When two people walk away from a high-speed car crash with nary a scratch on them, you know you're watching an action movie. When an innocent, ordinary citizen is suddenly thrust into the middle of a national security crisis, you know you're watching a paranoid conspiracy thriller. When both these conditions have been met, nothing makes much sense, and things go "boom!" every 8-10 minutes, you know you're watching Eagle Eye.
Re-teaming star Shia LaBeouf and director D.J. Caruso from last year's immensely popular, faux-Hitchcockian Disturbia, Eagle Eye, which had a special screening at Fantastic Fest with Caruso in attendance, might welcome comparisons to The Man Who Knew Too Much or The Wrong Man but is actually closer in spirit to The Net, Irwin Winkler's 1995 attempt to wrestle with identity theft and other perils of the information age. Like that movie, Eagle Eye exploits the all too common fear of technology, but shoves the premise way past common sense, positing a world in which an anonymous voice on a cell phone holds the power of life and death over complete strangers.
With this role, LaBeouf ascends definitively into the Hollywood firmament of stars. While this may be good news for his legion of young fans and his accountant, it's bad news for the moral possibilities of the character he plays. Looking like Seth Rogen's younger brother with a scruffy beard and threadbare clothes, Jerry Shaw is a prodigal son living on the cheap in Chicago. He's devastated when he learns that his twin brother has been killed in an accident, but reconciliation with his stern father (William Sadler) is impossible.