Eagle Eye 

2008

There's nothing inherently wrong with wildly implausible thrillers. But cinematic goofiness is tough to pull off without the commensurate amount of winking at the audience, and "Eagle Eye" is one eye desperately in need of a few winks.

In this mishmash of "WarGames," "Enemy of the State" and post-9/11 paranoia, Shia LaBeouf plays Jerry, an aimless copy boy whose life is thrown into disarray when he receives an anonymous phone call in which a female voice tells him that the FBI is about to arrest him on suspicion of terrorism. She's right.

A prickly FBI agent (Billy Bob Thornton) is unmoved by Jerry's claims of innocence. It doesn't matter much, since that pesky caller rings again and engineers his escape from custody. One contrivance leads to another, and soon Jerry finds himself teamed up with a frazzled single mom (Michelle Monaghan) who has also been getting calls from that mystery woman, who evidently controls every phone, traffic light, computer terminal, surveillance camera, fax machine and X-ray machine in the country.

"Eagle Eye" is fast-paced, but it is hampered by a preening weightiness. The eye-rolling mystery at its heart doesn't fit comfortably in a movie that also strains for real-world relevance.

If you give "Eagle Eye" more than a few minutes of thought "? and if you do, you're being far more generous than the screenwriters were "? it'll dawn on you that the script turns on the conceit that all its characters are idiots. It is nonsense that an abundance of explosions and car crashes can only obscure, not erase.

"?Phil Bacharach

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