Apparently in just four short months we’ll have a government surveillance system so extensive that it is linked up to literally every electronic device in the entire country, and can monitor people’s conversations simply by reading their lips or picking up the vibrations in their coffee cups. That’s not even the height of the absurdity to be found in Eagle Eye, which takes place in January 2009, although to chronicle all of its far-fetched speculation would delve too deeply into spoiler territory.
Not that spoilers would really do much to ruin a movie like this; despite its technological trappings, Eagle Eye is your standard innocent-man-on-the-run-from-conspiracy thriller, although in this case it’s an innocent man and an innocent woman: smart but aimless slacker Jerry (LaBeouf) and single mother Rachel (Monaghan) are both targeted by a mysterious woman who calls and tells them they’re about to be nabbed by the authorities because they’ve been framed for terrorism. On the run from a dogged FBI agent (Thornton) and a steely Air Force investigator (Dawson), they’re forced to commit various crimes under threat of harm to themselves and their loved ones, culminating in a tense showdown in Washington, D.C.
Caruso directed LaBeouf in the decent Rear Window rip-off Disturbia, and at first Eagle Eye seems like it might be another solid but unremarkable Alfred Hitchcock pastiche, taking off from wrong-place-wrong-time classic North by Northwest. But as the absurd contrivances mount, and the omnipotence of the shadowy conspiracy becomes more and more hard to buy into, the movie loses its footing, and by the end it has more in common with The Terminator than with anything by Hitchcock.
LaBeouf makes a credible bid for action-hero status, although his occasional stabs at emotional depth don’t really go anywhere. Monaghan gets even less to work with, and Thornton and Dawson are clearly just cashing paychecks on the way to something more interesting. Caruso stages some decent action sequences, but the stakes are so overblown and unbelievable that it’s hard to care about their outcome. One thing he clearly has yet to learn from Hitchcock is subtlety. –Josh Bell