- Street Date:
- December 28th, 2008
- Reviewed by:
- Peter Bracke
- Review Date: 1
- January 5th, 2009
- Movie Release Year:
- Paramount Home Entertainment
- 117 Minutes
- MPAA Rating:
- Rated PG-13
- Release Country
- United States
The Movie Itself: Our Reviewer's Take
In 2007, director DJ Caruso and actor Shia LeBeouf teamed up for the film 'Disturbia.' Essentially 'Rear Window'-lite for the teen set, it was nevertheless a big box office hit despite cries of being utterly derivative dross by critics (and the target of a well-publicized lawsuit by the estate of the writer of the original short story upon which 'Rear Window' was based, who are claiming plagiarism). Now, only a little more than a year later, Caruso and LeBeouf have teamed up again for 'Eagle Eye,' which is basically 'North by Northwest'-lite. I'm sure it's only a matter of minutes before the Hitchcock estate sues.
Little can be revealed of 'Eagle Eye's plot at risk of spoiling the film's many twists and turns. So let's just say this is another "big brother is watching you" paranoia piece, with LeBeouf starring as Jerry Shaw, a (seemingly) innocent pawn caught up in an intricate political puzzle. Thrown together with the (seemingly) innocent Rachel Hollomon (Michelle Monaghan), they are plunged into a race against time in Chicago, guided only by a HAL-like female voice that instructs them where to go and what to do next. As the complications and (seemingly) limitless damages pile up, hot on Jerry and Rachel's trail is FBI agent Thomas Morgan (Billy Bob Thornton), who is initially determined to stop the pair until even he realizes all may not be what it seems...
It's rather amazing that it took four screenwriters (John Glenn, Hillary Seitz, Travis Adam Wright, and Dan McDermott) to concoct 'Eagle Eye,' as it is so utterly derivative. There are more than just a few echoes of not only 'North by Northwest,' but also 'The Game' and just about every paranoia thriller of the '70s. Slap a thick layer of 'Enemy of the State'-like visual gloss on the proceedings, and you have the best over-torqued thriller that Tony Scott never made.
The problem with a film like 'Eagle Eye' is that it is wholly ridiculous. There are so many contrivances, unbelievable coincidences and credibility gaps that this is cinematic Swiss cheese. Having seen 'Eagle Eye' once in the theater and now again on home video, I can also safely say that the film does not hold up to scrutiny, and going back over it only reveals its narrative gaps more fully. That takes much of the fun away, especially since Jerry and Rachel cause so much noise and destruction as they scramble around the Windy City that one has to question the intelligence of the puppetmasters behind the whole plot, who are second only to little Damien in 'The Omen' movies in attracting attention to themselves.
Yet, 'Eagle Eye' is still kinda enjoyable simply as a thrill ride. The film's greatest asset is that we know no more or no less than Jerry and Rachel, so at least emotionally, we are on their side. It's again only in retrospect that the whole house of cards collapses under the weight of illogic, so during the film's overlong 117 minutes, we are at least engaged. The film is also slickly (if anonymously) directed by Caruso, and both LeBeouf and Monaghan flesh out their cardboard characters nicely. Interestingly, Steven Spielberg was once considering directing 'Eagle Eye' (he's now credited as an executive producer), and one wonders what he might have done with the material. But a weak script is a weak script, and as is, 'Eagle Eye' is a fairly riveting thriller that ultimately turns out to be less than the sum of its parts. This is a perfectly acceptable, time-waster of a thriller.
The Video: Sizing Up the Picture
Paramount offers a 1080p/AVC MPEG-4 encode (2.39:1) for 'Eagle Eye.' It's a razor-sharp and very good-looking transfer.
'Eagle Eye' is quite a stylized film, which if hardly "natural," certainly looks dazzling. Colors are intentionally oversaturated at times but the transfer holds tight, with the many deep blues never bleeding or hampering detail. Depth is generally excellent, with only a sharp black crush sometimes obscuring the finest of textures. Contrast runs hot, but it hews to the visual style of the film and again doesn't usually lessen detail. Fleshtones are not usually "accurate," but surprisingly, the actors still look like people and not digitized robots. Finally, the encode is sharp as a tack, and there are no artifacts that I could detect. A very fine presentation.
The Audio: Rating the Sound
'Eagle Eye' gets the Dolby TrueHD 5.1 Surround treatment (48kHz/24-bit), and this is a quite aggressive and always-immersive soundtrack.
I was impressed by the depth and heft of the rear soundfield. Even minor ambiance is well-attenuated and creatively dispersed. Imaging is excellent, and I could rarely localize sounds. Dynamic range is very forceful, with terrific spaciousness and quite tight low bass. This mix constantly chugs along, and seems to delight in ramping up to the highs then pounding down to the lows -- it's quite fun. Dialogue is well balanced throughout, and I had no intelligibility problems. Only score integration is a bit flat -- it's often lost in the mix -- but then I can't even remember the music five minutes after watching the movie anyway. As with the video, the audio here is very good.
The Supplements: Digging Into the Good Stuff
The extras on 'Eagle Eye' are vapid and glossy, and there really isn't all that much here aside from promo featurettes. At least the video materials are in full 1080i video, and subtitle options are the same as the main feature.
- Featurette: "Asymmetrical Warfare: Making of Eagle Eye" (HD, 26 minutes) - Your standard promo EPK, with director DJ Caruso, star Shia LaBeouf, and various cast and crew babbling on about how timely the film is and contextual its theme. (Yes, this is that kind of featurette.) It's polished and fast-moving, however, with a decent amount of info mixed in with the behind-the-scenes stuff and plot recap. However, like some of the other featurettes, there are spoilers, so you might want to skip this if you haven't yet watched the film.
- Additional Featurettes (HD, 28 minutes) - Four more shorter pieces are included.
First, "Eagle Eye: On Location" runs nearly 6 minutes, and takes a look at the film's Washington DC location shoot.
"Is My Cell Phone Spying on Me?" is a fairly interesting 9 minutes featuring the filmmakers discussing the realities of modern surveillance and monitoring, as well as their personal thoughts on the erosion of our personal privacy.
Next, "Shall We Play a Game?" runs 9 minutes, and is basically a one-on-one chat with Caruso and his mentor, filmmaker John Badham. They go into great detail on the more technical aspects of the film, though again there are ton of spoilers so wait until after you've seen the film to watch this one.
Finally, "Road Trip: On Location" is a weird 3 minute recap of sorts of the featurettes. Superfluous.
- Gag Reel (HD, 7 minutes) - Quite lengthy for a gag reel at 7 minutes, this is rather funny, but soon grows tiresome. (Really, now, aren't people sick of watching actors flub their lines?)
- Deleted Scenes/Alternate Ending (HD, 7 minutes) - The three deleted scenes don't add up to very much, save for filler. I can't say much about this alternate climax that won't ruin the film, other than it more obviously sets up a sequel. I preferred the theatrical cut version.
- Still Gallery (HD) - Rounding out the main extras are about three dozen publicity and behind-the-scenes stills.
- Theatrical Trailer (HD) - Finally, we have the film's theatrical trailer, again in full HD.
'Eagle Eye' is an efficient if rather unbelievable thriller, but I remained entertained in a guilty pleasure sorta way, so if you check your brain at the door you'll probably have fun. This Blu-ray is no contest, however, with excellent video and audio and a serviceable supplemental package. 'Eagle Eye' is worth a rental, and an easy recommend if you're already a fan of the film.
- BD-50 Dual-Layer Disc
- 1080p/AVC MPEG-4
- English Dolby TrueHD 5.1 Surround (48kHz/24-bit)
- French Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (640kbps)
- Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (640kbps)
- English SDH
- French Subtitles
- Spanish Subtitles
- Portuguese Subtitles
- Alternate Ending
- Gag Reel
- Theatrical Trailer
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