It may officially be autumn, but “Eagle Eye” gives fans of mindless summer action films one last chance to turn back the clock before the multiplexes are crowded with potential award-winners.
Too bad “Eagle Eye” can’t deliver the goods.
This fluff lacks any imagination, taking parts of better movies and meshing it into a jumbled plot that lacks the payoff it probably desired.
Shia LaBeouf stars as Jerry, a slacker with a dead-end job whose life is turned upside down when he begins to receive phone calls from a mysterious woman and is subsequently framed for terrorist actions.
Jerry joins up with Rachel (Michelle Monaghan), a single mother who is also receiving calls from the mysterious woman, with both trying to outwit the woman before she has them killed.
For about 60 minutes “Eagle Eye” kept me interested, but as the film’s secrets began to unfold, I found myself getting more and more annoyed with the film.
I can picture the pitch to the studio probably went something like, “Think ‘Enemy of the State’ crossed with ‘2001’ and ‘War Games!’ ” Sure it might seem like an interesting premise, but this screenplay - written by John Glenn and Travis Wright - piles one implausibility on top of another, completely ruining any suspension of disbelief.
To its credit, the star-studded cast tries hard. LaBeouf continues to establish himself as a rising star and Monaghan is quickly becoming one of my favorite young actresses. Unfortunately, the pair don’t quite have the chemistry that the film needs to be successful.
There is some interesting supporting work from Rosario Dawson, Michael Chiklis and Billy Bob Thornton, but it’s not enough to save the film’s ridiculous screenplay and D.J. Caruso’s distracting direction (it has the feel of a film directed by the late Tony Scott, with herky-jerky cuts and more emphasis on explosions than character development).
I realize that this is supposed to be more about the action than the characters, but it would help if there was any kind of connection with anyone - which isn’t the case with “Eagle Eye.”
This is, at best, a mindless action film void of the action, but heavy on the mindlessness.
DVD dandy of the week
This week’s dandy is “Iron Man” (B+) - the summer blockbuster that proved to be one of the top-notch action films of the season.
Robert Downey Jr. stars as Tony Stark, a wealthy playboy who supplies the U.S. government with advance weapon systems.
During a demonstration in the Middle East, Stark is abducted by terrorists who want the inventor to reproduce his newest missile.
Instead, Stark builds a suit of armor and manages to escape with a new outlook on the world. Once he returns to America, he sets out to build an even better suit and use it to protect the world from the terrorists like the ones who abducted him.
Downey has always been a talented actor, but his checkered past involving alcohol and drug abuse has clouded his resume somewhat. But this is Downey at the top of his game, delivering a performance full of humor and self awareness.
The cast also includes Terrence Howard, Jeff Bridges and Gwyneth Paltrow - who gives her best performance in years as Stark’s quick-witted assistant, Pepper Potts.
While the cast alone is enough to make even mediocre material seem manageable, “Iron Man” has a script that matches the talent level - full of zip and spark that is reminiscent of other successful super hero films like “Spider-Man” and “Batman.”
But this is a film that is actually a notch above those two movies, making it one of the best films in the genre in recent memory.
Even before “Iron Man” made more than $300 million during its theatrical run, the wheels were in motion for a sequel. That’s good, because “Iron Man” leaves open some intriguing possibilities. Here’s hoping this is the beginning of a long, successful franchise.
“Iron Man” is rated PG-13 for intense sequences of sci-fi action and violence and brief suggestive content and is now available on DVD.
— A proud member of the media elite, sportswriter/movie reviewer Micheal Compton can be reached by e-mailing email@example.com.