Earlier this year, I watched (and reviewed) WarGames: The Dead Code, a techno-thriller in which a computer is able to track the movements of anyone it chooses simply by tapping into cell phones and closed-circuit television cameras. It could also read lips and commit murder at will. 2008's Eagle Eye features a similar plot device: a sentient computer that can track people through technology and attempt to kill them. Unlike WarGames: The Dead Code, however, Eagle Eye tells a much better story and features a better cast.
Eagle Eye (2008)
Starring: Shia LeBeouf, Michelle Monaghan, and Billy Bob Thornton
Jerry Shaw (Shia LaBeouf) is an underachieving twenty-year-old who works for a copy store in Chicago. One day, he comes home from work and finds his landlady, who is usually pestering him for the rent, all excited about the large number of boxes that have been delivered to his apartment. Jerry opens his door to find his place packed from wall-to-wall with explosive devices, aircraft manuals, and high-tech detonators. In other words, a do-it-yourself terrorism kit. Before he can comprehend what he's received, Jerry's cell phone rings and a cool, calm female voice tells him that he's been "activated" and that the FBI will be showing up in 30 seconds.
Across town, single mom Rachel Holloman (Michelle Monaghan) receives a similar phone call. She's told that her son -- who is traveling by train to Washington, D.C. -- will be killed unless she takes the black Porsche Cayenne that's parked across the street to a certain address. That address happens to be the exact location where Jerry shows up after he escapes from FBI custody with the assistance of various remotely controlled electronic devices. Together, the two of them will be commanded by the voice to perform illegal tasks while they simultaneously try to figure out who's behind this cruel game.
Meanwhile, Jerry and Rachel's antics have attracted the attention of FBI Agent Tom Morgan (Billy Bob Thornton) and Air Force Special Investigator Zoe Perez (Rosario Dawson), who each have different theories about what's really going on.
Like the aforementioned WarGames: The Dead Code as well as Enemy of the State and plenty of other movies featuring technology as a focal point, Eagle Eye depicts computers doing things that are not only improbable, but impossible as well. A movie that asks me to believe a closed circuit TV camera that is not connected to any broadcast equipment or computer network can be accessed remotely by a high-powered computer tests my patience. But, thanks to the likability of its cast, a relatively easy-to-follow plot, and its interesting initial setup, I liked Eagle Eye a lot more than logic might otherwise dictate.
Shia LeBeouf takes on his first true leading man role and does a fair job as Jerry, the slacker. His counterpart, Michelle Monaghan, reminds me of a young Marcia Gay Harden visually. Neither actor is required to do much character development, but I have read that 80% of the stunts in the movie were actually performed by LeBeouf and Monaghan. The action sequences are effective but are as equally improbable as the computer and technology aspects of the movie.
From my relatively jaded perspective, Eagle Eye is the type of forgettable, PG13 action movie that is tailor-made for a rental when bigger and better movies aren't available. It's by no means a good movie but it's inoffensive at worst and was assembled with some semblance of quality by director D. J. Caruso (Disturbia.) It does nothing original but does it as well as one could expect from a film containing computers that can listen to conversations by reading the vibrations off of a cup of coffee.
Trivia: Shia LaBeouf stated that during filming an FBI Agent told him and the cast that 1 in every 5 phone calls someone makes is recorded. To prove this, the agent had him listen to a phone call he made 2 years prior to filming. (Source: The Internet Movie Database)