There are some producers whose stamp can be seen on a film regardless of who directed it [think Transformers – Steven Spielberg’s influence could be felt throughout, even above Michael Bay’s action sequences]. With I Am Number Four, it is Michael Bay’s influence that overrides D.J. Caruso’s direction in the final act – resulting in a film that may hew close to the novel [I haven’t read it, hence ‘may’] but falls apart, character-wise at the end.
We’re a week away from the release of D.J. Caruso’s I Am NUMBER FOUR and the folks at Disney/DreamWorks have released a couple of video profiles – Dianna Agron’s Sarah, and Teresa Palmer’s Number 6 – to whet your appetite. Check them out after the jump.
The trailer to I Am Number Four has been released reccently and for those of you that are Sci-Fi fans, this is a
film you’ll want to check out. Here’s the synopsis: Three are dead. Who is number four? DJ.Caruso (Eagle Eye,
Disturbia) helms an action-packed thriller about an extrordinary teen John Smith (Alex Pettyfer) who is a fugitive
on the run from ruthless enemies sent to destroy him. Changing his identity, moving from town to town with his
guardian Henri (Timothy Olyphant), John is always the new kid with no ties to his past. In the small Ohio town he
now calls home, John encounters unexpected life-changing events–his first love (Dianna Agron), powerful new
abilities and a connection to the others who share his incredible destiny. I’m personally not a big sci-fi fan but
after watching the trailer, I think this film will be worth seeing.
Eagle Eye marks the fourth time Shia LeBeouf has worked on a Steven Spielberg production, and the second time that he’s worked with both Spielberg and director D.J. Caruso – and the triple team may well be turning into one of modern cinema’s most potent.
Eagle Eye is a techno-thriller that comes across as a twisted tale that might make Tom Clancy duck for cover. It opens with a missile launch intended to take out a major terrorist – a launch that is undertaken with only a 51% chance of the target being correctly identified. From there we move into the life of Jerry Shaw [LaBeouf], who seems to be a typical, ambition-free slacker, watching him at work as a “copy associate” for Kinko’s-like copy shop; fleecing a few friends in a poker game, and attending the funeral of his identical twin brother.
The next part of the film is pretty much what we got in the trailer: Jerry finding a lot of money in his account and a lot of weapons components in his living room: the warning call and his being taken in by the FBI – introducing us to Special Agent Thomas Morgan [Billy Bob Thornton] – and his escape by incredible means and ultimately, his teaming up with Rachel Holliman [Monaghan], whose participation in what follows is coerced by threats to her son. From there, we do, eventually, learn the identity of the mysterious female voice that can call them even from pay phones, or a cell phone belonging to the napping guy across from Shaw on a train.
Part of the reason that Eagle Eye works is that a lot of it [but not all, as you’ll see when you learn the identity of the mystery woman] is technically feasible right now. The film hooks us with what’s possible then draws into the realms of the definitely not yet real. The transition is smooth and the shocking reveal of the source of the voice, and the over-the-top plot that follows, zip by quickly enough that we buy them in the context of the film. The way all the various parts of the film connect may be a bit of a stretch, but the sheer fun of the film supersedes that.
LaBeouf does a good job as slacker Jerry; Thornton keeps Agent Morgan from being just another federal grunt, and Rosario Dawson simmers as an Air force investigator looking into the death of Jerry’s brother – though Monaghan is barely adequate as Rachel.
Michael Chiklis gets the role of the Secretary of Defence Callister – a role that leads everyone to the key plot point of the film: the identity of the mysterious female voice that hounds Jerry and Rachel – and the voice’s grandiose plans.
The special effects are very good and the CGI have enough weight that we buy them even if they are used to create something that is way over the edge of the possible. There may be a nod to societal commentary in the way that various devices [security cameras, traffic cameras and cell phones among them] are used to shred the duo’s privacy, but it’s a surface thing that comes as the by-product of a thriller that aims more toward entertaining than saying stuff.
Final Grade: B