Eye in the Sky
Legality, morality and hard judgement calls are the key underpinnings of this drone thriller that ultimately asks us the question: do 80 lives matter more than that of one innocent child?
Helen Mirren performs one of her fiercest roles yet as no-nonsense Colonel Katherine Powell, in charge of a military operation to capture radicalised English terrorists aligned with Islamic extremist group Shabab in Nairobi. After six years of hard work her target is in sight, along with three other terrorists on the US top five wanted list. The pressure to act is on and the situation quickly devolves when the targets move to a location local forces cannot enter and a shoot to kill drone strike is proposed.
It’s here the true tension begins as Col Powell’s request is tied up by indecisive politicians debating legal and political repercussions in a boardroom, led by Alan Rickman as world-weary Lieutenant General, Frank Benson. The strike is eventually approved but then drone pilot Steve Watts (Aaron Paul) spots a child selling bread in the kill radius. Further debates ensue with each official too afraid to make the difficult decision, instead pushing things further up the chain of command in a darkly comedic farce.
Director Gavin Hood strikes a solid balance between the boardrooms and ground action while Guy Hibbert’s screenplay pulls at our heart strings and ethical convictions, highlighting the clear contrast between the sometimes brutal efficiency of military personnel and wary political buffs. The dialogue is a little too on-the-nose at times but, delivered by such heavyweights as the late Alan Rickman and Helen Mirren, it is given due credence.
The moral complexity of drone warfare is without doubt one of our greatest generational dilemmas, and while Eye in the Sky doesn’t dwell on the politics or criticisms of drone strikes per se, its plot comes off as a little trite, being that its conflict is centred solely on the presence of a child. It nonetheless succeeds in delving into the very human responses to life-and-death decisions and the minds of the people who are forced to make them.
Eye in the Sky is released nationwide on 15th April 2016.
Watch the trailer for Eye in the Sky here: