Eagle Eye (DreamWorks SKG, PG-13)

eagleeye.jpgThe sound of things crashing (another breathtaking sequence involving a skittering tractor-trailer rivals the one in the latest Die Hard movie), blowing up, careening this way and that, etc., is constant, and it’s somewhat atypical how long some of these sequences go on, as opposed to the quick cuts practiced in other movies of this type. You may get a headache, but you won’t be bored.  

 

 

 

 

Ka-blaam! Shuffle, shuffle, WHAP! VROOM VROOM! Screeeech, crunch, BLAM BLAM BLAM, Ka-BOOM! Ka-BOOM! America’s in trouble!

Okay, so there’s a really short review of the new action movie Eagle Eye. If you need a few more details, read on. I began the critique that way because this movie sets some kind of new record for relentless action, crashes and theater-shaking ‘splosions. It’s almost comical how fast-paced and nonstop the film’s visceral chase scenes are, although viewers will have to decide for themselves if this is a good thing or not.

But in its head-clubbing, throat-grabbing way, this is quite a memorable popcorn-muncher of a movie. It stars Shia LaBeouf and Michelle Monaghan as two ordinary people who are inexplicably framed by terrorists in some shadowy assassination plot, and find themselves being given orders through a bewildering variety of technological means by some detached female voice that directs them mostly on their cell phones. Jerry Shaw (LaBeouf) has just experienced the death of his vaguely estranged twin brother, making him even more of a mournful drifter than he was before. Rachel Holloman (Monaghan) is a young single mother whose son is off to band camp or something, and she’s out with some girlfriends for a drink when suddenly that darn voice calls on her cell and says that if she doesn’t follow specific directions immediately, her son will die. Nasty!

Shaw, meanwhile, comes back to his apartment and finds a huge shipment of weapons, ammonium nitrate and other tools of the terrorist trade, and he’s ordered to vacate by “the voice” so quickly that the explosions and craziness commence before he can even comprehend what’s going on. Soon enough, Shaw and Holloman end up on a train together comparing notes, and trying to figure out what the hell is going on. But there’s little time for small talk; they are commanded to perform ever more daunting tasks by the unknown voice, in a rapid fire manner or, like, they’ll die and stuff. “Take the next right.” “Take the briefcase from the man when he steps out of the truck.” “Jump out of the car right now or you’ll drown.” Those are just examples of the kinds of insta-directions the beleaguered pair receive, and when they hesitate, it means more explosions and close calls to…death and stuff.

On their trail is Government Agent Thomas Morgan (Billy Bob Thornton) who pursues them with the kind of no-holds-barred determination that Tommy Lee Jones’ sheriff possessed in The Fugitive, which at times this movie superficially resembles. A jaw-dropping sequence filmed on an airport’s multi-directional baggage conveyor is one of many that director D.J. Caruso (Disturbia, Taking Lives) films with undeniable panache and assuredness. Morgan is assisted by DOD analyst Zoe Perez (Rosario Dawson), who is seemingly the only one to suspect that maybe the attractive Holloman and Shaw don’t look like yer garden-variety terrorists.

Technology of all kinds relentlessly monitors the fugitive couple’s every move, rendering them pawns in a labyrinthine game in which the stakes grow higher every minute. The sound of things crashing (another breathtaking sequence involving a skittering tractor-trailer rivals the one in the latest Die Hard movie), blowing up, careening this way and that, etc., is constant, and it’s somewhat atypical how long some of these sequences go on, as opposed to the quick cuts practiced in other movies of this type. You may get a headache, but you won’t be bored.

Naturally, there’s some moralizing in the film about the oppressive effects of technology and the dangers posed to our basic rights and freedoms during this ongoing war on terror. As valid as this may be, it’s not handled particularly well here, and comes across a bit heavy-handed. Also, this is no actor’s movie. LaBeouf and Monaghan (a striking actress who did better work in both Gone Baby Gone and Mission Impossible 3) aren’t given much to do except look utterly frazzled, bewildered and sometimes really pissed off. Thornton and Dawson occasionally show more nuances in their performances. But honestly, this is just a big, noisy carnival ride of a movie with a more relentless pace than what you’re used to. It’s not deep and it’s not tonally varied or rich, but if you’re a fan of cinematic roller coasters and eye-popping action, this movie serves it up straight, uh, with lots of chaser. | Kevin Renick

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