial job at a copy store, who learns that his twin brother (his polar opposite, personality-wise) just died in a car accident.  After the funeral, he comes home to find his apartment full of weapons, fake passports (with his face on them) and dangerous weapons-grade chemicals.  He receives a call on his cell phone from a mysterious woman’s voice who tells him to obey her instructions or face the consequences.  Not surprisingly, he fails to comply and is arrested by the FBI, and is interrogated by Agent Morgan (beautifully played by Billy Bob Thornton), who doesn’t believe his rather absurd story that he’s being set up.

Along the way, he joins up with Rachel Holloman, a divorced mother who is also being guided by the mysterious voice.  In a rather disturbing chase scene, it seems that there is no electronic device that can’t be manipulated by her seemingly omnipresent influence, and it becomes clear that they are trapped with no way out.

The action and intensity is non-stop.  Even after you find out the circumstances behind their situation, it makes the ensuing events even more exciting.  The script was well-executed, the effects were terrific and the cinematography was top-notch.  All of the actors played their roles wonderfully, especially LaBeouf, who has got an amazing career ahead of him, at the rate he’s going.

If edge-of-your-seat action is something that you enjoy, then I cannot recommend Eagle Eye strongly enough.  You may want to bring a sports drink to replenish yourself when it’s done, because trust me, you’ll need it.

5 / 5 stars

 
 
 
 

Review by Paul Edwards

Eagle Eye, the high-tension, high-budget, high-powered actioner starring Shia Laboeuf and Michelle Monaghan lights up the drab September skies with an exhilarating thriller that constantly climaxes, even though the payoffs are too little in comparison to the hype that went into promoting the film.  It featured some of the best acting I have seen for a straight action film, even if it is a bit over-the-top.

Jerry Shaw and Rachel Holloman both get a mysterious phone call from an unknown woman who demands they follow her instructions or else they will face the murder of their loved ones and themselves. On top of that, an FBI Agent, Thomas Morgan (Billy Bob Thornton), joined by Air Force investigator Zoe Perez (Rosario Dawson), tries to track down Jerry and Rachel, as they become the Untied States’ most wanted terrorists.

One professional critic used a phrase in a review of The Dark Knight that really stuck with me.  It was the phrase, “constant climax”, and it was used as a negative. Well, if there ever was a movie that had a negative constant climax, it was this one. Not because the scenes weren’t executed beautifully or the action wasn’t choreographed with precision. No, it was because after all the sweating and grabbing the seats and the emotion, all the observers get in return is nuts and butter, and it drags the movie down a bit.  It was very entertaining, but it lost the sticking power that separates good fluff films from great Oscar worthy films.

To expand on that thought, remember in The Dark Knight how we waited with so much anticipation to see Harvey become Two-Face?  If, in the end, he had ended up looking like Krusty the Klown, well, that film wouldn’t have grossed over $520 million, would it?  The point is, there were no jokes at the end of the punchline D.J. Caruso was writing. That was my major gripe with the movie.

On the positive side, as I said before, the acting was some of the best I’ve seen in an action film, which was a pleasant surprise.  This was not the screaming, insecure Shia  from Disturbia. This Shia is giving Pacino-like monologues and crying like Tobey Macguire. I applaud him and give him a lot of credit for displaying so much growth in so little time.  Michelle Monaghan brings in her usual grace and wisdom to an otherwise by-the-books role.  There is an actual life for Rachel that she brings to the table and it makes the constant climaxes all the more exciting.

In conclusion, Eagle Eye is a great popcorn flick that will probably fill up the seats in its opening weekend.  However, the reward for its expansive and expensive climax does not match its admission price, and that’s a downright shame, since it could have been a contender.

2 ½ / 5 stars
 
 
 
 

By Matthew Starr

In my review of Blindness I wrote that if an award aspiring drama is released in September then chances are it isn’t very good. I think we can just say that if a movie is released in September nowadays chances are it isn’t very good, regardless of genre. Sure the Bourne Ultimatum came out in August (another dead movie month) last year and was fantastic. But that film was the exception to the rule.

Eagle Eye is the latest over-hyped action movie geared towards the 12-18 male demographic. It stars Shia LaBeouf, who has come out of nowhere in the last two years to become one of Hollywood’s biggest young stars. (I guess landing roles in Transformers and the Indiana Jones sequel will do that.)

I have never liked Shia as an actor because his characters always seem so corny and phony. There is never any emotional depth to his characters and he is becoming quickly typecast as the unassuming hero, similar to what Michael J. Fox was doing in the 80’s except with more charisma and believability.

And speaking of believability, a lot of people are going to have issues with the events of this movie. I am always willing and able to suspend my disbelief in the name of entertainment, but that suspension can only go so far. From the opening scene in Eagle Eye to the very last nothing that happens has any sense of realism. Granted, this makes for some entertaining action scenes but in my opinion actions scenes are only effective if they involve interesting characters taking part in important and credible affairs. The plot of this movie is simply implausible and the audience will be rolling their eyes throughout the movie.

Shia plays Jerry Shaw, a young underachiever who lives on his own and who has just found out that his twin brother has died.  Then, without explanation, he comes home to find boxes and crates of ammo and bomb materials in his apartment. The very same night, he receives a call from a female voice telling him he has been “activated” and that he needs to follow her directions. Michelle Monaghan plays a single mother who receives a similar call around the same time. Eventually they meet and slowly figure out they are pawns being used in something larger than they can’t understand at the moment.

I won’t tell you who the antagonist is, but when the movie is over you will wonder why everything that happened needed to happen at all.  Not that there is any possibility it could have gone through all that to begin with. The one positive that I take from Eagle Eye is that Shia is slowly becoming a better and more adult actor. Hopefully he will sign on for a script not geared towards high-schoolers, and we’ll be able to see what he is capable of.

On a final note I must say that I was very displeased with the fate of Shia’s character. Can screenwriters and filmmakers please try to be a little bolder?

2 / 5 stars

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