More noise than signal

Eagle Eye

This review has been ‘repurposed’ from my other site, theOneliner.com

I have to wonder what it is about computer systems that’s so inherently dull that filmmakers need to continually invent wonderful new and entirely impractical systems purely so that they can attempt to control mankind, embodying them in the least practical physical system possible. If computers are that boring, would it perhaps not be better to stop putting them in films rather than wildly bullshitting?

The case in point that brings the tirade to mind is Eagle Eye. While it’s been so overwhelmingly betrailered that I can’t believe you need a recap, the gist of it runs thus: underachieving Jerry Shaw (Shia LaBeouf) returns home one day to find his room full of comically labelled terrorist accessories and then gets a phone call telling him to run before the FBI come knocking, and eventually following these instructions from a seemingly omniscient source leads him and fellow baffled instruction follower Rachel Holloman (Michelle Monaghan) down and increasingly silly path of action set-pieces while they and, separately, Federal Agents Thomas Morgan (Billy Bob Thornton) and Zoe Perez (Rosario Dawson) try and work out what in the name of blue blazes is going on and stopping them, or it, or someone, or something.

The trailer would seem to hint that exactly who is pulling the strings of Jerry and Rachel should be a source of great mystery, intrigue and diverse alarums. Quite why, then, we are introduced to a brand new government created advanced artificial intelligence system with hooks and controls into every electronic gizmo, somehow, on the face of the planet during the prologue is something of a mystery. We have, after all, seen enough Terminator films by this point to know how that’s going to play out.

Listening to some interviews with one of the screenwriters, he’s wittering on about being influenced by North By Northwest, Saboteur, The Third Man and so forth, ideas to which I struggle not laugh at.

Clearly the influences here, certainly for your central bad guy, are Hal 9000, the computer system from Portal and a complete misunderstanding of computer technology. This is perhaps unfair, after all a script fresh from being written and what the director finally shoots are often filtered through several layers of bullshit, but any similarity to Hitchcock or similar is entirely imaginary. Perhaps the high concept, slugline idea of the schemes central to the story verges on satire, but the execution is pure blockbuster trash.

Indeed, the film does come across as something of a rehash of Terminator 3 more often than not, with elements perhaps of The Fugitive, and a massive dose of silly. This is the sort of cybercrime plot that makes Die Hard 4.0 seem grounded and sensible. However, this is not to say that it’s entirely unenjoyable.

For the most part, despite being as mad as a bag of spiders, Eagle Eye is quite good fun, almost in spite of itself. Remote control cranes? However, the acting is uniformly above par for this sort of thing, and the effects work is loud, impressive and convincing. It is pure bubblegum, blockbustery, shock and awe style film that’s really of no importance in the grand scheme of things, but it’s an interesting diversion from reality for a couple of hours.

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