LOS ANGELES — If you use a computer, they can find you. If you drive a car, they can see you. If you have a cell phone, they can hear you.
Even if it's off.
Welcome to George Orwell's prophecies come true, at least on the set of "Eagle Eye," where director D.J. Caruso showed MTV News that his new technological thriller isn't all fiction.
"I bet you didn't know that the FBI can listen in on you, because the FBI can turn on your microphone via the satellite through the phone company," Caruso chided, surprisingly sans tinfoil hat. "And no," he added, somewhat defensively, "I'm not lying."
This is a veritable nightmare for the characters played by Shia LaBeouf and Michelle Monaghan, two unassuming Americans caught in a high-tech, high-stakes chase when terrorists override the American surveillance mainframe (codename: Eagle Eye), and use it to destroy the country from within, in this new movie from the mind of Steven Spielberg.
After all, it's one thing for the government to use these devices to root out evildoers. But what if the evildoers could flip the switch?
"What if all this technology — OnStar, ADT security boxes, GPS, security cameras — if all these things could then be used against you to frame you for things you didn't commit, or to kill you?" LaBeouf asked, describing how his character rises to the top of the government's watch list when he's framed by outsiders hijacking America's Big Brother-like system for a heinous act of terrorism.
This ain't your older brother's "24," — or even "Live Free or Die Hard." It's a full-system failure that "couldn't have been [possible] five or 10 years ago," said Caruso, pointing to Americans' ever-increasing dependence on technology for daily activities.
"We were talking about this with Spielberg: I think technology has gotten to a point where [the movie is] going to be something everybody can relate to," he insisted, "because everyone's using the technology that our characters are using, and ultimately, it makes them susceptible to a lot of bad things."
On the night MTV visited with the cast and crew in downtown Los Angeles, those bad things included a run-and-gun car chase that was "sort of along the lines of 'The French Connection,' " according to Monaghan. In this early scene, her character, Rachel Crowley, first meets LaBeouf's Jerry, a "grifter, a hustler just trying to kind of make his way in Chicago."
"We have a really incredible car chase at the beginning of the film," Monaghan established. "And we get to drive — well, I get to drive a Porsche Cayenne Turbo through the streets of downtown Chicago."
"I'm just holding on, man," a visibly bruised LaBeouf laughed. "She's driving like a maniac."
The scene we witnessed was a manic display of hyperactivity, but that's nothing compared to the rest of the film, the actors promised, which takes place over the span of just three days. "We're [constantly] on the move," Monaghan said. "We're essentially being hunted, and we don't know what we're going to be asked to do from one scene to the next."
Problem is, they can never get away because they're always "on the grid," Caruso explained. "Every move that they make is known, whether it be a credit card swipe or a cell phone call or a traffic camera monitoring them, they're always being observed and always being controlled."
But the real problem? We all are.
"I think it's one of those things in everyday life, we always use our BlackBerry and all this technology, and we are unaware of how much information [we give away], and how easy it is for someone to track us and potentially control us," Caruso said. "Whoever it may be can [always] use this information against us."
LaBeouf and Monaghan can run, but they can't hide. "Eagle Eye" opens September 26.
Check out everything we've got on "Eagle Eye."
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