Posted in: Disc Reviews by Archive Authors on December 31st, 2008
Shia LaBeouf and Michelle Monaghan are on the run from a series of carefully orchestrated catastrophes. All are ominously foretold by a rather humorless young lady that may or may not be a robot in the new thriller Eagle Eye, a film that purports to be “from Stephen Spielberg.” Spielberg-lovers, don’t get your hopes up. Authorial rights belong more to director D.J. Caruso and a smorgasbord of writers that include John Glenn, Travis Adam Wright, Hillary Seitz, and Dan McDermott. Oh yeah, and a dozen other tent-pole blockbuster action films. Sound like a hodgepodge Hollywood mess? It is.
Caruso’s direction does its best impersonation of Michael Bay’s, whooshing about from one impossible set-piece to another. His snarky heroes immediately hate each other, even before they have a clear-cut reason. We know this from the snippy dialogue peppered throughout, and their forced reluctance to accept the other’s story. The concept, while not altogether weak, feels like a worn-out retread of Enemy of the State. Sure, the technology is better, and much more precise; but it doesn’t feel as innovative, cutting-edge, or thought-provoking as it did in that first effort.
Rosario Dawson, Billy Bob Thornton, and Michael Chiklis, are the powers that be, pursuing LaBeouf and Monaghan to the final disappointing conclusion. Dawson latches on to her role like a pit bull, and is surprisingly authoritative. Unfortunately, Thornton and Chiklis – both incredible actors – are wasted. Their characters equal cardboard cutouts, clearly constructed that way on the page before being forced into existence. There is nothing unique either man can bring to their roles. As for the main performers, LaBeouf plays the exact same character he did in Transformers, the latest Indiana Jones film, and Disturbia. Monaghan is stone-faced, determined, and really the one character with the most at stake. She’s a true co-star.
Eagle Eye will no doubt benefit from the Blu-Ray format with its assorted baggy of eye candy. Until the new wears off of DVD’s patient replacement, the action scenes are good fodder for testing the limits of both picture and sound. On standard media, however, it’s indistinguishable from any other fantastic-looking modern action film – not a single trace of grain anywhere on the frame, strong colors and contrast abound.
Three 5.1 tracks – an English, a French and a Spanish – await your speakers. All sound incredible. The first car chase, when LaBeouf and Monaghan are thrown together, is a fantastic example of how the elements blend for a convincing episode of vehicular mayhem that will piss off your family pet for weeks to come. It’s loud. It’s razor-sharp. And it captures every nuance of what is going on, from the banging and clanging of metal-on-metal to gunshots to the impersonal step-by-step instructions of the unknown caller telling LaBeouf and Monaghan where to turn, what speed to maintain, when to run a traffic light, etc. – all balances perfectly with dialog levels for the whole astounding experience.
Two discs, most of it pretty good stuff if you like the movie. I didn’t. A brief rundown follows:
Deleted Scenes – These were left out for a reason – mostly filler stuff.
Road Trip: On Location with the Cast and Crew – A 3-minute quickie featuring interviews with cast and crew about the frantic nature of the production.
Alternate Ending – Good decision not to include this in the film. No reason for it, no closure, and this film needs it. God forbid we get an Eagle Eye 2!
Asymmetrical Warfare: The Making of Eagle Eye – A 25-minute featurette on the origin and development of the project reveals that Spielberg was completely responsible for the idea. I am not sure if the idea itself is a hack, or just the execution. In the end, it’s perhaps a little of both.
Eagle Eye on Location: Washington, D.C. – This featurette simply shows what it was like to film in our nation’s capital.
Is My Cell Phone Spying On Me? – A 9-minute featurette led off by stars Michelle Monaghan, Michael Chiklis, and Shia LaBeouf, examines the growing intrusiveness of technology and the vulnerability it creates for our lives. On this one, we can agree.
Shall We Play a Game? – Another 9-minute featurette – a quite interesting one – features D.J. Caruso and his mentor, the legendary John Badham (War Games), in a one-on-one trip down memory lane.
A gag reel, photo gallery, and theatrical trailer finish out the bonus materials. One major complaint: no audio commentary.
The package is an impressive standard for huge blockbuster films. Sparkling video, pulsating surround, and a treasure trove of bonus materials, accompany the film, which is, unfortunately, a convoluted, uninspired, bone-headed mess. While its special effects hold up well on the small screen, Eagle Eye is such a tired, formulaic picture – an engineered thrill-ride as cold and lifeless as its supercomputer that is, to borrow from a country song, much too young to feel this damn old.