Combustible Celluloid
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With: Adrian Paul, Megan Blake, Luke Eberl, Danny Trejo, John S. Rushton, Julie Horner, Tim Bell, James Marshall Case, Vinny Genna, Dale Girard, Juan-Carlos Guzman, Mark Joy, Devin McGee, Katrina Munday, David Schifter, Huyen Thi, Ryan O'Quinn (narrator)
Written by: Fran Clabaugh, Richard Clabaugh
Directed by: Richard Clabaugh
MPAA Rating: R for violence and some language
Running Time: 102
Date: 04/29/2009

Eyeborgs (2010)

3 Stars (out of 4)


By Jeffrey M. Anderson

Eyeborgs could simply have stopped at that title. It's the kind of title that could sell a movie all by itself in a pitch meeting. Who needs a plot when you've got a poster this good? But co-writer and director Richard Clabaugh -- who worked his way up from gaffer, to assistant camera operator, to cinematographer to director -- wants to say a little something extra.

And so, in the film, we briefly meet a pair of newscasters named Romero and Coppola, which can't be a coincidence. Francis Ford Coppola started out in "B" movies not unlike this one (in spirit), and Romero made (and still makes) horror films with a social conscience. And that's what Clabaugh has done, although here he doesn't exactly imply his message as he does make a flat-out accusation. In the film, the vice president has used Homeland Security and the Patriot Act to establish a nation-wide system of smart surveillance cameras that are actually robots. What's more, these creatures have the power to interfere if any "law breaking" is going on, and in an atmosphere of fear and paranoia, that can be interpreted loosely.

Lately the robots have begun to alter their video images to suit the bad guys. The term "make it look like an accident" has never been so literal. A stiff, emotionless cop, "Gunner" Reynolds (Adrian Paul), whose personal tragedy led to the implementation of the eyeborgs, begins to sense something's wrong when an eyeborg's video blames him for leaving a door unlocked. Later, he runs into a young rock musician, Jarrett (Luke Eberl), who is also the nephew of the President, though Jarrett does not like to advertise this fact. Add a bossy blond TV reporter (Megan Blake) and a conspiracy nut who repairs guitars (Danny Trejo), plus a plot to kill the president, and you've got a crackerjack "B" movie.

The movie's strength lies mostly in its ideas, mainly because the characters, acting and cinematography aren't all that terrific. (Clabaugh tragically employs shaky-cam throughout.) The visual effects are on the cheap side, but that's part of the charm of a "B" movie like this one. In one fun scene, Gunner and Jarrett meet in a safe place, where cameras aren't allowed: an erotic car wash. Overall the movie has one or two pretty good twists, though it does hammer home its opinions a little too hard. It's not quite as subtle or as funny as something like Robocop (1987), and it comes at least a couple of years too late (it's aiming at Dick Cheney, not Joe Biden). Still, I can't be too hard on any movie that includes Benjamin Franklin's quote: "They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety."

Image Entertainment released Eyeborgs on Blu-ray for 2010, and it comes with a trailer, a few short making-of featurettes, deleted scenes and bloopers.

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