Eavesdropper (2004)

by | Feb 21, 2006 | DVD & Blu-ray Video Reviews | 0 comments

Eavesdropper (2004)

Starring: Lucy Jenner, Costas Mandylor, John De Lancie, George Takei, Tucker Smallwood, John J. York
Director: Andrew Bakalar
Studio: Freestyle Home Entertainment
Video: 1.85:1 Enhanced for Widescreen 16:9
Audio: Dolby Digital D 5.1
Subtitles: Spanish
Extras: Theatrical Trailer, Director’s Commentary, Exclusive Behind-the-Scenes Footage
Length: 97 minutes
Rating: ****

Eavesdropper takes the concept of audio surveillance to a whole new level. Eavesdropper, with a pseudoscientific premise around the producing of mind hearing and mind hearers, delivers a turbulent fast-paced plot with plenty of edge-of-seat danger and intrigue. The box notes refer to “shocking true events” but it is never clear what is true and what isn’t in regard to advanced hearing research reported to having been conducted by the government. In this film there’s an awful lot of willing suspension of disbelief that has to happen, but this is a sci-fi thriller (including two Star Trek regulars), not a documentary.

To summarize the plot, in a senseless street attack by an unknown assailant, Liza (Lucy Jenner) loses her hearing and her fiance, his life. As a dreamlike sequence unfolds, Liza has been in a transitional shelter for six months. Her kind and handsome social worker, Grant, (John J. York) has taken a special interest in Liza and helped her in obtaining a somewhat ineffective hearing aid. Meanwhile two doctors at the Center for Hearing Research are being pressured to begin human clinical trials by Aiden Porter, a Liasion Officer for Scientific Projects with the Department of Defense, who we eventually learn is a former rogue CIA agent. It’s obvious to us he’s a baddy as soon as we meet him. 

Though the rats died in the animal trials,  Dr. Kramer and Dr. Hsieh foolishly succumb to the pressure to launch their first human clinical trials with 15 deaf patients including the unsuspecting Liza.  George Takei (Sulu in Star Trek) and John De Lancie (Q in Star Trek: Next Generation) are featured as the two unethical research doctors.

Genetically engineered cells introduced via an I-V to replace the damaged cells lead to horrific consequences–psychosis and death–in all of the human subjects except Liza whose hearing expands, not only to ten times the normal range, but to an ability to hear the thoughts of others, word for word. One can   imagine the personal and global implications of such an ability.  For a while Liza reads minds of potential terrorists at airports, a psychotic teenager who has placed bombs around his high school, a serial killer unwilling to reveal where the bodies are buried, etc. But life gets much more difficult and complicated for Liza in dangerous ways.

A few final observations:  I found the tense scenes between Dr. Kramer and Porter edge-of-the-seat material, as well as the power struggle between Porter and the corrupt General Humes, who was excited by this “quantum leap in espionage.” The story covers a period of months and the passage of time is well- conveyed. The ending contains a surprising twist we do not anticipate and leaves open the possibility of an Eavesdropper II.  There are some scenes of violence that are startling and graphic but not gratuitous.  The use of  the audio for the “mind hearing” sequences is very well done. An original and gripping tale, and highly recommended for sci-fi fans.

First time director/writer Andrew Bakalar makes interesting observations in his commentary regarding the making of his film, the actors, his opinions, references to classified information on which the film is reportedly based,  etc. In winding up this review, I googled Andrew Bakalar and found some startling information regarding the filmmaker. He is reported to be missing since the making of the film about one year ago. The whereabouts of the sole survivor of the research is also unknown.

-Donna Dorsett

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