EAGLE EYE (a J!-ENT Blu-ray Disc Review)
April 28, 2009 by Dennis Amith
“Non-stop action! You’re definitely in for one hell of a wild ride! ‘EAGLE EYE’ looks absolutely great on Blu-ray and audio quality is just magnificent! Unfortunately, the film puts the action sequences as high priority and not enough attention to the the overall plot.”
TITLE: EAGLE EYE
DURATION: 117 Minutes
BLU-RAY DISC INFORMATION: Languages: English Subtitled , French Dubbed & Subtitled , Portuguese Subtitled , Spanish Dubbed & Subtitled. Audio: 5.1 Dolby Digital , 5.1 Dolby TrueHD
RATED: PG-13 (For Intense Sequences of Action and Violence and for Language)
COMPANY: DreamWorks Pictures
RELEASE DATE: December 28, 2008
Directed by D.J. Caruso
Screenplay by John Glenn, Travis Wright, Hillary Seitz and Dan McDermott
Produced by Patrick Crowley, Alex Kurtzman, Robert ORci
Executive Produced by Steven Spielberg, Edward McDonnel
Co-produced by Pete Chiarelli
Associate Produced by James M. Freitag, Rizelle Mendoza
Music by Brian Tyler
Director of Photography: Dariusz Wolski
Edited by Jim Page
Casting by Jennifer L. Smith and Mary Tricia Wood
Art Direction by Sean Haworth, Kevin Kavanaugh, Naaman Marshall
Set Decoration by Cindy Carr
Costume Design by Marie-Sylvie Deveau
Shia LaBeouf as Jerry Shaw
Michelle Monaghan as Rachel Holloman
Billy Bob Thornton as Agent Thomas Morgan
Rosario Dawson as Zoe Perez
Michael Chiklis as Defense Secretary Callister
Anothony Mackie as Major William Bowman
Ethan Embry as Agent Toby Grant
Anthony Mackie as Major William Bowman
Cameron Boyce as Sam Holloman
Lynn Cohen as Mrs. Wierzbowski
William Sadler as Jerry’s Dad
Deborah Strang as Jerry’s Mom
Carles Carroll as Mr. Miller
Featuring the voice of Julianne Moore as the voice of Ariia
Back in the late 90’s, well-known producer/director Steven Spielberg had an idea of a story about the government using technology as a way to watch people. An idea that is based on Isaac Asimov’s short story “All the Troubles of the World”. With the discussion of how far the government can go in profiling and surveillance will always be debatable but this film does have its relevance with today’s news and thus Spielberg’s idea from the mid-to-late 90’s became a reality in 2008 with the release of “EAGLE EYE”.
The film is directed by D.J. Caruso (“Disturbia”) who was inspired by Robert Lantham’s “War Games” when creating “EAGLE EYE”. The film ended up grossing over $177 million worldwide and had a budget of $80 million. The film reunites Shia LaBeouf with Steven Spielberg (who produced “Transformers” and “Indiana Jones: The Kingdom of the Crystal Skull”) and Caruso (for “Disturbia”) and stars the following talent Michelle Monaghan (“Mission Impossible III”, “The Heartbreak Kid”, “Bourne Supremacy”), Billy Bob Thornton (“Monster’s Ball”, “The Alamo”, “Mr. Woodcock”), Rosario Dawson (“Sin City”, “Seven Pounds”, “Clerks II”) and Michael Chiklis (“Fantastic Four”,”The Shield”, “The Commish”).
The film kicks off with the US armed forces going after a known terrorist in the Middle East. The terrorist is supposedly at a funeral where a lot of civilians happen to be. But because he has been so allusive, the Secretary of Defense (Michael Chiklis) has to make a decision to whether or not to take him down or stand back. Their computer has recommended to abort the mission but the President authorizes the attack and civilians are killed and the wanted terrorist ends up not being him. This leads to a major political backlash with retaliatory repercussions.
The film focuses on two individuals. The first person featured is Jerry Shaw (Shia LaBeouf), a college dropout who is in financial trouble and has his own share of problems. Unfortunately, he finds out that his twin brother Ethan, an Air Force lieutenant has been killed. When Jerry shows up to the funeral, everyone is surprised to see him back. His father shows his disappointment in Jerry but still tries to offer him a thousand dollars to help him out but Jerry who has always hated being compared to his brother can’t stand the way his father treats him and leaves.
One day, Jerry goes to deposit his father’s check but realizes that there is $751,000 in his account and the machine starts going crazy by withdrawing all these bills. When he arrives back to his apartment, his landlord tells him that he has received a lot of packages. When Jerry opens the packages, they are all weapons.
He suddenly gets a phone call from a woman who tells him that he FBI is coming and he better leave. But Jerry thinks its all a mistake and he doesn’t listen to the phone call. Next thing you know, the feds puts him under arrest.
Special Agent Thomas Morgan (Billy Bob Thornton) immediately starts interrogating Jerry and each time Jerry tries to explain the truth that he works for a copy/print shop and doesn’t know how the money got into his account or how the weapons ended up in his apartment. Also, telling Morgan about the call he received with a femal voice telling him to escape. Of course, Morgan doesn’t believe him. Morgan then tries to use his brother Ethan to get him to talk. Suggesting that Ethan may be a terrorist. Of course, Jerry defends his twin brother but the truth is, he hasn’t been in contact with Ethan for years.
Meanwhile, Air Force Office of Special Investigations Special Agent Zoe Perez (Rosario Dawson) makes a visit to the FBI and speaks to Morgan about wanting to do her own interrogation and wanting to speak with Jerry but Morgan doesn’t allow her.
But while both agents squabble, an incoming fax comes in saying that Jerry Shaw has a phone call to give. So, as an FBI agent escorts him to the phone, he receives a call from the same female voice that tried to warn him. This time, she tells him to lay on the floor. Next thing you know, something slams into the building and now giving him directions of where to go, where to run and hide and his destination.
Jerry doesn’t know how he is getting these instructions but somehow the person or people he is talking to on the phone have control of the lights and trains because each time he provokes them or doesn’t listen, the caller tries to show him that this is not some game.
The film then focuses on single mother Rachel Holloman (Michelle Monaghan) who has a son named Sam who is traveling with his band to play the trumpet for a recital for the President of the United States at the Kennedy Center. While out with her friends, she receives a call from a female voice telling her that if she doesn’t do what she says, her son will die. Immediately, she shows him a picture of his son on a screen. When Rachel tries to call the police, the voice disrupts the call and warns her. The caller then tells her to drive a car and then to pick up Jerry.
With Jerry on the run and the Feds and police are after him, both Jerry and Rachel have no idea what is going on and a car chase ensues. But the caller gives instructions to them and thus saving their lives. The two don’t know why this is happening to them but Rachel goes on the defensive blaming Jerry (or his brother) for getting her involved in this mess.
We then learn that the caller has been manipulating people around the country and possibly has a terrorist agenda. The caller has eventually made an explosive in the form of a necklace with its trigger put into the trumpet belong to Sam.
As this mysterious caller directs Jerry and Rachel away from the feds, both Special Agent Morgan and Special Agent Perez know that they are facing a major danger. But Special Agent Perez lets Morgan know that she does not take orders from him. She goes off to visit Ethan’s living quarters and investigates his room and finds information in linking Ethan to the Department of Defense.
By the time she finishes inspecting his room, she is brought to the Department of Defense and meets with the Secretary of Defense (Chiklis) and Major William Bowman (Anthony Mackie) who introduces her to their super computer known as Ariia (Autonomous Reconnaissance Intelligence Integration Analyst). Ariia gathers intelligence worldwide and can control everything and anything electronic.
She learns that Ethan Shaw was a Minuteman, a key person in the military who works on the supercomputer, Ariia. While watching surveillance video of Ethan, they learn that he is sending morse code with his phone. Telling them to go towards the fire extinguisher. Hidden in the area is a smart card and when they look at it, they find out who the identity of Ethan Shaw’s killer. Meanwhile, Secret Agent Morgan and the FBI are close to apprehending the two.
As for Jerry and Rachel, the two have been following the mysterious caller, doing everything the caller has said. The caller tells them that they will know why they are being used and that all will be revealed.
VIDEO & AUDIO:
“EAGLE EYE” definitely showcases awesome picture quality and I wouldn’t expect anything lower from a Steven Spielberg produced film. The film featured in 1080p High Definition with an aspect ratio of 2:35:1 features an enormous amount of action that in both daylight, night, lowlight conditions with no signs of artifacts. Blacks are really nice and deep and I recall no artifacting or low-light noise.
The outdoor scenes are absolutely beautiful but despite overcast but the amount of detail and the number of locations featured in the film definitely is a major plus. You really get something new with each shot. Overall, a beautiful transfer that I can’t complain about. There are a lot of colors in the film and almost an artistic way of utilizing colors courtesy of Director of Photography Dariusz Wolski is known for his work on the “Pirates of the Caribbean” films and “Sweeney Todd” but his experience really gave “EAGLE EYE” a visceral explosion with the amount of colors combined with the action and of course, the audio.
“EAGLE EYE” is featured in Dolby TrueHD 5.1 and this lossless track is just pleasing to listen to. Of course, having watched the car chase scene and hearing how beautiful that film sounds and now watching “EAGLE EYE”, “QoS” definitely haves the one up on “EAGLE EYE” in the sound department but that is not bad by all means. The amount of audio from the various chase scenes to the explosions definitely give your home theater setup a workout.
Overall, there’s not much to complain about the video and audio quality, both are well done!
“EAGLE EYE” contains the following special features (many of them in HD):
- Deleted Scenes – (4:39) A total of three deleted scenes featured below and an alternate ending. The alternate ending was a bit farfetched as Jerry buys Sam “Rock Band” for a birthday gift and the kids start playing and performing the songs and we learn that Ariia has managed to get herself into a video game. I’m glad they didn’t use that alternate ending.
• Ethan’s Wake HD
• Minuteman HD
• Twins HD
• Alternate Ending HD
- Asymmetric Warfare: The Making of Eagle Eye – (25:32) A featurette with interviews with the producers, director, crew, cast and behind-the-scene footage of the making of the film. How Steven Spielberg brought in D.J. Caruso to direct and how Caruso was reunited with LaBoeouf (both worked together on “Disturbia”) and also working with the other talent such as Billy Bob Thornton, Michelle Monaghan and Rosario Dawson. How Caruso was influenced by “Wargames” director.
- Eagle Eye on Location: Washington, D.C. – (5:58) A featurette about shooting the film in Washington D.C., shooting the film at the Library of Congress, the Pentagon and working with actual soldiers from the military.
- Is My Cell Phone Spying on Me? – (9:13) How the government can be spying on people with the use of cell phones. Interviews with the producer, director, the talents including Michal Zimmer (Asst. Professor in the School of Information Studies, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee) and Marc Rotenberg (Exec. Director of the Electronic Privacy Information Center).
- Shall We Play A Game? HD – (9:21) A conversation between “Eagle Eye” Director D.J. Caruso and his mentor John Badham, Director of “War Games”. A very fun conversation to watch as we learn about both films and the differences of technology of the present and the past.
- Road Trip – (3:05) A featurette about the many locations that “Eagle Eye” was filmed. The crew and talent all experienced a major road trip of filming in these many locations.
- Gag Reel – (6:57) A fun, lengthy gag reel of the crew and talent having fun or scenes of them messing up their lines.
- Photo Gallery – Using your remote, you can navigate through still images taken from the film.
- Theatrical Trailer – (2:20) The original theatrical trailer.
“EAGLE EYE” was a film that definitely made me curious because the trailer had this hi-tech fugitive type of vibe going for it.
But I have to admit that the film felt like it was full of non-stop action, many chase scenes and if anything, not much plot. Where Caruso credits John Badham (“War Games”) as his mentor, where a film like “War Games” is effective is that although there are chase scenes, there is quite a bit of character development and an actual plot.
Immediately in “EAGLE EYE”, we are to believe that the government has given so much power to a supercomputer that in “Terminator” like fashion, it rebels, it kills and it feels slighted because the President of the United States went against its recommendation. The last time I saw a supercomputer get so emotional was 1997’s “Universal Soldier: The Return”.
But of course the message being driven was how everything is now being connected through technology and that our privacy is now under the watchful eye of the government.
But when there is potential for plot, Caruso goes Michael Bay and wants to focus on the action-scenes and granted, there are a good number of people who love that. Jean Claude Van Damme or Steven Segal films anyone?
The characters brought into the mix such as Michelle Monaghan as Rachel. Every role she has portrayed, we have cared about her…but in this film, because of its chaotic pacing, there’s no time to really give a damn. Michael Chiklis was not utilized as much as I hoped.
And for Billy Bob Thornton and Rosario Dawson, do these two agents really need to squabble so much that their efforts are being tested by this supercomputer? I did enjoy Thornton and Dawson’s characters but I felt they were not used effectively. Especially Anthony Mackie as Major William Bowman who becomes a hero as he defies the antagonist and you ended up rooting for the guy but he ends up being under utilized and I expected to see him one last time at the end of the film.
And last, Julianne Moore did do a great job supplying the voice of supercomputer Ariia.
But with the overall plot of a supercomputer that has gone on a revenge tirade…to say the least, “EAGLE EYE” is not a film about logic.
What could have been an intellectual thriller, ends up being a film with a lot of destruction, explosions and two main characters who have no idea what they are doing but realize that they could be killed by electronic wires or some form of technology. OK… …even in the middle of the country where there are no signs of technology but electrical wires, this antagonist has the ability to control even that and electrocute them.
So, whether “EAGLE EYE” is trying to poke fun about the Patriot Act or being a film that wants people to consider the privacy issues going on today in the world, “EAGLE EYE” had potential but somehow the action scenes over dominates the film. With what plot does happen, it just seems farfetched.
Did I dislike the film or the Blu-ray. Actually, no I didn’t. I was entertained by the action scenes and when you know that logic can be thrown out the door, you just enjoy the film for what it is and hope that the screenplay gets even more creative or exciting.
On the Blu-ray end, the action scenes look great and the audio quality is magnificent but along with great picture quality and great audio quality, you would hope to get a great story behind that. I did enjoy the special features especially the interview between “EAGLE EYE” Director Caruso and “War Games” Director John Badham was quite interesting. Especially when Caruso throws in “Saturday Night Fever” (which Badham also directed) as another film of inspiration. But where Caruso missed the boat is that with “War Games”, you cared about the characters. There was a good amount of character development… But with “EAGLE EYE”, action is put as priority over storytelling.
Overall, “EAGLE EYE” was an entertaining thriller. I was not bored nor did I want to shut the film off. There are really cool action sequences in the film and that is the strong point of the film.
The Blu-ray does feature great picture and audio quality and several special features to keep one busy. But overall, I can’t help but feel that the potential for something greater was missed.
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