Halfway into the film, there is a major, major plot twist that I could have given away in this review, but I didn’t, even though I guessed it over a month ago based on nothing but the trailers. Suffice it to say that if I had been writing this review for people who had already seen the film, rather than people who hadn’t, I would have written it very, very differently.
One extra note. Sometimes, when you write something, you are surprised by the words or phrases that come to your mind, and in this case, I was struck by the final sentences of this paragraph:
I wouldn’t exactly call it suspenseful; just as, say, Paycheck was a non-suspenseful film because we knew that Ben Affleck had foreseen everything and given himself a way out in each and every case, so, too, Eagle Eye is the sort of film in which the forces manipulating Jerry’s life seem so absolutely in-control that we don’t really sit on the edge of our seats, so much as we sit back and wait to see how everything will be explained. Is Jerry nervous and terrified for his life? Heck yeah. But we, sitting outside his life and watching it — at times through the same security cameras that the woman uses — can sense that no task she gives him will be impossible. Somehow, he will always be able to do what she tells him to do.
After typing those words out, it occurred to me that they were remarkably similar to those passages in the Bible where, say, we are told that God will not let us endure any temptation that we cannot handle. Add to this the way the security-camera footage resembles so-called “God shots”, and the way “the woman” on Jerry’s cell phone tells him to jump from an office several storeys above the ground, just as Morpheus asked Neo to make a similar leap of faith near the beginning of The Matrix (1999), and you could almost say that Jerry’s relationship to “the woman”, and the way he is expected to trust and obey her as she watches him from above, has parallels to our relationship with God.
But there is one small problem with this sort of parallel. “The woman” is the villain of this particular story. And to discuss the particular kind of villain that she is, I would have had to get into serious spoiler territory. So I wasn’t really sure where to go with this idea, and since my deadline was bearing down on me, I just forged ahead with some other aspect of the movie.
Later, however, I came across Victor Morton‘s review of the Coen brothers’ Burn after Reading, a spy-movie spoof of sorts that I found amusing in places but didn’t care for as much as he did. And one paragraph of his review in particular jumped out at me:
This universal idiocy is why BURN is the ultimate demystification of the spy movie. The genre has depended on the omniscient The Man for at least the 50 years since the scene in NORTH BY NORTHWEST where Leo G. Carroll explains George Kaplan to a roomful of spooks. Always, the premise has been that somewhere there’s someone who knows everything. Even in THE BOURNE ULTIMATUM, where The Man is the baddie, he still provides the omniscient, omnipotent Center for the movie’s universe because he can see anywhere in the world and do anything. The Man is a secular god that we build in order to overthrow (secularism eating its own young as it were). The Coens blessedly are having none of that.
“The Man is a secular god that we build in order to overthrow”. Yeah, that seems like a good place to start. Even when, as in Eagle Eye, the “secular god” in question has the voice of a Woman.