Sunday, November 23, 2008

Eagle Eye

Eagle Eye is cinematic gibberish on a level unseen since The Core, a heightened exercise in babbling nonsense and jaw-droppingly bizarre plot twists that will have you shaking your head in embarrassment if you aren't howling with laughter. That's not to say that it isn't mildly entertaining, because there's car chases and bus chases and airplanes and machine guns and rockets and explosions and robots and murder and a huge body count, the stuff great cinema is made of, but ultimately I couldn't help but be disappointed because the trailers made it look like a solid "wrong man, wrong place, wrong time" thriller.

I love those types of thrillers - Collateral is still one of my favorite movies of the decade. But while I guess Eagle Eye's protagonist is a traditional "wrong man," in this case receiving a series of cell phone calls from an all-seeing, all-knowing malevolent force trying to coerce him into aiding in a political assassination, the other interesting thing about a thriller beyond the wrong man and the action is the unravelling of the villain's conspiracy / plot, in this case some hilariously retarded science fiction nonsense with no more of a foot in reality than Men in Black.

Again, outside of the screenplay there aren't any huge problems. Over half the movie's runtime is probably someone running or driving away from pursuers or guns being fired or something blowing up, and director DJ Caruso handles all this madness just fine, not immensely memorably, but well enough that it would be acceptable amid a better story. The budget is all up there on the screen in exploding vehicles.

The performances are all good. Shia LaBeouf acquits himself well even though he's playing a very similar "troubled young man" to what he played in DJ Caruso's superior thriller Disturbia. Billy Bob Thorton is always entertaining. Most noteworthy to me was Michelle Monaghan; even though her character is a worthless cipher shoehorned in so Shia LaBeouf has someone to bounce exposition off of, she is incredibly naturalistic and engaging onscreen and I hope she continues to get major work in (better) big movies.

But ultimately, it's just too silly. I'm a big, big believer in suspension of disbelief, and I can go pretty goddamn far in accepting ludicrous plots in my TV shows and major motion pictures if it strings along the entertainment. But it's just too much here, even for me. I wouldn't accept swiss cheese that was more holes than cheese, and I can't accept a story that's more plot holes than plot. It may be entertaining if you can just absorb yourself in the action and spectacle, but turn your brain all the way off first.

2 Stars out of 5

No comments: