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Eagle Eye
Genre Thriller
Year: 2008

Eagle Eye is the second film starring Shia LeBeouf with D.J. Caruso in the director’s chair, following closely on the back of Disturbia. Disturbia cemented both artists within Hollywood, using a contemporary Hitchcockian makeover in the shadows of Rear Window. Now they’re back in Eagle Eye, which is more of a magpie. The film parallels Hitchcock’s The Man Who Knew Too Much and takes shiny bits and pieces from the likes of Live Free or Die Hard, The Matrix, Enemy of the State and Minority Report. Caruso is no stranger, when it comes to thrillers and gives this fast-paced action movie real flair. The story and themes may seem familiar, but this patchwork original still manages to hold its own as a piece of thrilling entertainment. The only setback, besides its resonance with finer films, is the preposterous plot, which makes Armageddon look like Apollo 13.

Shia LeBeouf is trying to set himself up in Hollywood as the next Jimmy Stewart. He’s a instantly likable guy, who couldn’t hurt a fly. He’s got a Michael J. Fox charm about him, and uses it to great effect in his most recent string of blockbusters: Transformers, Disturbia, Indiana Jones & The Kingdom of the Crystal Skull and now Eagle Eye. After playing a Stewart favourite, he’s immediately taken to the ‘man-on-the-run’ antics in a Hitchcock-Stewart connection with D.J. Caruso. LeBeouf is supported by Michelle Monaghan, who picks up the slack with a convincing turn as a desperate mother. Billy-Bob Thornton takes another bite with his government agent role in the groove of Tommy Lee-Jones in The Fugitive. The cast make a valiant effort in realising this ludicrous film.

Eagle Eye falls into the George Orwell 1984 category. The watchful eye of Big Brother frames the U.S. Eagle, creating an evil eye. This theme and the technological anti-crime initiatives almost form a prelude to Minority Report. The network sentinel framework was handled better in Die Hard 4, while the information is power man-on-the-run plot is similar to Enemy of the State. Hitchcock’s The Man Who Knew Too Much forms the basic skeletton for Eagle Eye, starting with a kidnapped child and building up to the concert crescendo. Caruso takes Hitchcock’s film as an influence, and the script isn’t just a remake. Eagle Eye combines all these threads to create something entirely new, which is entertaining in the middle of the action. However, it will be difficult to differentiate from other films a few years from now.

This is a generic political thriller that tips its hat to bigger, better films in the genre. This isn’t going to redefine your expectations, but it isn’t going to damage your film-going sensibilities either. Once you get past a number of near-impossible technological feats, you’ll find an action-packed thrilling with a sense of intrigue that keeps building you up until its heart-stopping conclusion. This is competent film-making, coupled with slick editing, good pacing and carried by classic thriller threads lead by good performances from its principle stars.

The bottom line: Entertaining.

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