I loved this movie the way I loved National Treasure. If you can get past the fact that every event is so totally unbelievable, so totally unrealistic, and so totally outrageous, it is nothing but a thrill ride sparkled with some big laughs, and some really good acting. To me, it is acceptable to make a movie that is ridiculous, if the performances and effects make it truly worthwhile - which they do.
Jerry Shaw (Shia LaBeouf) is a young slacker - a clearly bright kid, but troubled. He has been kicked out of Stanford, much to the dismay of his demanding father, and he spends his time roaming the world, trying to find what makes him happy. His darkness stems from the fact that he is the identical twin brother of a kid who has been perfect in everything. The all-around nicest guy ever, Ethan Shaw was hard to follow.
When Ethan dies in an accident, Jerry is called back to his hometown for the funeral (a day filled with parental fighting, and sibling misery). Jerry's life is looking down even more than ever.
Then, suddenly, something strange happens the next morning. His bank account is $750,000 greater than the day previous. Jerry reacts in the way anyone would; go home, shut the door, and think.
Too bad this is easier said than done. His apartment is filled with all kinds of strange things; weapons, passports with his picture, and nitrate. Within seconds, Jerry receives a phone call from a strange woman telling him to flee his apartment immediately because the FBI is coming for him.
The voice doesn't lie. The FBI bursts into his room 30 seconds later. Next thing you know, Agent Thomas Morgan (Billy Bob Thornton) is interrogating him and Jerry truly has no idea what is going on.
Before too long, the mysterious woman on the phone has orchestrated his escape, and he is fleeing for his life, along with a woman also contacted by the mysterious phone voice. Rachel (Michelle Monaghan) is this woman; a single mother, and outrageously gorgeous. Her son's safety is at stake, and she and Jerry spend the rest of the movie on the run, following the commands of this mysterious woman on the phone. She seems to be able to make anything happen - she can change street lights, make telephone chords explode, and take control of video cameras.
Shia LaBeouf is great. He really is. He is the reason I didn't kill myself in Transformers, and he really held this movie together. I also didn't realize the depth of the acting he can pull off. In his "big emotional scene", he executed it so well, I was taken aback.
Michelle Monaghan is great as well. In fact there is no one here who doesn't have a notable performance. Rosario Dawson and Michael Chiklis make their roles happen, with some flair.
I liked D. J. Caruso's previous film, Disturbia, for the same reasons.
He has yet again proven he can make an average action/thriller, and take it to the next level. He has whittled character development and sensitivity into high suspense and action sequences - and that is where this movie succeeds. It's not about the believability, it's about the characters.
I eagerly await Caruso's next project.