Andy Bockelman: 'Eagle Eye' a sharp action flick

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In a society where privacy is a thing of the past, the action movie "Eagle Eye" is an accurate reflection of the constant observation the average person must endure.

The life of Jerry Shaw (Shia LaBeouf) is unpredictable - a college dropout, he has spent his life working to distance himself from his twin brother, Ethan, an accomplished Air Force officer. When his sibling unexpectedly passes away, Jerry is overcome with grief, but a more pressing matter arises when he receives an apartment full of dangerous materials, catching the attention of the FBI.

A voice on his cell phone begins giving him instructions for escape that coincide with constant "arrangements," such as the rerouting of trains and the destruction of FBI headquarters.

Jerry then meets Rachel Holloman (Michelle Monaghan), who also is receiving directions from the voice with the threat of her son's (Cameron Boyce) life at stake.

The two of them must keep up the pace as the voice forces them into more and more perilous situations.

LaBeouf does well as overgrown kid Jerry - rebellious and self-righteous, being pushed into subservience reveals his problems with authority, in addition to an obligatory crash course in Action Hero 101. Monaghan's character is less developed, but just as important to the plot as it unfolds.

As FBI Agent Thomas Morgan, Billy Bob Thornton is somewhat of a clone of Tommy Lee Jones in "The Fugitive" - a lawman who will find his quarry under any circumstances. And we do mean any.

Rosario Dawson is a little less convincing as Air Force Investigator Zoe Perez, who uncovers the source of the mysterious voice but somehow fails to make the connection soon enough.

The power of the film is certainly not based on its cookie-cutter characters - other than Jerry, there is nothing particularly intriguing or unique about any of these roles. However, the action of the story more than makes up for the bland people involved.

Several huge stunts will take your breath away as cars soar through the air, planes cause massive destruction and steel girders smash into the sides of skyscrapers. The fun of such escapism belies the slightly contrived but ultimately insightful story about the dangers of technology.

The casual observer will notice an obvious similarity to another LaBeouf film, "I, Robot," but with a more contemporary setting, it hits closer to home.

Calling "Eagle Eye" original would just be dishonest.

In his popcorn movie, director D.J. Caruso references Stanley Kubrick and Alfred Hitchcock, among others, and does not underplay these allusions.

Nevertheless, his sharp eye for details keeps the more banal elements from dragging down the movie.

Now showing at the West Theater.

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