What happens when you have a good idea from a great mind but pass it on to less talented hands? You get Eagle Eye.
Eagle Eye – reportedly based on an idea by Steven Spielberg that he smartly handed off for someone else to direct – is the story of a black-sheep young man coping with the death of his twin brother. Jerry, played by Shia LaBeouf, comes home to his apartment filled with bomb making material and receives a phone call from an all-knowing-anonymous woman telling him the FBI are about to bust through his window. Of course, Jerry is in disbelief and quite suddenly the FBI does in fact break this his window.
In another story, we're introduced to Rachel, played by Michelle Monaghan. Rachel is a single mom who says goodbye to her son, Sam, for the weekend while he travels with his grade school band to perform in Washington D.C. (I'm sure THAT destination won't be important later.) Soon after Rachel has said goodbye to her son, she gets a phone call from the same mysterious woman who had called Jerry. The woman threatens to derail Rachel's son's train if she doesn't do what she says.
Following the other classic Hollywood cliches, our main characters meet and are thrust into a world controlled by the mysterious woman as they are jointly chased by the FBI, Air Force and the rest of the government agencies. As you would guess, everything is not as it seems and something larger and more sinster is going on. Eagle Eye has what should be a great supporting cast that includes Rosario Dawson, Billy Bob Thorton and Michael Chiklis. However, outside of Thorton, no character is given the effort or screentime to make the audience truly care about them.
Directed by D.J. Caruso, the film tries utilizing techniques in its actions scenes that made the Bourne Ultimatum so successful and groundbreaking – amazing fights, car chases and suspenseful story telling without the use of a steadicam as well as having the audience always one step behind the story along with Jerry and Rachel.
Eagle Eye does work on some levels. It's social commentary about governmental spying and control are stories that have been told dozens of times already, but have some timeliness with this administration. Its not a futuristic story (it takes place in 2009 as indicated by time stamps in surveilance cameras), but it does steal from futuristic movies – especially 2001: A Space Odyssey. (An obvious reference about two-thirds through the movie)
The short of it is – without revealing the twist, which any audience member sees coming from a mile away – that Eagle Eye just doesn't work. Yes it has suspense and things blowing up, but its a story with social and political commentary that's could be so poignant but loses its grasp quickly and settles on your basic cliche story elements in movies we've all seen before.