A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that this action thriller from the producers of Transformers -- which stars Shia LaBeouf and promises plenty of "blow 'em up" scenes -- is likely to appeal to teenagers, especially boys. But while the movie is plenty violent, it's not especially graphic: It's obvious that people are dying in all of the explosions, but there's little blood. The language is stronger than most PG-13 films, featuring a couple of "f--k"s and the frequently used "a--hole," "s--t," and "bitch." Aside from a couple of early, tame conversations about dating and sex, there's only one little kiss in the movie. Product placements aren't overwhelming, but one extended sequence highlights a Porsche Cayenne SUV.
What's the story?
Copy-store clerk Jerry Shaw (Shia LaBeouf) and single mother Rachel Holloman (Michelle Monaghan) are mysteriously "activated" into a secret, illegal mission by a cell phone call. Neither wants to comply with the female voice giving them dangerous directives via phones and digital signs, but "she" has framed Jerry -- who's now a suspected terrorist -- and threatens to kill Rachel's son, who's on a school trip to D.C.. While Jerry and Rachel go around Chicago committing felony after felony as instructed, an FBI agent (Billy Bob Thornton) and Air Force investigator (Rosario Dawson) try to figure out why this seemingly normal duo have turned into super criminals.
Is it any good?
There's often too much going on in this movie -- though Shia LaBeouf definitely does his thing as the wise-cracking Jerry. In an episode of The Simpsons, Homer says "I'm going for the Shia LaBeouf thing. Not quite a nerd not quite a hunk. Shia LaBeouf!" That's the perfect way to explain the curly haired leading man's "ordinary guy" charm. He and Monaghan don't create sparks a la Sandra Bullock and Keanu Reeves in Speed, but they're likable enough as strangers literally thrown together who can't figure out what in the world is happening to them. Meanwhile, the impressive supporting cast doesn't have much to do except look surprised and angry. In addition to Thornton and Dawson, Michael Chiklis adds gravitas as the Secretary of Defense, and Anthony Mackie handsomely fills an Army uniform for the last third of the action. All are notable actors, but their characters are two-dimensional stereotypes at best.
Director D.J. Caruso channels his inner Michael Bay to fill this thriller with as many huge explosions as possible. The problem is that, unlike Bay's so-easy-a-caveman-could-follow-it scripts, Eagle Eye was written by four screenwriters. That's rarely a good thing, and in this case, the many twists turn one too many times, ending up in the realm of the completely ludicrous. Let's just say the terrorist mastermind is akin to a 21st-century HAL with a constitutional-law obsession. Confused? That's OK, because it's a muddled plot. But, look -- something else is blowing up!
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the film's Orwellian message. Is the idea of Big Brother even more frightening now that people share so much of their personal information online? How does the film depict technology and government surveillance? Kids: Does what happens to Jerry and Rachel make you at all cautious about social networking sites, blog, and other online activities?
- In theaters: September 24, 2008
- On DVD or streaming: December 27, 2008
- Cast: Billy Bob Thornton, Michelle Monaghan, Shia LaBeouf
- Director: D.J. Caruso
- Studio: DreamWorks
- Genre: Action/Adventure
- Run time: 118 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG-13
- MPAA explanation: intense sequences of action and violence, and for language.
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.