Sunday, December 28, 2008

EAGLE EYE: fast-moving shlock with some nice/nasty ideas buried in plain sight

Yes, the movie -- out today on DVD -- is overwrought and unbelievable. But it moves so fast (sometimes too fast) that it seldom bores for more than a minute, even though it's at least ten of those minutes too long. Director D.J. Caruso has followed up his two good films (The Salton Sea and the under-rated Two for the Money) and his two bad films (Taking Lives and the over-rated Disturbia) with this one, which, though his most successful box-office-wise, falls somewhere between the good and bad.

There is a very good reason to watch it, however. What EAGLE EYE offers (that few if any mainstream movies have given us) is a very interesting, even incisive probing of the actions of our about-to-depart political administration. You can't play the who's-who game here because none of the participants follow their respective models. But overall, the actions and sensibility of this bunch is close enough to give us the creeps. The very first scene sets up the moral basis of the entire film and is, in fact, responsible for the actions of the "villain." As the movie progresses, the real tension comes via the notion that there is indeed a way to rid the country of its foul leaders, yet this is a way that absolutely goes against the grain of what so many of us would prefer to believe in. This conflict is invigorating and keeps the movie engrossing, despite its near-constant serving up of additional (and increasingly unnecessary) car chases and slam-bam action scenes.

The two leads (shown above) -- Shia LaBeouf and Michelle Monaghan (some day this actress must play Marcia Gay Harden's daughter or younger self) -- are fine, but it is the supporting cast that provides the most pleasure: Billy Bob Thornton, Rosario Dawson, Michael Chiklis, Anthony Mackie and Ethan Embry. Otherwise, it's the fraught combination of power and morality on view that gives the film its punch -- that, and maybe its nod/crib/homage to 2001.

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