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Harry loved EAGLE EYE at Fantastic Fest!

I tell you – I knew it when I first saw THE SALTON SEA that DJ Caruso was a filmmaker to watch, but then he went through a rough patch of just not being teamed up with the right material. Then we had that great DISTURBIA screening at SXSW – where the film that looked like a total ripoff of REAR WINDOW, from a Teen vantage point – turned out to be… well, pretty much a ripoff of REAR WINDOW from a Teen vantage point… only, it not only didn’t suck, but was incredibly entertaining. So much so that it reminded me that DJ existed and when that film succeeded beyond everyone’s wildest box office predictions – it kinda meant that DJ should get a promotion of sorts. That he was ready for the next stage budget and a higher grade of script. Enter EAGLE EYE. A project hatched from a notion and conceit that Spielberg had been percolating for a while – waiting for the right team to hand it off to. D.J. seemed to be the key ingredient. And boy was it. So what is EAGLE EYE… essentially it’s a NORTH BY NORTHWEST style film dripping with paranoia, conspiracies and a story that is always a few steps ahead of the audience. That’s due to a great device. The voice on the phone. The faceless female that is seemingly everywhere and all knowing is a great character. Essentially – she’s an RPG Game Master controlling the most dangerous ‘game’ of surprise LARPing ever concocted. You see, Shia LaBeouf and Michelle Monaghan are just your average nobodies. Folks just working to get by, the sort of folks you don’t really notice. THEN… extraordinary shit begins to happen – a voice directing them… rather insistently with perilous ramifications for those that do not cooperate… to do her bidding. Just like a Dungeon Master, the voice is the source for all information for the characters, and just like an asshole Dungeonmaster – if you piss them off, she’ll put you nostril deep in a bog of eternal fuckedupness. The voice controls everyone and knows seemingly everything in real time. Now – it isn’t announced what time period this is, but I’ve got the feeling it’s no further in the future than some time in the next 5-15 years. The world seems stuck in the same sort of paranoid-fed levels of personal rights infringements – and the question that is forced into the forefront of my mind through most of this film is… WHAT IF – the access that is developed to learn everything about everything is turned against us. Who is the puppetmaster? Frankly, to me the most important question on your mind through the film is, “What Next?” – and you think that often and quickly. The film has an aesthetic look that is everybit as “pretty” as something that comes out of Michael Bay’s Dear Penthouse, I never thought I would shoot a film this well developed… fantasies. It has that beauty, without ever being stupid. The characters are developed, the turns are not predictable, the casting and random PEOPLE IN HIGH PLACES are there to SERVE THE STORY, not to artificially give it a sense of some misplaced grandeur and importance. In fact everything in the film advances the story, every image has a payoff. Every loose end tied up. It’s sort of like a Phil Alden Robinson / Hitchcock / Michael Bay / John Badham type of mash-up… that never feels cookie cutter. I dug the hell out of the film, the casting is rock solid – Shia is maturing throughout this film. Michelle Monaghan might be the best MILF of the year. Rosario Dawson is just one of my favorite actresses right now – not necessarily a meaty role, but I just can’t stop smiling everytime she’s onscreen. Then there’s the joy that William Sadler, Billy Bob Thornton and Michael Chiklis bring to the film. They’re just the sort of dependable and awesome performers that bring a gravitas to these situations, while adding personality and charm to their characters quickly, so the story can focus on developing Shia and Michelle, who are CENTRAL to the story and DJ never loses them through it all. Now – I should warn you. You shouldn’t seek out information on this film and there are spoilers that would have pissed me off royally had I found out prior to the film – so be careful reading reviews & the following Talkback. Ultimately, if you’re not thrilled in the first 25 minutes… especially the incredible action sequence that makes up the final 8 minutes of that part of the film… all I can say is… WHAT THE FUCK IS WRONG WITH YOU? THAT SHIT RULES! Is it huge and over-the-top and vaguely ridiculously awesome? ABSOLUTELY. Ok – time to attempt some rest. This festival is killer on one’s sleep schedule. And I have to be at the theater by 12:30 in the morning – that just barely gives me 8 hours to rest. Which would be the first real sleep I’ve seen since last Tuesday.

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