Review: Eagle Eye

October 14, 2008 at 10:02 pm (Review, Technology) (, , , )

I was able to see a pre-screening of Shia LaBeouf’s “Eagle Eye” some time ago and I wanted to record some thoughts about it.  One thing to note is that I’m not planning on holding anything back so SPOILER ALERT!

Initial Reaction

I though it was an interesting movie with and interesting premise.  I very much liked the GLaDOS evil computer (it even looked a bit like GLaDOS with all of her orbs) pulling the strings and utilizing its resources to keep the United States safe.  It was an entertaining flick with so much going on you can’t help but pay attention.  It was an intriguing combination of “Enemy of the State” and “I, Robot”.  After thinking through the movie though . . .

What Disappointed me About the Movie

I was disappointed on many levels with this movie.  I was disappointed in the character development in this movie.  Everyone would agree that Michelle Monaghan’s character “Rachel Holloman,” didn’t really grow in the movie either.  She is a two-dimensional mother to her son, which is a fitting foil for our hero “Jerry Shaw” who doesn’t seem to care about anything including family.  But I would submit that our hero “Jerry Shaw” didn’t seem to grow in this movie either.  As much as I love happy endings I feel that having a happy ending for this movie killed any chance for overall character development.  If Jerry Shaw would have died saving his country, he would have grown.  Jerry would have gone from not caring enough about anything to stick to anything, to caring enough about his country and for his brother to not let either go without a fight.  But in the end he didn’t almost die to save his country, he died to save his new girl friend.  The beginning of the movie you already know that he will expend some effort to impress a girl.  He falls in love with her and in the end we are shown that he is a part of her and her son’s life.

This aside, I have other concerns about this movie.  Issues this movie brings up are very relevant.  You have privacy and artificial intelligence (even more current considering the recent Turing Test), which are two big issues of today.  This movie doesn’t attempt to make statements about either.  There was ample opportunity but this movie fell short from being a relevant movie contributing to the discussion to simply an action flick.  Not that I should be surprised since . . .

What Disappoints me About this Genre

I must say that this entire genre disappoints me.  I couldn’t help but think half way through the movie, “This computer is obviously not Three Laws Safe.”  When will we get over our, as Asimov would put it, “Frankenstein Complex”?  Man makes machine, machine kills/controls man is getting old.  I admit it some of it hasn’t been too bad like “Bladerunner” (this actually goes both ways), “Matrix,” or the “Terminator” trilogy+.  But really, I would like to see some movies that do better.

… robots, are a subject to which the modern science-fiction writer has turned again and again.  There is no uninvented invention … that is so clearly pictured in the minds of so many: a sinister form, … vaguely human, … and speaking with no emotion.  The key word in the description is “sinister” and therein lies a tragedy, for no science-fiction theme wore out its welcome as quickly as did the robot.  Only one robot-plot seemed available to the average author: the mechanical man that proved a menace, the creature that turned against its creator, the robot that became a threat to humanity.  And almost all stories of this sort were heavily surcharged, either explicitly or implicity, with the weary moral that “there are some things mankind must never seek to learn.”  — Isaac Asimov “Robots I have Known”

This is as true in our time as it was when Asimov wrote it in the 1950s.  Asimov’s solution to this was the “Three Laws of Robotics” which in the end didn’t stifle his ability to write on the subject.  I’m tired of these “I, Robot” (which I submit is completely miss named) and “Eagle Eye.”  I would like some more intelligent movies that don’t have the “Frankenstein Complex” but show that Robots could really have some of the ideals that humanity is missing/or deficient in.  Loyalty, concern for life, and humble service are some of the possibilities.

Well, that is what I thought about “Eagle Eye.”

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3 Comments

  1. Tim Disney said,

    Yep. He should have died. Would have made the movie so much better. I really wish hollywood was OK with “sad” endings. They make some movies (like this one) so much more meaningful.

    Regarding the three laws, you could kinda make the argument that the Eagle Eye computer was just following Asmiov’s zeroth law (protect humanity) and was rationalizing its decision by saying it was all for the great good (the greater good!). That’s actually a fairly interesting question to explore, when do the needs of the few outweigh the needs of the many? Is it ok to kill one to save 1 million?

    Of course this has been explored quite a bit already in movies and novels much better crafted than Eagle Eye.

  2. mollyjo said,

    @disnetdev Although I appreciate the reference to the zeroth law, I think that the writers are not worthy of your defense. GLaDOS’s (or should I say “Eagle Eye’s?) motivation was to give it more power to help combat terrorism (proactive) versus its previous role of taking care of current threats to the country (reactive). As an aside, this could have been pulled out as a political commentary since as a country we were reactive in our war with Afghanistan and proactive (hotly debated) in our war with Iraq.

    The computer ended up becoming more of a terror than the terrorists it was designed to combat (sounds very Frankenstein-like to me!) To me, I think what sealed any sympathy I had for Eagle Eye was when it needlessly killed the guy in the desert with the power lines. Not needed and definitely not “Three Laws Safe.”

  3. Man-vs-Machine « Molly Jo’s Weblog said,

    […] 17, 2008 at 10:35 pm (Uncategorized) Ever since the Eagle Eye post I’ve been trying to think of story lines with man and machine (in particular artificial […]

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