In the last two years, we've seen the rise of the man and myth known as Shia LaBeouf. Disturbia was a surprising box office hit in April 2007, then the young actor lent his voice to a prominent role in the animated film Surf's Up. Transformers followed along with a truckload of money. He then co-starred in the fourth Indiana Jones movie. With George Lucas all but saying that LaBeouf is the next Indy, he reteamed with Caruso to star in Eagle Eye as another means of determining his box office clout
Written by John Glenn (not the astronaut) and Travis Wright, you've probably seen the trailer more than a few times. If you haven't, LaBeouf plays Jerry, a guy who dropped out of college at Stanford and comes home to Chicago, where he lives in a dingy apartment and works at a Kinko's-esque place called the Copy Cabana. He comes home one day and finds a cache of terrorist supplies in his home, including bomb-making devices and military equipment. He receives a call on his cell phone from a mysterious female voice, advising him that the FBI will be arresting him in 30 seconds if he doesn't flee from the home. He is stunned by this news, and the Feds arrest him. When he is interrogated, he receives another call from the same voice, suggesting that he duck. At that point, a crane crashes through the high-rise building, and the voice on the phone urges Jerry to jump. He does, and the chase begins. Admittedly, it's one of the more enticing and curious trailers I'd seen in awhile, and the ordinary man in extraordinary circumstances is rather Hitchcock-ian.
As the film moves along, Jerry eventually finds Rachel (Michelle Monaghan, Gone Baby Gone). Rachel is receiving similar phone calls from the same voice, and has to act of these commands to save her son. And hot on Jerry's heels is Agent Morgan (Billy Bob Thornton, Armageddon), who wants to stop this potential terrorist threat before it gets out of control. Toss in Rosario Dawson (Clerks II) as a military investigator and Michael Chiklis (The Shield) as the Secretary of Defense, and you've got the makings of a decent cast.
What makes Eagle Eye especially frustrating is that that's about as good as it gets. The story spins wildly out of control from the moment we find out the origin of the mysterious voice on Jerry and Rachel's phones. The source of these strange cryptic commands starts to do some seriously implausible things, and its motivation is even more unbelievable. From there, let me translate the last 20 minutes for you: "blah blah, action sequence, blah blah, Patriot Act wrong, blah blah, save the country, blah blah, fight Big Brother." By the time Chiklis' not-so-subtle monologue on current events ends the film, I was less concerned with the ending of the film and more concerned with mopping up after the hearts that bled all over my family room. It's a shame too; because as silly as the initial premise of Eagle Eye might have been, I was willing to go along with it. A lot of other people were, as the film's $100 million domestic box office take appears to have proved.
If there was something that Eagle Eye has going for it, many of the film's stunt sequences are shot with very little CG work. Caruso keeps the action moving and maintains a suspenseful environment throughout, even as the story gets more and more convoluted. I see his future in action films becoming brighter, I just hope the stories in them are better than the one here.
Eagle Eye comes to Blu-ray in a 2.35:1 aspect ratio with the AVC MPEG-4, and the results are sharp. Shot in handheld camera in some sequences, stationary shots in others, and some cuts to surveillance cameras to maintain the "eagle eye" perspective. It's all replicated accurately without any saturation. Blacks are solid as a rock, and image detail is consistent through much of the feature. In the late stages of the film when Jerry and Rachel are battling "the voice," there appears to be some image noise, which is a slight distraction. Otherwise, Eagle Eye looks excellent in high definition.
The Dolby TrueHD 5.1 lossless track is quite the little sonic surprise. Starting off from the crane sequence, things continue with a chase on the elevated trains, and a third act chase sequence in a tunnel all sound top notch. Surround activity is prominent with directional effects well-placed in the rear speakers, and panning is well-balanced with a subwoofer presence throughout almost all of the film. Dialogue occasionally wavers (the scene where Jerry and Rachel in the bus is one instance), but from the point of view of an action film, Eagle Eye is immersive and DreamWorks delivers another excellent sonic experience for the viewer.
The extras are slightly decent, presumably designed to serve as an adequate replacement for a commentary track. The extras are also in high definition, which is nice to see. Four deleted scenes (4:39) are the first extra here, but they're really three scenes and an alternate ending, one that seems to be more clever than it is. "Asymmetrical Warfare" (25:32) is a fancy way of saying making-of featurette, with Caruso discussing what it's like to work with LaBeouf and vice versa, along with how long the story's been kicking around. Caruso shares his two cents on the supporting cast, and there are various looks at the stunts with split screen footage of on-set film and finished product. This piece is slightly ironic because LaBeouf talks about how Caruso avoids "trailer moments" in a film, yet the best part of the film is the trailer.
From there, "Eagle Eye on Location" (5:58) covers the time the crew spent in Washington, D.C. at the Library of Congress and shows off that location. "Is My Cell Phone Spying On Me?" (9:14) is your usual tripe about Big Brother and electronic surveillance, while "Shall We Play A Game?" (9:22) features a discussion with Caruso and John Badham (WarGames), on which Caruso served as second unit director, as they talk about the challenges in shooting this film and some of Badham's work. It's a cool inclusion, one I wouldn't have expected. "Road Trip" (3:05) focuses on the traveling nature of the production with a lot of recycled interview footage. A hilarious gag reel (7:00) is next, featuring the awesome ad-libbing of Thornton, and the trailer (2:35) comes after that. A photo gallery completes the disc.
As an action film, Eagle Eye is a tense, wild ride for a man who wants to regain his life. LaBeouf portrays this part of things very well, and you can't help but be pulled into the story. However, it's when it steps out of your normal action film and starts to deliver its message that I was lost and felt like the last 90 minutes had come and gone with nothing to show for it. I wouldn't seriously consider adding this to your library unless you really liked the film. As it stands, Eagle Eye's cast turns in solid performances, and technically it's excellent, so definitely give it a spin on your Blu-ray player if you're starving for an action movie.