For further proof that actor Shia LaBeouf is a Hollywood superstar in the making, check out Eagle Eye, a ridiculous wrongly-accused-guy-on-the-run thriller in which the actor spends most of his screen time sprinting and panting, and yet still manages to hold the movie together. Barely.
OK, not really. It's practically impossible to take a thriller seriously when the bad guy turns out to be an omnipotent computer with a dulcet voice that has started thinking for itself and decided what's best for mankind is to start killing people. Yes, I am fully aware of 2001: A Space Odyssey, thank you. But at least Kubrick gave us a ton of impenetrable, metaphysical claptrap to obsess over along with his evil machine. 2001 had the monolith. And that room in outer space with all the old furniture. And The Blue Danube.
Eagle Eye just gives us car crashes and foot chases. Anticipating cries that he's ripping off 2001, director D.J. Caruso (who ripped off Rear Window in his previous movie, Disturbia) makes his computer female. See? It's not HAL. Our computer's a chick! And she's named ARIEL. They couldn't be more different. So what if they both happen to have a giant red eye? Ours turns purple when ARIEL gets mad!
The evil machine in Eagle Eye is housed in a room filled with shiny silver orbs that makes it look like the VIP lounge from a cruise ship disco. ARIEL can also tap into any machine whatsoever -- cellphones, security cameras, subway trains, the TV monitors at McDonald's -- which is how it forces two innocents, the slacker Jerry (LaBeouf) and single mom Rachel (Michelle Monaghan), into suspicious behavior that makes them look like terrorists.
Unfortunately, ARIEL cannot do something about the annoying twerps who insist on sending text messages to God-knows-who during a movie (note to moviegoers who think they're not bothering anybody just because they're texting: when you use your cellphone in a theater, you are effectively shining a flashlight into the eyes of everyone around you. Please, just stop.)
Anyways, Jerry and Rachel do as ARIEL commands, while an FBI hotshot (Billy Bob Thornton, once again bringing a modicum of class to a movie that doesn't deserve it) and an Air Force investigator (Rosario Dawson) try to stop them. This often involves pursuing them at breakneck speeds. The car chases in Eagle Eye are so chaotic, they make the Humvee chase from The Rock look like a Driver's Ed safety film. But at least director Caruso uses real cars, instead of computer-generated ones. For some of the chases, anyway. After things get so preposterous they can't even be faked on a movie set, the CGI swoops in.
During the occasional slow moments, Jerry and Rachel argue and bicker and, you know, fall in love. Monaghan (Gone Baby Gone, The Heartbreak Kid) remains a curiously ineffectual actress: No matter how much screen time she gets, her characters never leave so much as a trace. But at least LaBeouf makes for a likable hero. He's got the same kind of easy, natural charisma as Will Smith -- who, come to think of it, starred in another techno-paranoia thriller, Enemy of the State, that Eagle Eye strongly resembles. OK, they're practically identical. Except for the evil computer part.