Starring: Shia LaBeouf, Michelle Monaghan, Billy Bob Thornton
Directed by: D.J. Caruso (“Disturbia”)
Written by: Hillary Seitz (“Insomnia”), John Glenn (debut), Travis Wright (debut), Dan McDermott (debut)
Looks like the Patriot Act wasn’t such a good idea after all. At least that’s what the U.S. citizens who are forced to carry out terroristic conspiracies think in “Eagle Eye,” the newest action thriller directed by D.J. Caruso (“Disturbia”).
Don’t look now but regular people are being is listened to and watched through the technology they use everyday. Jerry Shaw, local employee of the Copy Cabana, realizes this first hand when he answers his cell phone and a mysterious female voice on the other end begins to give him directions so he can escape a situation he has no control over.
Having just buried his twin brother, who was in the military, Jerry doesn’t know what to believe when he find a surplus of weapons in his apartment and $750,000 in his once meager bank account. Soon, Jerry is running for his life from FBI agent Thomas Morgan (Billy Bob Thornton), who thinks he is part of some sort of terrorism plot.
Deciding to follow the directions of the unidentified woman who continues to call him, Jerry is led into a car driven by Rachel Holloman (Michelle Monaghan), a desperate mother who receives a message telling her that she has also been “activated” and that her son will be harmed if she does not comply with similar instructions. Before they know exactly what they’re involved in, the newly-introduced duo is blindly chasing after something although they have no idea what it is.
Helmed by four screenwriters, which can sometimes raise a red flag in any script, the idea of cyber-terrorism presented in “Eagle Eye” feels outdated even when it takes an Orwellian approach and adds clever twists to modernize the story. Still, the advances in the film’s surveillance techniques aren’t too impressive and the writers end up driving the plot uncomfortably close to ridiculous. It’s especially meaningless by the third act when the curtain is pulled back to reveal the cause of all the mayhem. There’s not much to beam over in the writers’ decision making at this point. And there’s only so much a talented LaBeouf can do, even if he is supposed to be the next Tom Hanks.
Although in some earlier scenes the paranoia factor reaches some intense moments a la David Fincher’s “The Game,” those instances are too few and far between and Jerry and Rachel’s mad dash to the finish line pulls up limp. “Eagle Eye,” with all its underlying messages about high-tech governmental regulation, manages to become a bit more exciting than finding a convenient store with a dashboard GPS.