In the last couple of years Shia LeBeouf has matured from zany teen star of the Disney Channel’s Even Stevens to the unlikely action hero of movies like Transformers, Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull and Disturbia. The latest film hoping to parlay his on-screen likeability into big box office returns is Eagle Eye, a thriller that asks how far would you go to protect the ones you love when your life has suddenly turned into one long terrorist red alert.
As the action begins LeBeouf is slacker Jerry Shaw, a copy center clerk whose overachieving twin brother has just been killed in a car accident. In another part of town single mother Rachel Holloman (Michelle Monaghan) is preparing her 8-year-old son for a trip to Washington, DC. Their lives are brought together when they both receive mysterious phone calls, coercing them into a series of dangerous situations. As their circumstances spins out of control and with the FBI on their heels, the two bond to try and discover who is behind the threatening phone calls.
The word “implausible” could have been invented to describe the plot of Eagle Eye. Director D.J. Caruso has crafted the most elaborate terrorist plot ever! This one makes all the James Bond villains, in all the 007 books and movies with their combined evil genius IQs look like beginners. The idea that the mysterious voice on the phone is all seeing and can control the entire world’s technology from traffic lights to cell phones to pixel boards in airports is mind-bogglingly fanciful but is executed with so much style that the unbelievable aspects of the story get swept away by the film’s breathless pacing.
The manipulation of technology that leads LeBeouf and Monaghan further and further down the rabbit hole, while improbable, perfectly plays into people’s fear of technology. What would happen if someone or something could actually turn all the computers, cell phones and techno gadgets that have become part of our everyday lives against us? The movie offers up one possibility, but is essentially just a cartoon, a wild ride that values action and explosions over the any high-falutin’ ideas about privacy issues or the helplessness that ordinary people feel in the face of terrorism. It is simply a taut thriller that aims to keep you on the edge of your seat.
LeBeouf and Monaghan have good chemistry as the everyman and woman leads and Billy Bob Thornton hands in a smooth and occasionally funny performance as FBI Agent Thomas Morgan, but frankly, the actors here are simply a plot device for Eagle Eye’s wild action scenes.