Eye See You (2002)

Eye See You

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AKA: D-Tox

Agent Jake Malloy is on the trail of a ruthless serial killer who likes to play games with his victims. Malloy boasts that he’s close to catching him, but when the murderer kills Malloy’s friend, and then his girlfriend, right under the agent’s nose, not even the killer’s death can assuage his guilt, and Jake spirals down into addiction. But while Jake may have given up on life, his friend Chuck hasn’t given up on him, and he checks Malloy into a rehab facility for cops, located in the middle of the Wyoming wilderness. While Chuck hangs around nearby to keep an eye on his friend and do a little decompressing of his own, Jake gets settled in with the rest of his mentally unstable law enforcement brethren, while remaining cautiously skeptical about his ability to overcome his past demons. But when a monstrous blizzard blows through cutting off the clinic from the outside world and the other patients start dropping like flies, Jake suspects that his past may not be as far behind him as he’d hoped, and the killer he’d thought long dead may be back for another round.

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No, not that kind of round….

In my search for some winter-themed fare, I stumbled upon this little psychological thriller featuring Sylvester Stallone that I had never heard of before. And why should I have? By all accounts the film was so poorly received upon the movie’s initial screenings in 1999 that Universal shelved it for three years before giving up the rights to another distribution company, essentially washing their hands of the film and disowning it from their catalog (even though previews seen on DVD’s from the era clearly show them advertising clips of the movie.) After having watched it, I can see why they weren’t exactly…. shall we say, excited? There’s really not much thrilling about this little psychological tale of cat-and-mouse, and in fact, it’s fairly predictable. But while there may not be too much excitement in the rather paint-by-numbers plot, I found the movie’s other facets allowed it to remain relatively entertaining.

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The first thing I noticed about the film is, shockingly, just how lovely it is to look at. Considering the movie’s rather bleak tone and color palette, and that the film was treated like the fungus you find under the pile of Direct-to-Video titles that no one seems to want, the cinematography on this thing is great. Shots are framed well, action is easy to follow, and there are some beautiful panning and point-of-view shots, including a bird’s eye view taken from a helicopter as the camera slowly zooms down towards an actor walking hundreds of feet below in the snowy ground that does wonders for heightening the feeling of the film’s isolation. I was actually very surprised and impressed with how striking everything was. I like it when poorly rated films surprise me with things like that.

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Another thing that surprised me was the rather excellent acting caliber on display. Sure, the headliner is Stallone, who does an excellent job as the lead, in a role that at that point in time a lot of people likely weren’t expecting from him, but the film also features several very recognizable supporting actors, like Charles S. Dutton, Robert Prosky, Polly Walker, Courtney Bernard Vance, Robert Patrick and Kris Kristopherson. Hell, even Rance Howard has a bit part in this thing, thanks to him basically being Hollywood’s go-to for the role of ‘friendly old codger’ when he got older. Granted, I’m sure some, or hell even a lot, of those names don’t mean a lot to most people, but if you’ve watched enough movies from the 80s and 90s, I guarantee that their faces will be instantly recognizable. And for anyone else who’s not into that era, let’s just say that if you put all the awards and nominations together that these people have accrued over the years into one room, you wouldn’t be able to get out without tripping over something. That is a shockingly solid cast and other than a couple of instances that verge on overacting, they all put in some really strong performances.

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Unfortunately, where the movie flounders is the plot. The film starts off very strong, with us being introduced to Stallone’s character and following the series of events that leads to tragedy, and ultimately his despair and his fall into addiction. This entire section of the film is handled with logic, honesty and a strong sense of earnestness. But after Jake Malloy reaches the rehab center problems pop up and the plot slowly starts to fall apart. For starters, while the actors playing them might be great, there are really just too many characters in this movie. There are a good fourteen patients and auxiliary staff members to keep track of and some of their parts are so small that you either don’t ever get a chance to know them, or they pop in and out so randomly that you’ll likely forget who they are. But a lot of them annoyingly stick around to the end, so you’re forced to keep track of them anyway.

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I’m sorry, what was your name again?

Then there’s the issue of the killer’s inexplicable ability of movement. The movie not only wants you to believe that he somehow memorized the building’s confusing layout and duct system in less than two days without anyone noticing, but that he’s also somehow able to perfectly navigate his way outside during a blizzard. I mean, I know it’s fun in horror movies where the killer pops up in front of a character with no warning while they’re running away, but that usually only works with supernatural foes. When it’s a perfectly normal human doing the same thing, that trope becomes annoying. And that’s not even taking into account the series of convenient coincidences needed for the killer to have cheated death, stalked Malloy, and snuck his way into the rehab facility in the first place. It’s things like that that make the plot so predictable, because instead of following any kind of real-world logic they’re following familiar tropes the viewer has seen a dozen times before.

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Yeah, let’s split up. That’ll end well for the one guy without a gun.

But likely the strangest plot related issue the film has, is that once Jake gets to the rehab center, he basically becomes a side character in his own story. The movie becomes so busy focusing on everybody else and the events going on that Jake literally spends a good third of the movie standing around with nothing to do. That’s right, he pretty much says nothing, and does nothing but people watching for the equivalent of 40-minutes, until the climax rolls around and he becomes relevant and engaged again. I guess you could try to write it off as Malloy being a detective and observing his surroundings, but that really doesn’t work, as even after all that “observing” it still takes him a while to figure out what the hell is going on. It’s just a truly bizarre story progression for the guy who’s seemingly supposed to be the lead actor.

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So bored…. nothing to do…. losing will to live….

Eye See You is not necessarily a great movie by any stretch of the imagination. But despite its flaws I ended up really liking it. It’s a decent thriller with some great acting and pacing. It’s got a good opening and an exciting ending, and it’s accompanied by visuals to die for and a strong atmosphere. Basically, it’s got almost all the pieces needed for a great film. But the part where it falters is the bit towards the middle. If the plot and story had been tighter there, the film would have been great. But even as it is, it’s still pretty fun, and probably deserves better reviews than it’s gotten. If you’re looking for a quick, easy thriller, and aren’t too picky about details, then this could be an enjoyable watch.

Eye See You is available on a variety of streaming services.

It is also available on DVD and Bluray.

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Michi

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