Eagle Eye
Michelle Monaghan is so amazing, gravity can’t contain her!

Theatrical Release Date: 09/26/2008
Director: DJ Caruso
Cast: Shia LaBeouf, Michelle Monaghan, Rosario Dawson, Michael Chiklis, Anthony Mackie, Ethan Embry, Billy Bob Thornton, William Sadler

Have you wanted to see what would happen if you mashed up the films, “Stealth“, “Swordfish” and “Runaway”? Well, wait no further because “Eagle Eye” is here (also, you should probably ask for your money back on that lobotomy).

In this techno-thriller, everyone’s favorite hipster hero (but mine), Shia LaBeouf and Michelle Monaghan (who I do like) are forcibly thrust into a tangled web of terrorism, chase scenes and clashes with Big Brother ideology. Hot on their heels are Billy Bob Thornton and Rosario Dawson, trying to not only capture these wanted fugitives, but determine their motives as well.

“Eagle Eye” is essentially a 118 minute chase scene. While we have to endure some mindless prattling by LaBeouf as he swindles some fellow copy store employees in a back-office poker game, once the mysterious female voice recruits him and Monaghan over a phone to perform a number of illegal acts, the audience must sit back and wait for it all to resolve itself.

Now, to be clear for people who were interested in seeing this, keep in mind my basic disdain for LaBeauf. I’m tired of seeing the same frenetic, neurotic, scrawny kid be our savior from potentially world-altering events. (Enjoy the video link at the end of the review to see what I think of his “acting” ability.) He’s the same character in every film and that only works if you’re George Clooney because at least he’s likable.

Oh wait, LaBeouf did change his character for this film! Wait for it … wait for it … he grew facial hair! Mazeltov on the coming of age, son. Soon, you’ll find that girls aren’t so icky and don’t actually have cooties … well, maybe the first part.

My biases aside, what made “Eagle Eye” so unenjoyable for me was not just Shia’s inclusion but a combination of far too many elements that were, to be polite, less than stellar. I’ll start with the score. It’s raucous and jarring, constantly competing with the images on screen rather than complimenting them. I’m not being facetious when I say that I haven’t been more annoyed by a score since “Timeline” or possibly “Mission to Mars”. If I want to be assaulted by noise for noise’s sake, I can just crank up the stereo and wait for my ears to bleed.

Then there’s the director, DJ Caruso (who may or may not be available to play music at weddings). Apparently, his idea of great action is to shove a camera as close to moving elements as possible, jump cut about every 1/4 of a second and make sure that the only thing more jarring than the crashes are the ridiculously overblown noises that accompany them.

A lot of the blame must also go to the screenwriters John Glenn and Travis Wright, for having about as much original thought in the project as a plagiarized term paper. Every idea is a retread of something else … heck, one of the biggest plot points is a combination of “XXX 2″ and, as Elizabeth Edgemont pointed out to me, that episode of “South Park” where something bad would happen if John Stamos’ brother, Richard, hit the high F note (this last bit is a massive rip-off and it’s perhaps the first time I’m rooting for a lawsuit to happen) … I mean, come on people! If you’re going be this ridiculous and overblown about everything, at least cast one rapper. What’s Busta Rhymes up to these days?

The best part about my issues with their lack of originality is looking at their next projects – remakes of “The Warriors” and “Clash of the Titans”. Please make the Hollywood retread machine stop! Now they’re going after cult films … is it really that hard to write something from scratch?

My final gripe (that I’m bothering to write down for posterity) is the ending. I know why it was done in the manner that it’s presented but with so many other good films realizing that there’s an organic way to resolve things and then there’s the screenwriting 101 version … well, it just irks me is all. Take a risk Hollywood, you’d be surprised what audiences will forgive you for.

To no surprise, I’m going to get in my Buffalo Stance and give “Eagle Eye” a 1 out of 5. I had a headache upon exiting the theater and had scribbled mostly obscenities on my notepad throughout the “experience”. I do think that it’s possible I’m being overly harsh as once I get going on a rant, it’s hard to stop me – but if anyone actually says this is a well-crafted film, well … just back away slowly and try not to make eye contact. I wouldn’t want harm to come to any of my readers that they didn’t deserve.

Extra tidbit: For a little fun, check out this video of Shia’s acting versatility. It’s enlightening … unless you’re already on my side of the fence … then it’s just sad and hilarious. Don’t forget to think about how much money he gets paid to do this … then you’ll feel really great about things.