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Eagle Eye
Hollywood thriller without a political message
Eagle Eye
Shia LaBeouf Stars in "Eagle Eye."
OPENING WEEKEND: $40,000,000
DOMESTIC TOTAL: $130,000,000
OTHER PREVIEWS: Alatriste (7/10)
  This Film is NOT a Future Release.
  The Following Preview has been Archived.

April 14th, 2008: A young slacker and a single mom get tangled up in a terrorist cell plotting a political assassination.

What to Expect: Has Hollywood finally learned its lesson? After releasing a string of failed political thrillers that demonized the American government like Lions for Lambs, Rendition and most recently Stop Loss, DreamWorks decided to actually do its job and simply entertain instead of trying to push some sort of political agenda. To accomplish the modest goal of entertaining, they created Eagle Eye, which features a very fast paced, easy to follow plot, and an extremely likeable, non-controversial cast. But most importantly, no matter how hard you look, you will not find any kind of political message. The movie is just a good old fashioned mindless Hollywood romp and DreamWorks will be rewarded hardily for their lack of effort. It will be entertaining and at the end of the day we go to the movies to be entertained, not preached to.

Article continues below

So how non-offensive is this movie going to be, you ask? Well, the idea for it came from none other than Steven Spielberg, who has never offended anyone. Spielberg wanted to make a movie about a young slacker and a single mother who are framed as terrorists and must avoid capture while trying to unravel the conspiracy. DreamWorks picked up the project in hopes of having Spielberg as the director as well as the producer. Spielberg hired a series of writers to transform his idea into a screenplay with the first draft being written by Dan McDermott, whose biggest claim to fame so far is fathering Maria Bello's child. After he was done, two more inexperienced writers, John Glenn and Travis Wright, came in to do the first set of revisions. After all the re-writes, Spielberg was still not happy with the results, so he brought in the more experienced team of Alex Kurtzman and Roberto Orci. It is really hit and miss with these guys since they are responsible for huge hits like Transformers and Mission Impossible III but also wrote huge flops like The Island and The Legend of Zorro. Spielberg was happy with this last revision, but just to make sure, Paramount (DreamWork's parent company) had their favorite producer/director JJ Abrams tweak the script. Finally, to make sure that the film was not too testosterone packed, Hilary Seitz (Insomnia) was brought in give the script a female perspective. After all the revisions, the story became extremely unoriginal, non-offensive and full of car chases and action.

It told the story of slacker, Jerry, and single mom, Rachel. Jerry is in his late 20's and lives in the shadow of his overachieving twin brother. That all changes one day when his brother mysteriously dies and Jerry is framed as a terrorist. Jerry goes to the coffee shop to think of his next move when he gets a mysterious call from a woman named Aria, who tells him that he must get in the car parked outside if he wants to clear his name. The car is being driven by Rachel: a single mother whose young son has been kidnapped by Aria. These two seemingly innocent people are thrust in the middle of a conspiracy but cannot go to the police since the FBI believes that both are dangerous terrorists. The FBI dispatches a team lead by agents, Morgan and his female partner (Hollywood loves to have the female FBI agent since Silence of the Lambs), to track down Jerry. But unlike other modern thrillers, the FBI agents are not actually the "bad guys," they are just going off false information provided by Aria. Jerry and Rachel are forced to go on a complex scavenger hunt around Chicago, doing Aria's bidding. Aria has been able to hack into seemingly every network and is able to use her technological superiority to make sure the FBI is close enough to keep Jerry and Rachel running, but never capture them. In one instance, Aria even remotely takes control of a crane to stop the police. Well, if you cannot guess the big twist in this movie then here it is:


Aria is actually a super computer that is fed with human error, so it takes matters into its own hands. How unoriginal is that? Maybe they should have named the computer Hal (2001: a Space Odyssey) or perhaps Jerry can prove to Aria that she cannot win by repeatedly simulating a game of tic-tac-toe (WarGames).


Obviously at the end of the movie, Jerry and Rachel are not only able to prove their innocence and get Rachel's son back, but they are also instrumental in unraveling Aria's plan. Then, since this is one of those no brainer movies, Jerry and Rachel would get together and Rachel would get a husband and her son would finally have a father. How these characters would find the time to romance each other is another question, because throughout there is really no downtime to get to know each other. However, these are just details, nothing more, since with Spielberg directing it would all be ok.

When it was time to start production for the movie, Spielberg chose to work on a little movie called Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, so he entrusted directing Eagle Eye to one of his favorite directors, DJ Caruso. Caruso first got his start directing a Spielberg-produced TV show called "High Incident." The show went off the air after only two seasons, but the two men remained friends. Caruso was even a guest judge on Spielberg's reality show "On the Lot." DreamWorks felt the project was in good hands, after Caruso's "Rear Window" remake, entitled "Disturbia," which pulled in a surprising $118 million at the box office. Now, all the movie needed was a likeable cast to compliment the non-offensive screenplay.

Caruso first pitched the script to his and Spielberg's favorite actor, Shia LaBeouf, whose casting would result in a re-teaming for the three men, after "Disturbia." At this point, LaBeouf just finished Transformers and was starting work on Indiana Jones, both movies produced by Spielberg. Everyone felt that Labeouf would be perfect for the part since the part in Eye is extremely similar to his character in Transformers: every day guy gets involved struggle, with a hot girl at his side. He also met the criteria of being completely inoffensive to anyone. LaBeouf, who is eager to please Spielberg and to reunite with Caruso, quickly agreed to star in the new movie. Spielberg gladly worked out the filming schedule to allow the young actor to be able to do both Indiana Jones and Eye.

Opposite LaBeouf, Caruso cast Michelle Monaghan as Rachel. Monaghan, with her disarming smile and easy going attitude, was the perfect choice based on the criteria. Next came the casting of the FBI team that is chasing the duo. The part of Morgan was written with Billy Bob Thornton in mind, to provide comic relief. It was no surprise to anyone that he agreed to do it since he will do just about anything for a paycheck these days. The part of his partner then went to Rosario Dawson, who at the time was signed on to star in Kevin Smith's "Zack and Miri Make a Porno," which was written with her in mind, but she decided to diss her Clerks II director and take the bigger movie. Finally the man in charge of the entire operation to apprehend the two fugitives is the Secretary of Defense, being played by Michael Chiklis (Fantastic Four). This part is completely out of character for the actor, since he is best known for playing the tough guy cop on "The Shield," instead of the behind the desk bureaucrat he will be in Eagle Eye. What's more, is that his casting actually occurred by complete accident. Caruso first met Chiklis when he guest directed an episode of "The Shield." Then, one day when Caruso was out playing basketball with his kids, they got their hands on his phone and started dialing the numbers in his address book, including Chiklis'. Chiklis called back Caruso afterwards and the two started talking, resulting in Caruso offering him the part. With that casting, the super likeable, uncontroversial cast was complete and the movie was ready to start shooting.

Caruso was actually challenged with Eagle Eye since he had never done an action movie of this caliber before. His biggest project before Eye was Disturbia, which really involved an injured kid sitting in his room, watching his neighbor. In contrast, the director had to build huge sets and manage a large star studded cast. Fortunately, he got a lot of assistance from an unlikely source: The US government. The people involved were so excited that someone was finally making a movie that did not demonize them that they sent defense department advisors to help in the filming and even allowed the movie to build an exact replica of the Pentagon. So when you watch the movie, the procedures that are followed are actually real Defense Department procedures and all of the offices featured are exact replicas. Spielberg also helped out a lot with the day to day. The producer could not be on set most of the time since he was busy with Indiana Jones, but he did keep tabs on the progress through his publicist and assistants who served as his eyes and ears on set. With all this help and his easy-to-work-with, experienced cast, Caruso was able to film the movie very quickly without any major problems, allowing LaBeouf to wrap and move on to film Indiana Jones.

In Conclusion: As you can see, this is one of those dumb, cliché chase thrillers where the good guys are good and the bad guys are bad with no gray area. Five years ago I would have ripped this film up for being too stupid and predictable, but in today's turbulent political environment, this kind of movie actually becomes a refreshing change from the norm. Steven Spielberg, who is famous for doing happy movies like this, realized the same thing. This is why he created an extremely simple and inoffensive story and filmed the movie with charming and uncontroversial actors. His efforts should be richly rewarded, while other more original and complicated thrillers play to half empty theaters, Eagle Eye will open to packed ones. It appeals to a younger audience because it stars LaBeouf, but should also get a good amount of older movie-goers who just want to be entertained.

Similar Titles: Three Days of the Condor, Transformers, Disturbia
September 26th, 2008 (wide)
December 28th, 2008 (DVD)


D.J. Caruso

Shia LaBeouf, Michelle Monaghan, Rosario Dawson, Billy Bob Thornton, Michael Chiklis, Anthony Azizi, Anthony Mackie, Lynn Cohen

Total: 78 vote(s).


Click here to view site

Rated PG-13 for intense sequences of action and violence, and for language.

118 min




Eagle Eye at Trailer Addict

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