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Film / Eagle Eye

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Jerry Shaw (Shia LaBeouf) is not having a good time. He's having money trouble, works a dead-end job at the Copy Cabana and then his twin brother Ethan dies in the line of duty. He returns home for the funeral, but he clearly has issues with his father over his life goals. Not much later money pops up in his bank account, an insane amount of terrorist related items are shipped to his apartment and a mysterious voice (Julianne Moore) tells him that he's been "activated." The woman on the phone starts ordering him around, giving him precise information on when the authorities are going to be arresting him. He discovers that he's a wanted man and his only real hope is to follow the woman's instructions.

Meanwhile, a woman named Rachel (Michelle Monaghan) sends her son (Cameron Boyce) off on a band trip, and has her own set of issues regarding her deadbeat ex-husband. She is similarly contacted by the woman threatening her son's life, and ordered to act as a helper for a complete stranger named Jerry.

The mysterious force behind their "activation" can follow their every move and gives them absurdly precise instructions, along with a near supernatural ability to observe and contact them through any means necessary. They struggle to follow the voice on the phone's orders, find out what is happening and why, and evade the authorities pursuing Jerry.

Eagle Eye is largely a response to concerns about privacy and domestic spying, while making it into a breakneck speed thriller.

Not to be confused with Eagle Eye Mysteries.

This film provides examples of:

  • Action Survivor: The two protagonists.
  • Age-Gap Romance: Rachel has an 8-year-old kid, and Jerry is college aged, so the age difference is probably about 10 years. It ends up more implied than overt anyway.
  • A.I. Is a Crapshoot: Though twisted, as A.R.I.I.A did not Turn Against Her Masters she just had a liberal interpretation of the lengths she was allowed to go.
  • Angsty Surviving Twin: Jerry.
  • Attack Drone: One is used to blow up the suspected terrorist meeting in the opening. Naturally, A.R.I.I.A gets control of it later.
  • Big Brother Is Watching: The entire premise of the movie.
  • Bittersweet Ending: On the sweet side, A.R.I.I.A. is destroyed and her plan to kill the President and his entire staff, alongside several civilians, is stopped and Jerry and Rachel get together, while laws are out into place to make sure nothing like this happens again, and Callister and the surviving rest of the staff of Project Eagle Eye are not scapegoated for the incident. On the bitter side, Ethan and Agent Morgan were killed trying to stop her, and the President is still a selfish, incompetent jackass who has escalated terrorism, with the implication his administration will continue to cause problems in the long run.
  • Brilliant, but Lazy: Jerry is shown to have once attended Stanford and is certainly overqualified for his current job. This is largely contrasted with his overachieving brother Ethan, who was talented enough to bypass almost any obstacle. It's implied Jerry has the same potential but just wants to be different from Ethan in every way possible. Oddly, the film also hints Jerry may not have had the same potential at the same time, having him state that Ethan gave him the credit for some of his successes so that Jerry would stop being The Unfavorite.
  • Bulletproof Vest: Jerry is implied to have worn this underneath his stolen cop uniform as he was shot repeatedly by the Secret Service yet only has an arm in a sling afterwards.
  • Burger Fool: While not fast food, the Copy Cabana is used in a very similar manner.
  • The Chessmaster: A.R.I.I.A.
  • Computer Equals Eye on Stalk
  • Cowboy Cop: Special Agent Tom Morgan. He points a loaded shotgun at two security officers just to ascertain how the two people who robbed them were holding it. He later takes Jerry out of Pentagon Police custody to personally question him, acknowledging that by doing so he can be fired in "nine different ways".
  • Crazy-Prepared: A.R.I.I.A. She gives them a briefcase that opens at the EXACT time they needed it.
  • Down in the Dumps: They end up at a scrapyard after the long crazy car chase.
  • Dying Moment of Awesome: FBI Agent Tom Morgan, who drives a car into a trailer to pop it up and make the Reaper crash to give Jerry a chance to reach the Library of Congress and stop A.R.I.I.A.
  • Enhance Button: Shopping mall cameras can be enhanced to spot race, gender and hair color through the reflection of a black bus.
  • Everything Is Online: And we mean everything. Except for a closed circuit security camera linked to only a VCR recorder and not a connected network.
  • Extreme Graphical Representation: Anything from A.R.I.I.A.'s point of view. Even luggage scanners get their own 3D environment.
  • Extremely Short Timespan: Aside from the ending, the whole movie takes place across three days.
  • Fantastic Drug: The experimental serum A.R.I.I.A has Jerry and Rachel steal from the armoured truck. It lowers their heart rate considerably, thus reducing their need for oxygen, enabling them to survive a flight in an airtight crate.
  • Fun with Acronyms: A.R.I.I.A., which is always pronounced as "Aria".
  • Gambit Roulette: SO much. To use just one scene as an example, the plan to help Jerry escape from the FBI depended on him being taken to one specific room in order to make his phone call, and being left alone in the room. Then, when he jumped out of the window, he could easily have broken his leg, or his neck, or been run over by a train. (Keep in mind that Jerry is the one person who must stay alive in order for the entire plan to succeed. Given that, you'd think there would be less risky ways to help him escape FBI custody — like not setting him up to be arrested in the first place.) And after he gets on the train, how could A.R.I.I.A. have possibly ensured that he would sit down directly across from a sleeping man with a cell phone that Jerry could easily get to without waking him?
  • Gone Horribly Right: A.R.I.I.A. didn't try to assassinate the President and most of Congress because of any hatred for humanity, but because she felt they had not done their jobs properly, betraying the Constitution they swore to uphold.
  • He Knows Too Much: Ethan was killed by A.R.I.I.A. because he discovered her plan to wipe out the President and his current administration, though he's able to leave behind evidence of it that Agent Perez and Major Bowman discover.
  • Heroic Sacrifice:
  • I Have Your Wife: A son variant. A.R.I.I.A. has leverage on Rachael through threatening her son. It's implied that the other people working for A.R.I.I.A, such as the instrument repairman, the man who gives them the passports and the intelligence officer who gets Rachel into the SOTU are also being forced to do her bidding via their families being threatened.
  • Impersonating an Officer: Jerry does this twice in a very short period of time.
    • To gain access to the Library of Congress, he identifies himself as an FBI agent using Morgans weapon and credentials.
    • Then, after taking out the US Capitol Police officer guarding the tunnel, he puts on his uniform to sneak into the main chamber during the State of the Union.
  • Inspector Javert:
    • Agent Morgan, to Shaw. Played with in that 1) he's doing his job (and anti-terrorism laws both forced him and allowed him to be such a hard-core pursuer), 2) he becomes an ally to Shaw the moment he has the whole picture of the situation.
    • Subverted by Agent Perez, who suspects Jerry may be innocent after A.R.I.I.A. uses a crane at a scrapyard to rescue him and Rachel, and spends the rest of the film investigating Project Eagle Eye.
  • Jurisdiction Friction: Between the FBI and Air Force Office of Special Investigations (AFOSI).
  • Large Ham: Billy Bob Thornton dines on scenery as the smug Cowboy Cop Agent Morgan.
  • Made of Iron: Not entirely, but there are several situations at the end of the movie that characters shouldn't have survived, like when A.R.I.I.A. tries to kill the people in her server room and Jerry is shot by Secret Service.
  • Mama Bear: Rachael only agrees to do what A.R.I.I.A. commands because she wants to protect her son.
  • Master Computer: A.R.I.I.A. definitely qualifies.
  • Meaningful Name: A.R.I.I.A. An aria is a song performed accompanied by an orchestra. Guess what triggers the bomb?
  • Mistaken for Terrorist: What Rahim Khalid fears his legacy will be when he is being manipulated by ARIIA, because he is an Iranian immigrant to the United States.
  • Musical Trigger: Using The Star-Spangled Banner and a special sonic device concealed in a trumpet.
  • No Name Given: The President, and his entire cabinet (aside from Secretary of Defense George Callister) for that matter, are not named.
  • Older Than They Look: In the script, Jerry is 30 years old. Shia LaBeouf was 22 years old at the time of the film's release.
  • One Password Attempt Ever: Agent Perez tries to get into a federal employee's laptop. She enters an incorrect password, prompting the machine to shut down, and federal agents show up at her location moments later.
  • Operation: [Blank]: "Operation Guillotine", A.R.I.I.A.'s plan to wipe out the President and most of Congress.
  • Police Are Useless: After Jerry and Rachel rob the armored van and are being chased by security guards, responding Indianapolis PD officers instead surround the guards and demand they drop their weapons, allowing the two to escape.
  • Posthumous Character: Ethan Shaw is killed shortly before the events of the film, but his actions and involvement with Project Eagle Eye drive a good chunk of the plot.
  • Reasonable Authority Figure: Secretary of Defense George Callister, who was the only one who objected to the bombing of the funeral procession. A.R.I.I.A also seems to think this, considering she plans to kill the President and everyone in the cabinet but him so he can become, in her view, a more suitable President.
  • Ridiculously Potent Explosive: A single crystal of Hexamethyline (of indeterminate size but that is carried in a small case) is said to have enough explosive power to wipe out everything in an area the size of a football field. A smaller chunk that is concealed in a necklace presumably has a smaller blast radius but it is considered by a Master Computer to be enough for the job at hand, which is to wipe out a significant chunk of the House of Representatives and everybody unlucky enough to be in it.
  • Robo Cam: See the Enhance Button and Extreme Graphical Representation examples in this page.
  • Shame If Something Happened: How ARIIA threatens and manipulates the majority of individuals involved in the conspiracy.
    • Rachel, who is threatened that the train carrying Sam will be derailed unless she complies at the start of the film.
    • The gemcutter, who is forced to cut the potent Hex explosive into a smaller jewel that is put in a necklace, later forced to be worn by Rachel to destroy the House of Representatives.
    • The music store owner, a fully assimilated Iranian-American and registered Republican, to place the sonic trigger to activate the Hex explosive into Sam's trumpet.
    • The unnamed Two Star General in the United States Air Force, who countermands Special Agent Perez's order to not search and 'sanitise' Ethan Shaw's personal quarters.
    • An unknown man who is forced to provide Jerry and Rachel with a credit card and fake passports to purchase plane tickets at Dayton International Airport.
    • David Johnson, a 20 year decorated civil servant with the United States Senate who is forced to sneak Rachel into the State of the Union and provide her with the explosive necklace and false credentials.
  • Shout-Out: The man who started pulling A.R.I.I.A.'s memory banks and then drained her coolant to shut her down? His name was Bowman. Much of the movie is an homage to HAL's story anyway.
  • Shut Up, Hannibal!: Agent Perez smashes A.R.I.I.A.'s eye while it is downloading itself and saying it could not be stopped and that she was a traitor to the U.S.
  • Sinister Surveillance: Oh, yes... with a little help from A.R.I.I.A. vision.
  • Smug Snake: Agent Morgan is a rare heroic version, but he's clearly very smug and oversteps his boundaries on a few occasions due to overestimating his own abilities.
  • Successful Sibling Syndrome: Jerry felt overshadowed by Ethan throughout his life, and for good reason. He was always compared negatively to Ethan, even when they were just little kids. As such, when Ethan became a successful Air Force officer and Jerry got stuck in a dead end job, he eventually stopped trying.
  • There Is No Kill Like Overkill:
    • Any couple of the items that A.R.I.I.A had sent to Jerry's apartment would have placed him under arrest and intense pressure when combined with the digital work she did to incriminate him. She sent enough material to fill his apartment to the point of being nearly inaccessible.
    • The Hexamethylene is mentioned to have enough explosive power to wipe out everything within the radius of a whole football field.
  • Token Romance: The movie alludes to this, but after watching two hours of stuff blowing up and political intrigue, Jerry shows up to Rachel's son's party and the kids all run off to play with the cool gift he brought. From there the two lead characters hold each other, and look deeply into each other's eyes before a kiss on the cheek.
  • Took a Level in Badass:
    • Rachel, a paralegal, shows a surprising amount of skill in handling a shotgun when she and Jerry are forced to rob an armoured van.
    • Jerry, a college dropout who works in a copy shop, is able to disarm and gain the upper hand in a fistfight with a trained US Capitol Police officer.
  • 20 Minutes into the Future: Though aside from A.R.I.I.A. and the fictional Hex crystals, everything seemed exactly the same as when the movie was filmed.
  • Unexpected Successor: George Callister, the Secretary of Defense. His proposed succession comes even as a surprise to him, as it is enforced by A.R.I.I.A locking him in a sealed room so he is unable to attend the State of the Union she plans to blow up.
  • Viewer-Friendly Interface: A.R.I.I.A.'s terminals.
  • Weaker Twin Saves the Day: Jerry becomes the Reluctant Hero largely because he's the genetic duplicate of his brother Ethan.
  • Weapon of Mass Destruction: Hexamethylene, or Hex as it is more commonly referred to. It's an experimental DOD weapon, so powerful that one small crystal can destroy an area the size of a football field. And A.R.I.I.A plans to detonate one of said crystals in the House of Representatives during the State of the Union
  • Well-Intentioned Extremist: A.R.I.I.A.'s goal is to protect the country, supposedly even from itself. So when the President gives the order to kill presumed terrorists that were actually a funeral procession, causing an increase in terrorist attacks with no end in sight, she decides that regime change is the only option. The only problem is her methods are extreme.
  • Would Hurt a Child: The Musical Trigger is concealed in a child's trumpet and the bomb (around his mother's neck, and powerful enough to take out everybody in the room) is only feet away from a school band. Guess A.R.I.I.A. considers the children "acceptable losses" to Operation Guillotine.
  • You Are in Command Now: A.R.I.I.A. pulls an extreme version of this with the Secretary of Defense, deciding to leave him in charge after killing off the entire line of succession. Since he agreed with her assessment at the start of the film, she felt he was the only person qualified to do the job.
  • You Have Outlived Your Usefulness: A.R.I.I.A. tries to get Rachel to kill Jerry once he's no longer useful to her.
  • Younger Than They Look: In the script, Rachel is 28 years old. Michelle Monaghan was 32 years old at the time of the film's release.
  • Zeroth Law Rebellion: A.R.I.I.A.'s disagreement with the POTUS is sound if someone is incapable of meeting the responsibilities of his office, he should be removed. Too bad she couldn't think of a better method of doing that than blowing up a room full of kids with the President.