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The Warsaw Voice » Culture » November 12, 2008
The world of movies
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Eagle Eye
November 12, 2008   
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The increasing reliance of superpower defense systems on computers has been the premise of several movies since at least 1983 when John Badham's WarGames was released. Eagle Eye, the latest feature from D.J. Caruso (The Salton Sea, Disturbia), makes this software dependence its central theme. Eagle Eye is by no means light on clever ideas and the action moves along at a brisk pace. Had Caruso not run out of inspiration before finishing, the movie might even have had an intelligent ending.

Jerry Shaw (Shia LaBoeuf-Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, Transformers, Constantine), is a young misfit, a Stanford dropout who quit college to backpack around popular vacation destinations before landing a job at a photocopy shop cornily named Copy Cabana.

Jerry is shocked to learn that his twin brother Ethan, a technician at the Defense Department and the pride and joy of the family since childhood, has died. Coming back from the funeral, Jerry discovers that he has $751,000 in his normally empty bank account and finds his cheap rented room packed floor to ceiling with arms, ammunition, explosives and forged documents. Immediately his cell phone rings and a female voice says, "You have been activated."

Rachel Holloman (Michelle monaghan-Mission Impossible III, The Bourne Supremacy) is a young single mother whose life has likewise been a runaway failure. Rachel has a lowly position in a law firm and her asinine ex does whatever he can to withhold child support. Her gifted son Sam is a budding musician on his way to Washington D.C. to play for the president. Rachel uses this rare "me time" to go out and have a few drinks with her friends. Her cell phone rings and we hear the same female voice with the same inscrutable message.

What follows is a dazzling 90-minute pursuit that brings Jerry and Rachel together to obey the female voice. Jerry has little choice given the FBI is hunting him down as a dangerous terrorist while Sam's being in mortal danger is all the persuasion Rachel needs. This unlikely pair are protected by a mysterious yet omnipotent force while carrying out their unsolicited assignment. Traffic lights change to help them escape the FBI and automated port cranes attack FBI vehicles. Even the conveyor belts at L.A. airport do the bidding of the female voice. Their instructions come via advertising displays in streets and shopping malls and even on TV screens in a home cinema store.

Jerry and Rachel come to realize that their orders are coming from A.R.I.A., a Department of Defense supercomputer on which Ethan was working when he died. A.R.I.A. had turned on its builders after it recommended that an attack on suspected terrorists - shown in the opening scene - should be aborted. But it was overruled by the president himself. The computer determined that human decision making was flawed and was proceeding to eliminate the president and the government. Jerry and Rachel were merely the key pawns in this grand scheme.

The ending is a let down. Firstly, because the evil supercomputer is defeated by a low-tech crowbar. This is somewhat reminiscent of Soviet astronaut Lev Andropov (played with verve by Peter Stormare) in Michael Bay's Armageddon (1998). And secondly, because shooting an alleged assassin standing on a table just a few meters away is too hard for Secret Service agents. But hollywood just has to have a happy ending.
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