It’s almost charming that screenwriters believe so strongly in the omniscience and omnipotence of our country’s National Security technology. Like the last Die Hard film, Eagle Eye wants us to believe that the entire world is neatly gridded together, so that chess-like manipulation of us, the faulty carbon-based units, can be easily done by monitoring the power lines and viewing shots from the invasive cameras that surround us. Eagle Eye has to actually throw in a weird scene where television newscasters declare that the government can now monitor all conversations that take place near cell phones. A cow-eyed crowd of Americans listen to this news impassively on a busy subway ride home. (These are not real New Yorkers, you will think, and it’s here you begin to distance yourself from this sometimes irritating movie.)
Saying any more would give away the unsurprising surprise at the heart of this film: but suffice it to say that the plot’s feverish complexities are really absurdly unnecessary once you realize what evil deed is being contemplated-and how simply it could actually be accomplished in the National Security state this film ponders.
Shia LaBeouf has a knack for bruised idealism though, and you honestly believe he could turn from slacker to selfless warrior. Michelle Monaghan, who comes already bruised, it seems, from her worldly-wise role in Gone Baby Gone, is entirely believable too. In fact, for the first third of the flick, when you want to believe this is Hitchcock country, Eagle Eye moves forward with wit and nervy suspense. But then the paranoia becomes a little too high tech and it slithers off the hook of its own political critique. Almost predictably Big Brother becomes Dutch Uncle Sam.
Which is not to say that the movie leaves you with nothing. Walking into the parking structure after seeing this film, I looked around to see how many cameras might be watching. The answer is probably too many. Unfortunately, Eagle Eye makes that problem seem like some crazy thing Shia LaBeouf could shoot his way out of in high tech Hollywood.