Thursday, October 09, 2008

412 - Eagle Eye review



In “Eagle Eye,” Big Brother is watching. But unlike Orwell’s vision of countless government employees combing through every minute piece of information, it’s actually a computer system named Eagle Eye. Since it has a feminine voice, I’d have called it “Big Sister,” but that might bring a certain novel to mind.

This computer system is so advanced that it crafts an insanely elaborate plot to put two unfortunate individuals (Shia LaBeouf and Michelle Monaghan) into a series of car chases. Eagle Eye has a motive, as do all movie villains, but I could think of simpler ways of realizing its dreams. Then again, could I think of a way to generate crashes and explosions that makes more sense?

Probably. There’s not a lot of thought put into “Eagle Eye,” which proves that deus ex machina can now be accomplished for the whole of a two-hour movie by the magic of computers. Wherever the protagonists go, the computer sees and hears them. It manipulates stoplights, subways signs, airport x-ray machines, construction cranes, everything but the weather, really. Is every electronic device on the earth plugged into a server that can be accessed instantly by a supercomputer? I hope not.

This machine kicks everything off by phoning Jerry and Rachel, strangers unaware of all the death and goo-goo eyes that are about to commence, and commanding them to carry out a series of tasks for it. The endgame: assassination. Later, when the computer has no use for them, it hijacks an armed military drone and fires missiles at them. Did the computer ever think that the drone might have worked just fine at wiping out its target?

I’ll confess to something: Shia LaBeouf is growing on me. He has yet to star in a very good film, but I think I can see what Steven Spielberg and a bunch of other Hollywood execs see in him; there’s an acrimony that he shrewdly allows to shine through his affable everyman quality. “Eagle Eye” isn’t a bad vehicle for him, with its big budget and ample screen time, but it’s not particularly good, burdened with a story that’s fails nearly every conceivable logic test. At least he stars with Michelle Monaghan, the go-to actress if you have a character that’s impossibly cute, gently sympathetic, and over 25. But I’d of like to see her return to the deceptively charming vixen she played so well in “Kiss Kiss Bang Bang,” which seemed to prime her for roles more challenging (albeit less well-paying) than the ones she has taken since.

And what about Billy Bob Thornton? He plays an FBI agent tracking down the pair as they seemingly cause so much destruction. Thornton is easily one of the best actors alive, incapable of turning in a bad performance. But his role here is thoroughly uninteresting, a stock g-man plucked from the great bin of movie clichés, so thoroughly traversed by other films already that his lines could have been copied and pasted from other scripts. Any number of primetime TV actors could have handled the role almost as well, which says little about the part. I’m saddened that this is the second review in a row I’ve written that reminds my readers that I have a theory about kitchens: even A-list actors need to redo theirs once in a while.

1 comment:

Ramin said...

As a computer scientist, I can tell you that nearly every computer in the world is linked to the internet, but I am fairly certain that not one single computer can access all of them. One of the biggest concerns in computer security is this: how do we prevent one malicious program from interfering with the proper functioning of others? Whether a malicious computer program is written by malicious people, or is simply a mistake made by the programmers, it is a reality for every system to deal with, and engineers are quite proficient at preventing disasters from happening. Thats more than I can say for movie makers (wink, wink). Anyway, you have nothing to worry about from omnipresent AI machines.

Shia LaBeouf is growing on me too. But like you said, he has yet to star in a very good film.

I really liked how you described this movie: that every plot point fails the logic test. I think a lot of movies are like this, and I think your locution could become very handy to me.

Also, your description of Thorton's character: "a stock g-man plucked from the great bin of movie clichés, so thoroughly traversed by other films already that his lines could have been copied and pasted from other scripts. Any number of primetime TV actors could have handled the role almost as well..."

This is brilliant, really. I don't know how else to describe it, but I really like how this description reads.