Ah, the seemingly perfect combination of Steven Spielberg, director D.J. Caruso, and everyman leading star Shia LaBeouf. These guys took us by storm with the pleasant surprise Disturbia last year, and pretty much anything with the name Spielberg on it has to be at least entertaining, if not excellent. That's what Eagle Eye is.
First off, I cannot stress this enough: don't take this movie seriously. Please don't get mad because the movie isn't realistic. I know it's unrealistic. You know it. Shia LaBeouf knows it. That doesn't stop Eagle Eye from being one of the most entertaining and effective thrillers of recent memory. Is it as smart or as gripping as other chase and mystery thrillers such as the Bourne series? Of course not. However, whenever Eagle Eye stretches our minds to the breaking limits with the insanity on screen, it manages to throw in a mind boggling action sequence or two right as we start to get mad.
The film, very well masked by trailers that really only show the beginning of the film and small pieces of the end, deals with cyber-terrorism and a secret military project dealing with destruction and national security. The US Secretary of Defense is portrayed (Michael Chiklis), it's incredibly unrealistic, has Shia LaBeouf, and has a prominent military character (Anthony Mackie). I can already here the Transformers comparisons flying in. The film also lacks in the originality department elsewhere, as elements of I, Robot and Live Free or Die Hard are also present and quite obvious.
I cannot give enough accolades to whoever thought up this action - Eagle Eye boasts arguably the best action sequences of the year. The CGI is seamless and more than worthy of an Oscar nomination. With car chases to rival the best of them, as well as one of the most clever "on-foot" chases I've ever seen within an airport, Eagle Eye never fails to grab your attention with the incredible action sequences.
Now to our cast, the headliners of which are two of film's biggest rising stars. Both live up to their names and reputations admirably. Shia LaBeouf revisits the "troubled youth" character he created in Disturbia, though his turn here is darker and has more depth. He really stretches some acting muscle in the beginning of the film, and it is because of this early success that we are willing to go along for the ride with him, following, trusting, and believing in his Jerry Shaw. Michelle Monaghan, long one of the most underrated in the business, also helps us believe in her character with a convincing show of emotion early in the film. The whole film, despite the action sequences, rides on the shoulders of the leads. If the audience doesn't like them, the film will ultimately fail. I'm pleased to tell you that they rise to the occasion and carry the film with ease.
Our supporting cast includes veterans Billy Bob Thornton and Michael Chiklis. Maybe it was the script, but Thornton's character was so stereotypical and overdone that it almost made him laughable - especially towards the end. Chiklis did great in his role as the Secretary of Defense - and the unfortunate "victim" of circumstance. Rosario Dawson and Anthony Mackie are acceptable in even smaller roles.
I remember when I watched my first D.J. Caruso film a few years ago (Two For the Money), and I remember how much I hated that film. However, Caruso has certainly grown as a filmmaker and has found his niche in the hugely entertaining action blockbuster genre, even if a lot of "movie borrowing" is done. This will be his breakthrough that will allow him a little more freedom as a filmmaker and possibly allow him to blossom into more than just an action film director. The touches of Spielberg are obvious, as the legendary director/producer's presence is only a plus.
Eagle Eye, in short, is a summer blockbuster released in September. It feels like a summer film, and has the components of a summer film: explosions, terrorism, and Shia LaBeouf. It is everything you want in an entertaining action thriller. Don't go looking for your super realistic epic here - Eagle Eye prides itself on blowing your mind every way possible.