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Eagle Eye September 27, 2008

Posted by Sai in English, Movies, Reviews.
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From executive producer Steven Spielberg and Dreamworks studios comes a psychological thriller that you’d wish you never heard of. A fantasy of epic proportions set in something that looks like the real world. A film that assumes you’ve never heard of the term disbelief. A film that crosses the barriers of implausibility and sprints into the depths of stupidity.

The trailer of Eagle Eye has played all summer long in front of almost every film I’ve watched (and it got terribly irritating by the end of the season). At first, it seemed like it might be an enjoyable mindless entertainer. But the makers seem to have focused on only one of those three words. Despite that, the marketing efforts should ensure a much better opening at the box office than it deserves.

Though it is based on a premise similar to that used in films like Cellular and Phone Booth, this film is closer to Bruce Willis starrer Live Free or Die Hard. While highly implausible, I was able to enjoy that film because it didn’t seem to take itself very seriously. And that is the problem with Eagle Eye. There is a single joke in the film if I remember correctly. The film takes itself too seriously when the plot is not even half as acceptable as that of Snakes on a Plane.

Nevertheless, director DJ Caruso (Disturbia) seems to have somehow convinced his actors to believe in this script and act with a straight face. They even seem somewhat earnest, Billy Bob Thornton (Bad Santa, Love Actually) especially. Shia LaBeouf (Transformers, Indiana Jones IV) is passable while Michelle Monaghan (Mission: Impossible III, Gone Baby Gone) and Rosario Dawson (Death Proof, Sin City) get quite forgettable parts.

The film runs on paranoia, an aspect that could actually seem identifiable in current times (a couple of initial scenes do ring true), but it is taken so far that it ends up being very very laughable. The chase/action sequences also turn out to be quite irritating with Caruso using extreme close-ups in conjunction with jerky camera movements and fast editing. He even films some of the stationary scenes this way.

I don’t believe that the fields of Artificial Intelligence/Machine Learning/Pattern Recognition will reach the levels of competence that the over imaginative and relatively inexperienced writers of this film (John Glenn, Travis Wright, Hillary Seitz, Dan McDermott) foresee in a long long long long time. And therein lies my primary difficulty in being able to accept this crap (even if I was able to ignore all the senselessness). But then everyone is not aware of the current state in these research fields.

If you are looking for a run-of-the-mill thriller with a fantastical plot that you won’t mind believing, Eagle Eye might not be a bad watch. Otherwise, don’t go anywhere near this film.

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Gone Baby Gone October 18, 2007

Posted by Sai in English, Movies, Reviews.
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Ben Affleck’s directorial debut is a crime thriller with a conscience. Set in Boston, the film revolves around the abduction of a four year old girl. Patrick Kenzie (Casey Affleck), a detective who finds lost children along with his partner Angie Gennaro (Michelle Monahan), is brought into the case to help the police due to his knowledge of the people in the area. Police chief Jack Doyle (Morgan Freeman) is not impressed but instructs his senior detectives, Remy Bressant (Ed Harris) and Nick Poole (John Ashton) to cooperate. As the investigation progresses, the team find some leads but something goes very wrong bringing the case to an abrupt end. However, Kenzie becomes emotionally attached and he investigates further to uncover the truth behind what went wrong.

The screenplay (by Affleck, who co-wrote Good Will Hunting, and Aaron Stockard) is based on a novel of the same name by Dennis Lehane (Mystic River). Affleck does a splendid job in writing and directing this film. He creates the right mood to feel the characters and the neighborhood. The dialogue is superb, especially in the first half of the film. Just when you think this could be a simple thriller, it kicks you out of your comfort zone. The rest of the film changes tracks to a brooding moralistic drama. Affleck directs this smartly and manages to keep you guessing as the motives of each of the characters unfold.

This film is well cast and provides the scope for multiple actors to shine. Casey Affleck (Good Will Hunting, Ocean’s Thirteen), who is also winning over critics with his performance in The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford, is impressive as Patrick Kenzie. His brother’s faith in him is not misplaced. Morgan Freeman and Ed Harris are good as usual, with Harris getting the better part. Amy Ryan, playing the alcoholic mother of the kidnapped child, is very effective. Michelle Monahan is adequate but she doesn’t get the scope to impress.

The film has its share of twists to keep you engrossed but this is not the fast-paced popcorn thriller. It has a heart and a mind as well. Watch this if you are looking for an intelligent thriller that leaves you thinking. I was still wondering about the climax, its implications and what was right/wrong when I left the theater and I am sure many will have the same experience.