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Eagle Eye (2008)

Paramount Home Entertainment
DVD Released: 12/28/2008

All Ratings out of
Movie: 1/2
Audio: 1/2

Review by Mike Long, Posted on 12/29/2008

Critics, both professional and amateur (mostly amateur) will often talk about the "suspension of disbelief" when discussing a movie. This is the idea that a movie will ask us to excuse the fact that what we are seeing is completely unbelievable and just go along with it. Of course, the notion of "suspension of disbelief" can be applied to any fiction film. If we are watching a movie which contains character who don't exist doing things which never occurred, then we must naturally take this on faith and simply accept the story at face value. As evidenced by the many vocal film-fans on-line, many detest the idea of "suspension of disbelief". But, there is something worse: there are film which ask us to completely ignore the lapses in logic in the story and not wonder why anything is happening in the way in which it does. Eagle Eye is such a film.

Shia LaBeouf stars in Eagle Eye as Jerry Shaw, a young man who works in a copy shop, and can barely make ends meet. Jerry is saddened to learn that his twin brother, who was in the military, has been killed. Following the funeral, Jerry returns to his flea-bag apartment to find it filled with boxes which contain military equipment. As he's attempting to figure this out, his cell phone rings and a female voice instructs him to flee. Instead of heeding this, Jerry is immediately apprehended by the FBI. At this same time, Rachel Holloman (Michelle Monaghan) has escorted her young son, Sam (Cameron Boyce), to the train station to see him off on a trip to Washington, where his school band is to perform. As she is leaving, she gets a call from the same female voice, which states that Sam will be harmed if Rachel doesn't comply. Jerry is interrogated by FBI Agent Thomas Morgan (Billy Bob Thornton), who doesn't know what to make of the case. Things get even stranger when Jerry escapes from custody and is picked up by Rachel. The two complete strangers realize that they are both being ordered about by the same person, and are helpless but to comply. But, why is this happening to them?

Enemy of the State came out 10 years ago, so I guess that it's not too soon for someone to update that kind of story and include the advancements in technology which have taken place in the interim. Like that Will Smith thriller from a decade ago (has it really been 10 years?), Eagle Eye presents us with an ordinary, everyday person who suddenly finds himself caught in a web of government surveillance from which he can't escape. But, instead of simply being tailed by satellites, as in Enemy of the State, the characters in Eagle Eye are being monitored through their own cell phones, security cameras, traffic cameras, etc. -- anything which transmits a signal can be used for surveillance. The movie wants us to believe that no matter where we are, there is some kind of electronic device which is watching us.

If only writers John Glenn, Travis Adam Wright, Hillary Seitz, and Dan McDermott (working from a story which was reportedly the brainchild of Executive Producer Steven Spielberg) had put as much thought into the logic of the story as they did into the ways in which Jerry and Rachel can be watched. It doesn't take long for the events in Eagle Eye to become far-fetched, but that's OK -- we're here to see an escapist action film. But soon, we are questioning the character's actions; While Rachel's motivations sort of make sense, Jerry never do. The middle section of the film turns into a chase scene cum road movie, and we marvel at the narrow escapes which Jerry and Rachel are able to pull off. At this point, the film is still well within that "suspension of disbelief" bubble; it's all silly and incredible, but it's no worse than the hokum which we've swallowed in other action films. But, in the third act, Eagle Eye begins to insult us. The film explains why Jerry is involved in this whole situation and then elaborates on this explanation...completely nullifying any logic in the story. I trying to not give anything away here, but essentially, Eagle Eye tells us what's happening, and then it tells us more of what's happening, and then we realize that none of it needed to happen in the first place. A friend asked me is watching this movie made want to turn off my TV for fear of being watched. It made me want to turn off my TV alright, but not due to paranoia.

Eagle Eye re-teams LaBeouf with Disturbia director D.J. Caruso. While that film was a shameless rip-off of Rear Window, it was still a fun thriller. Eagle Eye appears to be heading in that same direction at first, as the beginning of the movie is a nice combination of Enemy of the State and The Fugitive. However, the story soon begins to run amok and all of the explosions and car wrecks in the world can't distract us from the fact that this is a very dumb movie.

Eagle Eye contradicts itself on DVD courtesy of Paramount Home Entertainment. The film has been letterboxed at 2.35:1 and the transfer is enhanced for 16 x 9 TVs. The image is very sharp and clear, showing only a hint of grain at times and no defects from the source material. However, the image is slightly dark in some scenes. The colors are good and I detected no artifacting. The DVD carries a Dolby Digital 5.1 audio track which provides clear dialogue and sound effects. This is a very robust track which really does justice to the action scenes. The stereo effects are well-done and display good separation. The surround sound effects are nicely played during the action scenes and, along with the deep subwoofer action, really place the viewer in the action.

The Eagle Eye 2-disc set contains many extras. Disc 1 contains three DELETED SCENES which run about 4 minutes. All three of these are brief and include no new ideas or information. "Road Trip" (3 minutes) examines how the shoot moved from place-to-place as the characters travelled cross-country. The cast and filmmakers talk about the various locations used. The remainder of the extras are found on Disc 2. "Alternate Ending" (1 minute) tacks on a final scene which gives the kind of coda which could hint at a sequel. "Asymmertical Warfare: The Making of Eagle Eye" (25 minutes) is the standard making-of which looks at the story, the cast, the stunts & physical effects, and set design. The piece does a good job of examining the film's major scenes. "Eagle Eye on Location: Washington, D.C." (6 minutes) shows the cast and crew at work around some very famous locales. "Is My Cell Phone Spying on Me?" (9 minutes) examines the technology and ideas in the film and explores the reality of them. "Shall We Play a Game?" (9 minutes) is a conversation between Director D.J. Caruso and Wargame director John Badham. The extras are rounded out by a GAG REEL (7 minutes), a PHOTO GALLERY, and the film's THEATRICAL TRAILER.

Paramount Home Entertainment has also brought Eagle Eye to Blu-ray Disc. The film has been letterboxed at 2.35:1 and the Disc contains a 1080p HD transfer which runs at an average of 30 Mbps. The image looks very good, as it's quite sharp and clear, showing only a hint of grain and no defects from the source material. I did notice that skin tones were a bit waxy in the nighttime shots. The colors are very good, and the image is well-balanced, not showing the darkness seen on the DVD. The image is somewhat flat thought, but the detail level is acceptable. The Disc carries a Dolby TrueHD 5.1 audio track which runs at 48 kHz and an average of 3.7 Mbps. The track provides clear dialogue and sound effects. This track shows the continuing improvement of Paramount's Blu-ray audio. The stereo effects are quite good and are nicely detailed. (We hear every sound at the train station or in the finale.) The stereo separation is good and the track does a great job with scenes where the action moves from the front speakers to the rear or vice-versa. The subwoofer effects are top-notch and the explosions have a real presence.

The extras on the Blu-ray Disc are the same as those found on the 2-disc DVD set.

Review Copyright 2008 by Mike Long