I know, movies are supposed to be escape from work. But I can’t help it. When I watch, I have a blast dissecting the main characters and their relationship, then I dig into the plot and structure of the story. And this movie gave me the perfect specimen for all of it! Read on story-lover!
Warning: this movie is old enough that my analysis does have spoilers, so be alerted.
The Hero: Jerry Shaw.
A typical SWASHBUCKLER, (according to the categories by Tami Cowden) he begins the story in a poker game where he’s trying to con the other players. Of the four temperaments, he is a Sanguine-Choleric (Charismatic and Driven). He cares little about anything but himself, willing to steal (yes, that’s accepting money that doesn’t belong to him) without much thought about how the bank’s “mistake” might impact others. As much as I considered him a jerk, I felt sorry for him. His self-absorbed attitude made him miss so much of life. And I think he realized that when his “perfect” brother died.
His “dark moment” must have occurred sometime when his brother proved more worthy than him. You get the feeling that he’s never been as good as his brother at anything. This is all brought home as the antagonist shows him picture after picture of his life – all mistakes, or short-comings. Times when his brother excelled. Jerry Shaw’s Black Moment. But the scene ends with him willing to give up his life. A complete turn-around from the man at the beginning of the movie. His character arch reaches completion. Without wavering, he darts into position, fully expecting death.
Through the journey, he started out only taking care of himself. Then he expanded into protecting his heroine. He accepted that he was to die at his heroine’s hands and even urged her to kill him in order to save her son. Finally, he sacrificed his own life – as a full-blown WARRIOR – when he diverted an attack on people he didn’t even know.
(BTW, the fact that he lived is a big inconsistency in this movie. I can overlook the outrageous chase scenes, but Secret Service are too well-trained to shoot a man three times at close range and not kill him.)
The Heroine: Rachel Holloman.
She’s a CRUSADER. Her task focuses on the safety and well-being of her son. I think her dark moment must have been when her husband left her. She even flashed-back to the time. She realized that her son relied on her completely.
That’s why I consider her a CRUSADER rather than a NURTURER. The former will latch on to a cause and stay with it until the end. I think Rachel’s son is also her cause. A NURTURER, while dedicated, will address all the needs she sees. Further, though both are behind-the-scenes type of people, the CRUSADER isn’t afraid to get in the face of someone if pushed. She is more the momma-bear type than June Cleaver. In fact, she practically beats up the hero when they first meet.
Rachel changes little throughout this story. Though at the beginning, you get the impression that she’ll do anything to insure her boy’s safety, (She even shot over a cop’s head.) toward the end, she is faced with killing Jerry Shaw: a man just as trapped as she, yet who had protected, helped, and calmed her. The devotion to her son doesn’t ebb, but she can’t bring herself to kill another innocent person to protect her boy. Black moment! She’s sure that her son is doomed by her failure to obey.
The thing that makes the relationship between these two work is the change in the hero. A SWASHBUCKLER just can’t commit. Such devotion is against his nature. But as I said before, Jerry Shaw goes from being completely self-absorbed, to risking his life for people he doesn’t even know. As a true WARRIOR, he shows loyalty to a cause and a person, willing to lay down his life for both. So even though the romance (if you can call it that) in this movie consisted of meaningful glances and intensity, a strong and satisfying bond grew between the two characters.
I learned a technique at the Blue Ridge Conference in a class taught by Susan May Warren called Push/Pull. I saw it all over “Eagle Eye.” The idea is that the hero is pushed by something negative and then pulled by something positive in order to move in the right direction.
For instance, Jerry Shaw was negatively pushed to comply to the instructions he was given by a warning that the FBI was coming to arrest him. And they did. But then he was pulled by a promise of freedom when a crane busted into the room where they kept him.
He still needed more motivation. Another push: the FBI agents shooting at him. Another pull: the words “Jump Jerry, Jump” lighting up the marque across the street.
This type of technique happened throughout the movie. At one point, agents chased Jerry and Rachel, shooting at them. That’s a major push. But then they were instructed to drive at a certain speed. The voice on the telephone assured, “Don’t worry. You will get through.” Great promise of freedom – major pull.
In any story (movie or novel), every scene has to have something at stake. Usually something that is important to the main character. The stakes drive the scene forward and create tension. Well, tension’s not a problem in “Eagle Eye”
For Jerry Shaw, the stakes start out personal: he’s wanted by the FBI, framed as a terrorist. As the movie progresses, so do the stakes. His life is in danger. He can’t stay still because people are shooting at him. He is propelled into the path of his heroine.
She doesn’t change his stakes at first, but when people start dying around him, his stakes expand. Not only must he stay alive, but he has to keep this young mom alive, too. As the pair figure out what is going on, the stakes go from personal to public. The whole country is at stake, and only he and Rachel realize the problem and can fix it.
It’s like concentric circles. His concern starts with his desires, then his survival. The circle widens to include his heroine, then her son. Finally, it encompasses the president, national government, a roomful of strangers, and the country in general.
And every expanding ring heightens the tension just that much more. Mmm. Yummy!
Your turn: I know this was longer than usual, but too much fun! What is your favorite movie? Who knows; maybe I’ll rip it apart next?