Released: September 26, 2008
|by Dan Goldwasser
on December 24th, 2008
This past fall's box office hit Eagle Eye was based on an idea by executive producer Steven Spielberg, produced by Transformers scribes Roberto Orci and Alex Kurtzman, and directed by Disturbia's D.J. Caruso. The result is a more technologically advanced reboot of North by Northwest (much as Disturbia drew from Rear Window) that pushes the bounds of absurdity, while providing edge-of-your-seat tension and energy. Jerry Shaw (Shia LaBeouf) is a slacker who is framed for terrorism following the death of his twin brother who was in the military, and Rachel Holloman (Michelle Monaghan), a single mother whose son's life is at risk. Both of these protagonists are being manipulated by a mysterious female voice on a telephone who seems to be able to see everything going on, and tells them what to do, if they want to live. Meanwhile, Homeland Security team leader Thomas Morgan (Billy Bob Thornton) is trying to track down Shaw, who escaped custody with the assistance of the 'mysterious voice', and soon everyone is caught up in a government conspiracy that could affect the entire chain of command. It borders on absurdity most of the time, with some truly outrageous "coincidences" that allow for the story to proceed. The idea that the 'mysterious voice' could see everything at once makes sense (once you discover who it is), but just because you are all-seeing doesn't give you the ability to predict the future. It's just a level of absurdity that diminishes the otherwise enjoyable tension in the film - but it's still an entertaining ride.
Now hitting home video, Eagle Eye arrives as a two-disc special edition DVD, and a single-disc special edition Blu-ray. The video quality is quite good. Shot by veteran cinematographer Dariusz Wolski, the movie has a bit of a rough look to it, with handheld camerawork adding to the intensity of the action sequences, and a realistic lighting setup. It's not quite reference quality, but the high bitrate allows for maximum detail to be retained, and it's a crisp detailed image. Audio is presented in English Dolby TrueHD, and French and Spanish Dolby Digital. This punchy soundtrack will fill your room and throw you into the heart of the action. Dialogue is clear and distinct, and Brian Tyler's adrenaline-filled score comes at you from all directions.
Supplements on the disc are a bit anemic, but what is provided is certainly informative enough. There are four "Deleted Scenes" (4.5-minutes), including an alternate ending. None of them really add anything to the story, and the alternate ending sets up a sequel in a rather hammy way. There is no audio commentary on the film, but a nice featurette "Asymmetrical Warfare: The Making of Eagle Eye" (25.5-minutes) covers most of the basic topics, including casting, cinematography, stunts, and set design. "Eagle Eye on Location: Washington, D.C." (6-minutes) looks at the real locations that the crew was able to film in Washington, D.C. (the Library of Congress and the Pentagon), with comments by producer Peter Chiarelli, actor Michael Chicklis and others. "Is My Cell Phone Spying On Me?" (9-minutes) is an interesting featurette that explores the way that everyday technology might be used for surveillance. In light of the current NSA program, this might stoke some paranoid fears, but Spielberg came up with the story ten years ago. The risks posed to our privacy rights are explored as well - it's a well done and timely featurette.
"Shall We Play a Game?" (9-minutes) is an interesting and unexpected piece: director D.J. Caruso talks with his friend and fellow director John Badham about the film, and the similarities it has with Badham's 1983 classic, WarGames. "Road Trip" (3-minutes) is a very fast look at all the challenges facing the cast and crew with the large number of locations that the movie shot in, never staying in the same location for more than one or two days. The insistence by Caruso to rely on physical effects more than digital effects is also touched upon (and much appreciated). A "Photo Gallery" provides some behind-the-scenes imagery from Eagle Eye, and a "Gag Reel" (7-minutes) provides some goofy flubs (mainly Billy Bob Thornton's mistakes), and finally a "Theatrical Trailer" (2.5-minutes) finishes out the extras.
It's a rather absurd film, but Eagle Eye is still a fun ride. While it's lacking a commentary track and anything on Brian Tyler's music (which usually gets some kind of featurette), there are still a handful of decent extras, the film is given a very well done video and audio presentation. I can only imagine that - if they do a sequel - we might be revisiting this film down the road with more special features, but for now it's worth checking out if you want to check your brain at the door, and have a fun time on a rainy day.
|by Dan Goldwasser
on October 1st, 2008
Ahh yes, the fall movie season arrives in style with a new spin on the typical government paranoia film, Eagle Eye. Supposedly inspired by an idea by Steven Spielberg, the movie (written by John Glenn, Travis Wright and Hillary Seitz based on an original screenplay by Dan McDermott) follows Jerry Shaw (Shia LaBeouf), a slacker who is framed for terrorism following the death of his twin brother who was in the military, and Rachel Holloman (Michelle Monaghan), a single mother whose son's life is at risk. Both of these protagonists are being manipulated by a mysterious female voice on a telephone who seems to be able to see everything going on, and tells them what to do, if they want to live. Meanwhile, Homeland Security team leader Thomas Morgan (Billy Bob Thorton) is trying to track down Shaw, who escaped custody with the assistance of the 'mysterious voice', and soon everyone is caught up in a government conspiracy that could affect the entire chain of command.
Eagle Eye plays like a new version of Enemy of the State with a splash of The Manchurian Candidate. It borders on absurd about 99% of the time, with some truly outrageous "coincidences" that allow for the story to proceed. The idea that the 'mysterious voice' could see everything at once makes sense (once you discover who it is), but just because you are all-seeing doesn't give you the ability to predict the future. It's just a level of absurdity that diminishes the otherwise enjoyable tension in the film.
Director D.J. Caruso delivers a slick and energetic movie, so it's never boring, but the 'twist' towards the end is a head-shaker, and occasionally the film suffers from shaky-cam syndrome, preventing the audience from truly enjoying the good choreography and stunts. The music by Brian Tyler is exciting and strong, helping propel the action forward, in an almost unrelenting fashion.
Steven Spielberg was to direct Eagle Eye, but instead directed Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull. I am not sure that his version of Eagle Eye would have been any better than Caruso's, but I'd rather have had a bad Spielberg sci-fi thriller than a classic franchise ruined with a bad sequel. Eagle Eye might not deliver anything truly amazing, but in terms of escapist fare, it's not bad entertainment - it's just not smart.
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