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Eye See You (2002) Review

Eye See You, A/K/A D-Tox, was directed by Jim Gillespie (I Know What You Did Last Summer, Venom) written by Ron L. Brinkerhoff (The Guardian) who adapts from a book by Howard Swindle, and stars Sylvester Stallone (Escape Plan, Rocky), Robert Patrick (What Josiah Saw, Tone-Deaf), Polly Walker (Clash of the Titans, John Carter), Christopher Fulford (Tower Block), Robert Prosky (Thief), Jeffrey Wright (Only Lovers Left Alive), Tom Berenger (Inception, Faster), Courtney B. Vance (Terminator Genisys), Stephen Lang (VFW, The Seventh Day), Kris Kristofferson (Fire Down Below, Traded), and Charles S. Dutton (Alien3). It’s about a group of law enforcement officials at a detox center working to uncover the serial killer amongst them after their numbers start to thin.

The Plot: The ‘Ten Little Indians’ formula has been used plenty of times, even before it had a name or multiple names; and it’s been made into a genre unto itself. Consequently, it’s harder to make a movie using the basic setup stand out, and Eye See You is one of those that falls into obscurity since there are so few defining features in its rendition of the plot. Federal agent Malloy (Stallone) has been following a serial killer targeting cops, with a close friend of his being one of the victims; now his girlfriend has been killed, and the man has seemingly killed himself.

Of course, he hasn’t, and the case is closed, whereupon superior officer Hendricks (Dutton) sends him to a detox center for cops in middle-of-nowhere, Wyoming, run by Doc (Kristofferson) with the assistance of Jack (Lang) Hank (Berenger), Jenny (Walker), and Slater (Fulford); and populated by other troubled clich├ęs cops including Noah (Patrick), Jones (Vance), Jaworski (Wright), McKenzie (Prosky) and others.

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Once people start arguing and others start dying, Malloy knows what’s going on, and it’s up to a bunch of hindered and uncooperative cops to find and stop the killer. Brinkerhoff and the movie don’t stumble when offering story setups and details, but Eye See You does unravel in the wrong way as it goes on, with the earlier scenes of mystery being passable enough as paranoid introductions to the setting and story. But with the gradual expansion of scenery giving way to more action-heavy sequences that counter the purpose of the secluded setting. It’s not bad, just disappointingly average.

The Characters: With such a large cast that includes even more people than the ones mentioned, any substantial character development would either have to be selectively divvied up between a small fraction of the group or handed out in minutiae to almost everyone of note. Unfortunately, Eye See You goes the latter route with several characters given merely a single sentence of shading, and just as many others aren’t even given something as simple as a name until someone finds their body and yells it out for the audience to register.

Malloy, despite being the main character, is undercooked too. He used to be a cop but joined the feds and focuses almost entirely on this killer, much to the dismay of his colleagues. After his girlfriend was killed he developed an addiction to alcohol which stagnated his life, now spending all of his time in a bar, actively denying help from Doc and resident nurse Jenny. Those who survive long enough to get names may as well not have, since they’re all flimsy archetypes whose character traits can be surmised after one line of dialogue.

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You’ve got obvious red herrings (Noah and Jack), the love interest (Jenny), the clearly innocent one (McKenzie), the religious one (Jones), and the suspects (everyone else). Stallone is doing the heavy lifting here, with all other cast members struggling to make an impression over each other, which leads to broad performances from everyone except Stallone, who does a very good job with very little material.

The Mystery: Since there’s really only one character to speak of, Eye See You tries to make its mystery out of the lack of characters, which is daring if nothing else. As more and more cardboard cutouts are killed, those who remain get more and more suspicious of each other, with all of them eventually getting their guns back from the safe that Doc put them in and going their separate ways to try and find Jack, who goes missing.

Gillespie, in one of the few decisions that result in part of the movie not feeling like it just came off an assembly line, sticks with Malloy and Jenny for most of the search, which helps feed doubts since he doesn’t get a chance to point giant neon red blinking lights at Noah and Jack. Since their medicines have been stolen by one of the red herrings, some of the characters do start to get antsy. No one except Malloy even had an emotional place to go, which just leads those who are suffering either side effects or withdrawal symptoms to amp up the behaviour they were already exhibiting.

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In theory, the removal of pharmaceutical crutches works wonderfully, but Eye See You’s script forces the actors to spin their wheels in place. Even with the ability to rule out most of the characters, there’s a modicum of success in creating intrigue, since the characters all clash enough to inspire suspicion. It’s strictly conventional and uninspired, but there are enough suspects to summon questions.

The Technics: For all the troubles Eye See You went through, what’s presented on screen is remarkably decent. A wintry Wyoming is a solid setting for a mystery movie, and the production design for the facility is good, although extremely sparse. The score is fine, as is the direction. Another cut in the editing room would’ve done a lot for the movie though, since the dialogue often feels inconsequential thanks to frequent confrontations that mean little when the characters are back to sitting around and focusing on others’ behaviour instead of following through. In its entirety, the movie’s construction is passable but hardly memorable.

Being marred with re-shoots, recutting, and a mediocre script stops Eye See You from being good before it starts, and a colossal cast gets wasted while trying to outdo each other. Still, there are some good technical merits, a watchable mystery, and a very good performance from Stallone that doesn’t get enough praise. It’s just a shame thinking about what should’ve been.

Eye See You is available on DVD and Blu-ray from Sony Pictures. It’s available on various Digital platforms and streaming services as well. You can use JustWatch to find one in your region.

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