Friday, September 26, 2008

Shila LaBeouf is the ultimate "average Joe" turned hero in anti-government thriller "Eagle Eye": fibbies track you with your cell phones!

Okay, “Hiya” Shia LaBeouf appeared on “Ellen” today (taped yesterday), and after she echoed Dr. Phil’s satire of the Wall Street bailout, they sat down to visit. Shia sported his left hand in splints, and says that the hardest thing to do is crochet. Another favorite activity and skill, made hard now, is juggling (once a classmate's parent tried to get me into that as a boy). He says that the ca that ran the light hit him at 70 mph and he flipped twice. He was lucky. Here, Shia reminds us of "Kale" in Disturbia. He is the young Tom Hanks. He could go to Mars.

Seriously, he also told us that up to 20% of ordinary domestic cell phone conversations of ordinary Americans may be tapped (apparently legal under the Patriot Act) and wind up going through NSA computers for matches to terrorist activity. That was part of the factual briefing at Dreamworks for his new thriller, Eagle Eye, with Steven Spielberg as an executive producer and D. J. Caruso as director. The story is by Dan McDermott.

There’s more, and moviegoers are told that in the film. For example, even when your cell phone is off, the government can activate it and trace your movements with GPS. It’s not so different from OnStar, maybe, or even the secret GPS devices car rental companies use. The only defense is to take the battery out.

The film is a real roller coaster. The action never stops and mist more overdone than in almost any previous thriller of this type. Most people know that the story has to do with the apparent accidental death of a super Air Force Academy graduate, apparently hired into a sleuth program, named Ethan Shaw. His underachieving “everyman” twin brother Jerry (played by Shia) is dragged into the plot ("activated") by the fibbies, first by being "set up" and arrested. (Note the political point, that reportedly Steven Spielberg wants moviegoers to get: the government can go after any "enemy of the state" and set him and throw him into jail. It reeks of neo-McCarthyism.) He will be joined by a young paralegal Rachel (Michelle Monoghan). The plotters have every move calculated and timed in detail, with building banners in downtown Chicago, junkyard winches, and even power grid towers. At the heart of the operation is a super computer that more or less resembles HAL (that is, IBM) from 2001, and with a private Internet connection to “eyes” apparently coded down to individual crystals of xenon hexafluoride (which is toxic). The film moves toward a climax in the Washington’s Capitol, and even the musical rendition of the National Anthem by a kid’s band (in which Rachel’s son plays) fits into the plot. The CIA uses its drones, even on its own people, and even in the tunnel on the I-395 Expressway in Washington. I never knew that drones could be thrown like baseballs. In the end, the enemies are not the Islamic terrorists, but our own fibbies, but that is no surprise. The state, in this film, can do what it wants. Well, almost.

The film has a quick clip from the Paramount horror film "Cloverfield".

I have a posting on my network neutrality blog about the requirement that the government have warrants to track people by cell phones or similar devices, here.

Picture: No, the Washington Monument hasn't been knocked over-- look at the Reflecting Pool. With a milky sky and lower definition, the end result looks like a trick.

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