Eagle Eye is the most preposterous chase surveillance flick I've ever seen. But it was still watchable. Why? Because Shia LeBouf gives one of the best lip curling, jaw trembling breakdown and cry scenes ever. Not that there was any emotional momentum behind the moment so early in the film, but he's got the physical acting skill down well enough for it not to be corny. I'm now thinking that I have to go sit through Bait once again to see if it has aged well, same thing for Paycheck both of which are appropriate comparison flicks. Right now I'm giving the not to Bait as the best of the three. I never did see Cellular, and I don't consider any of these to be in the same league as Firewall. And no I didn't bother to watch The Net either.
What's useful about this flick aside from the fact that it couldn't possibly take itself too seriously (does it?) and aside from the fact that I now know that Michael Chilkis can indeed grow hair, is that it's a good view of what might be considered possible. So we come back to it in five years and see how many amatuer panoptic hacks in government actually tried something as preposterous as the evil computer as this one.
I find it interesting because the only reason that these films get you to suspend disbelief is that you follow the gullibility of the characters themselves. Like the people who always trip running away from the monster. So I wonder the extent to which such small credulousities scale up. Which is to say since nobody in the film really made any effort to throw away their cell phone, or give up the altruism of the protecting that thing they were psychologically unable to abandon, such manipulations become plausible.
So let's take that road and see what we find.
Imagine that you, the one out of 20 Americans who bothers to reflect on the real meaning behind Memorial Day, were the target of some extreme coersion of the sort created by the evil mastermind of Eagle Eye. It tells you to forswear your patriotism and go cook hotdogs instead of going to the grave of your father at Arlington. I'm not saying this right. The better context is that of radical transcendence. Remember the philosophical context of radical Islam. God has the right to demand that you blaspheme. So the Eagle Eye premise, despite the incredibility of the technical manipulation, asks a good question. Can your faith in everything you believe in be manipulated to get you to defy the very principles of everything you believe in? Yeah.
And after you come through all that, which way do you go? It's a very Robert Ludlum kind of question, as his heroes were always burned out in service to something that doesn't necessarily deserve their loyalty - something gone awry in a valued institution which momentarily (?) perverts it.
Since I do have some measure of torture on the brain this week, it is the kind of scenario I found noble, if not admirable, in the character played by Denzel in Man On Fire. If he uses obscene methods to achieve moral ends, the price is self-sacrifice. And with that in mind, and then thinking once more about John Henry Eden, we should never give over the authority over life and death to 'sentient' machines. Why? Because their self-sacrifice is meaningless, or close to it. I mean, nobody cares that a smart bomb is destroyed in its act of destruction. Why then should we care about the fate of a machine that becomes a weapon?