Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Eagle Eye

Show Yourself

From one cellphone-centric movie in Connected another with Eagle Eye, this movie dwells on the fears of man about the abuse of technology, given how pervasive a simple device like the mobile phone, could be a haven for anyone tapped into the network to triangulate your whereabouts. Some other fears get presented, such as activating the microphone within without your knowledge, eavesdropping on your conversation whether or not you're on the phone. Big Brother heaven, but ordinary citizen's nightmare.

Granted the proper use of technology, which in the first 10 minutes of the film, we got a glimpse at the possibilities which, if not already is, the future of such usage. Gone are the eyes in the skies, now replaced with eyes from outer space and connected to one another through intelligent networks ripe for the abusive picking. While the terrorism buzzword has been bandied around in a number of movies for some time already, I can't recall off the top of my head any cyber-terrorism movie worth your while, until perhaps now.

It's a different approach to the subject actually, and to say anything more would be to let the cat out of the bag. But it does make one sit back and think about contingencies, backups, and just how much human intervention in the form of checks and balances that need to be in place to justify the existence and reliance on intelligent algorithms. In a way the movie doesn't break new ground, in that the chief villain here (barring the arrogance of man) is nothing not seen before, and the manner it was dispatched, well, a matter of cinematic convenience.

Directed by D.J. Caruso (who also helmed the Shia LaBeouf vehicle Disturbia), Eagle Eye follows the three narrative thread formula which has concurrent events developing at the same time at frantic pace, leaving you with not much room to breathe as you can presented with facts, figures and arguments, coupled with constant probing of just what exactly is going on. We follow Jerry Shaw (Shia LaBeouf) and Rachel Holloman (Michelle Monaghan), two ordinary citizens who through the picking up of a random phonecall, they become slaves to do the bidding of the monotone voice at the other side of the line. At risk is Jerry's escape from the law, having being framed for being a terrorist, while Rachel has her son dangled in front of her as collateral.

There's something not quite right with the two of them running around doing seemingly menial tasks, to the more dangerous stunts like robbing an armoured truck, which leads to the other two threads, involving Billy Bob Thorton's FBI Agent Thomas Morgan, and Rosario Dawson's Zoe Perez as an Air Force investigator being called up to the Pentagon where we slowly learn what could actually have gone wrong.

Hollywood "It" boy LaBeouf continues his string of box office successes (Eagle Eye opened at #1 at the US box office) and has made clueless, carefree teenagers his forte. Here, with the assistance of some overnight shadow around his chin, he brings on certain gravitas and maturity to what is essentially a Keanu-Reeves type character. Michelle Monaghan gets a boost in the action-thriller genre from her stint under Tom Cruise's Mission Impossible: III, and doesn't look a bit out of place here as a mother willing to go to extreme lengths to ensure the safety of her son.

The supporting cast though were a little wasted. Rosario Dawson's role didn't require her to do anything other than to look sharp in uniform, while Billy Bob was just plain Billy Bob. Action sequences were a little hit and miss, going back to basics with yet another tussle in a tunnel with big bang explosions, to the more innovative literally blink-and-you-miss moment involving huge electric cables, or having a field day within baggage handling.

Eagle Eye is a surprisingly taut action thriller that held your attention just right until about when it showed hand and revealed its source code, then it's treading of familiar territory thereafter. Held great potential in having you guess just what and how things are done the way they were, until you realize its bluff, and then it's just your usual through passage to the finale, with a cop out ending to boot too.

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