- Released Internationally on 25/09/08
- Released in Malta by KRS on 22/10/08
In a nutshell
This technology-laden thriller combines government surveillance paranoia with modern-day omnipresent technology, and just might make you pause the next time you’re about to switch on your mobile phone.
Who’s in it?
Rising star Shia LaBeouf, who in a short span of time has gone from teenage nobody to Indiana Jones’ sidekick, takes on his first adult role as a college dropout whose life is turned upside down when a woman’s voice at the other end of a phone call starts ordering him around and displaying unnerving power over, and knowledge about, his surroundings. He’s soon thrust into an adventure with another unwilling participant – a single mother who has received similar phone calls and instructions, portrayed by Michelle Monaghan. Before they know it, they’re being framed as terrorists and have too much to risk if they don’t play along and follow orders. Rosario Dawson is one of the government agents trying to track down who is who, and Billy Bob Thornton gives a solid supporting role as the FBI agent who’s determined to find out who’s on which side. The uncredited but all-so important uncanny female voice which runs the show belongs to Julianne Moore. The film was conceived and executively produced by none other than Mr. Spielberg, and is directed by relative newcomer D.J. Caruso (Disturbia, Taking Lives, The Salton Sea).
Spielberg apparently hatched this idea a number of years back, and wanted to make a film about today’s technology that would make audiences feel insecure about the devices around them which they have begun to take for granted. In that respect, the concept sets out reasonably well. Like a number of films we’ve seen in past years, this one reminds us how things we do every day, like use a credit card, walk past a CCTV camera, or use a mobile phone, could potentially be giving away loads of information about us, for whoever is interested (and equipped enough) to see and store.
Where the film fails, however, is managing to present the above concept credibly. Apparently set in the present, and using what appears to be today’s technology, the plot stars off being believable but eventually veers remarkably off-track. When random phones on sleeping train-passengers start flashing out orders to the main protagonists, you realise it’s time to suspend belief, in a big way. Which is a pity, because the laughable coincidences and exaggerations detract from the real-life paranoia this film could have induced.
In the end
Having said that, this doesn’t mean the film cannot be enjoyed as a pure slice of thrilling fun. The pace is very quick and never slacks, and we’re taken along for a breathless ride. A large number of twists, turns and action sequences help keep the film interesting, as the two main characters are steered to what appears to be an impossible resolution. The acting is solid throughout, and the effects do their job nicely. There’s no denying that this is a fun ride, but what starts out trying to be realistic soon runs off into far-fetched fiction. So you can sit back and enjoy an above-average thriller, but don’t worry about leaving your mobile phone on.