Eagle Eye: 2-Disc Special Edition
Directed by D.J. Caruso
Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1 anamorphic
Running Time: 117 minutes
Audio: Dolby Digital 5.1 English, French, Spanish
Subtitles: English, French, Spanish
MSRP: $ 34.99
Release Date: December 28, 2008
Review Date: December 10, 2008
The ultimate “Big Brother Is Watching” actioner, D.J. Caruso’s Eagle Eye is a cinematic thrill ride that will leave you breathless. Conspiracy theorists will have a field day poking holes in some of the lapses in logic of the film’s gripping scenario, but those wanting an enjoyable popcorn thriller will have nothing much to complain about. This is edge-of-your-seat stuff that doesn’t talk down to its audience as long as they‘re willing to play along with the electronic contrivances.
Two seemingly unrelated people, Jerry Shaw (Shia LaBeouf) and Rachel Hollomon (Michelle Monaghan), become pawns in an elaborate political scheme being pushed and pulled through frantic Chicago and Washington locations by an emotionless female voice who seems able to control electronic devices at will and who apparently has a mission for them they’re completely in the dark about. On their trail attempting to block whatever murky conspiratorial undertows are at play is FBI agent Thomas Morgan (Billy Bob Thornton), a stubborn, relentless investigator who knows something’s wrong but seems constantly thwarted in his efforts to stop the two innocents.
It’s to the credit of screenwriters John Glenn, Travis Adam Wright, Hillary Seitz, and Dan McDermott that the audience isn’t clued in on what’s actually happening any more than Jerry and Rachel are at the beginning thus pulling the viewer along with them on their breakneck but seemingly pointless chases and missions all guided by an omniscient presence who has all the answers but is keeping them deliberately obscured. Director Caruso gets in close to show us the confusion and consternation on their faces as they wrestle with whether to obey or cut and run. He also directs the film’s three profoundly dramatic and electrifying action sequences (a madcap car chase, a tensely fun frolic on the intricate network of luggage belts in a busy airport, and the climactic final showdown in one of our nation’s most famous national monuments) with every bit of the precision and moxie that Steven Spielberg might have brought to the project. (Spielberg contributed the original idea for the film and serves as the film’s executive producer.) The thriller has excitement and heart in equal measure, and the director knows when to quiet things down to let emotions come to the surface. True, the script does have some logic loopholes that are wide enough to demand the audience suspend its disbelief, and the ending is perhaps too pat and too eager for audience acceptance. Still, for a crowd pleasing action picture, one expects commercial filmmakers to do this kind of thing.
Shia LaBeouf is working for a second time with director D. J. Caruso on a thriller after their successful pairing in Disturbia. LaBeouf tackles his grown-up role with an emotional tenacity that draws in the audience and makes the film work. Michelle Monaghan is equally tenacious as the single mom risking all to insure her son’s safety. Billy Bob Thornton is a good choice for the never-say-die FBI watchdog while Rosario Dawson as an Air Force official has less to do. Michael Chicklis’ natural intensity is toned way down as the Secretary of Defense, something of a surprise in a movie with such tightly coiled action sequences.
The film’s 2.35:1 theatrical aspect ratio is presented with anamorphic enhancement. The color palette is rather subdued for the film with a light greenish-brown tone to most of the scenes. Flesh tones seem a little brown though the image is certainly sharp enough, and it’s also, not surprisingly, spotless showing no dirt or damage problems. There is occasional edge enhancement in the transfer, but it’s never obtrusive. The film has been divided into 24 chapters.
The Dolby Digital 5.1 audio mix is reference quality action movie material. The available tracks are all kept active during all of the major action set pieces, and when appropriate they’re quiet as the duo catch their collective breath between chases. With the large numbers of crashes and explosions, the subwoofer will be kept very busy delivering deep bass that will rock your viewing environment.
Disc one in the two disc set contains two bonus items. All bonus features on both discs are presented in anamorphic widescreen.
There are three deleted scenes (all wisely cut) which can be viewed separately or in one 3 ½ minute bunch.
“Road Trip” is a cut down “making of” documentary lasting 3 minutes basically discussing the film’s 90 locations and its use of real special effects as much as possible rather than digital creations. A much longer documentary on the film’s production is on disc two.
The majority of the bonus material is contained on the second disc.
An alternate ending offering a momentarily creepy continuation of the film’s major plot contrivance and wisely not used runs for 1 minute.
“Asymmetrical Warfare: The Making of Eagle Eye” is a 25 ½-minute documentary on the film’s production giving more information about the original idea, the director and star’s history together, the stars doing their own stunt work, and comments from the film’s cinematographer and production designer on their work in the movie.
“Eagle Eye on Location: Washington, D.C.” is a 6-minute tour of the primary Washington locations which could be used in the movie and not needing to be reproduced in a studio, specifically the Library of Congress and the Pentagon.
“Is My Cell Phone Spying on Me?” takes 9 ¼ minutes to touch on the possibilities that the film’s scenario is not that far from reality. It’s an interesting discussion not only with personnel from the film but from experts in the field of surveillance who have their own genuine fears about rights of privacy.
“Shall We Play a Game?” is a wonderful conversation between directors D.J. Caruso and John Badham talking about the movie and its similarity to Badham’s War Games. The conversation between the two friends lasts 9 ¼ minutes.
There is a 7-minute gag reel which concentrates on co-star Billy Bob Thornton’s problems with lines.
There is a step-through photo gallery featuring stills from the movie and also some behind-the-scenes shots.
The film’s theatrical trailer runs 2 ½ minutes.
The first disc offers previews of The Uninvited, Tropic Thunder, Ghost Town, and Without a Paddle: Nature’s Calling.
Sure, Eagle Eye is outlandishly plotted, but it’s loads of fun and doesn’t seem nearly as long as its 117 minutes would make you think it would be. The 2-disc DVD edition looks good and features outstanding audio. Recommended!