The film starts out with a scene depicting the US government executing a morally ambiguous and Geneva bending assassination on a suspected terrorist in the Middle East.
The film then zips forward to introduce the audience to Jerry (Shia Lebouf), an underachieving slacker working a photocopy store. Returning home from his brother’s funeral he discovers a stockpile of weaponry in his apartment, the FBI on his trail and a woman’s voice telling him to escape via his cell phone. The voice guides him through a number of impossible situations until he meets up with Rachel (Michelle Monaghan) a struggling single mother who is also being strung along by the mysterious voice.
The two are goaded into performing multiple acts of theft and terrorism, all the while on the run from FBI Agent Morgan (Billy Bob Thornton) and Air Force Detective Perez (Rosario Dawson). As the seemingly omnipotent voice guides them, the stakes get higher, and the action gets ever more intense as the two try to figure out who is behind all of this all the while trying to stay alive.
About halfway through the film a pretty big plot twist is dropped. And viewers are either going to roll with it or be completely turned off at that point. For my part I was too wrapped up in the frenetic pace of the film to care. It’s a strange thing to recommend movies that require you to “turn your brain off” but sometimes they work, and within those parameters this one does. It’s also kind of nice to note that none the trailers for the film keep spoil this surprise.
LeBouf and Monaghan carry the bulk of the movie and their performances carry just enough quirk, gravitas, and camp to pull it off. The chemistry between the two is believable and likable. Meanwhile Dawson, Thorton and Michael Chicklis (as the Secretary of Defense) pull their weight. All the actors ground the subject matter just enough to keep the film from crossing the border into ridiculousness.
Certainly if you stop to think about the convoluted plot for any length of time the seams show badly. Luckily Caruso never gives the audience that opportunity. The pace slows just enough to provide enough exposition to keep the audience guessing and the story moving before it lunges headlong into another breath taking action sequence.
The Action is filmed competently, and although the shaky close ups reminiscent of Michael Bay’s work or the Bourn Series, keeps the audience uneasy, the action is clear and easy to follow. Although I admit that in some parts I instinctually understood the scene rather than taking it in 100% visually. My only real gripe with the film is that music cues tended to be a bit heavy handed and often times covered dialog.
If you’ve seen the previews, or a movie poster, or heck even the title of the film, you know if this film is for you. The film is a lot of fun but don’t go in with any intellectual expectations.