Eye in the Sky
*** stars (out of four)
The nature of both drone warfare and the war on terror are explored at length in director Gavin Hood’s smart, effective new thriller Eye in the Sky (opening in New Orleans April 1st).
The film cuts back and forth between multiple locations around the globe. There’s the British military base where Helen Mirren coordinates surveillance of a high-value terrorist target (one of whom is a British national). There’s the Las Vegas base where two drone pilots (Aaron Paul and Phoebe Fox) do their work. There’s also the London boardroom where a general (the late, great Alan Rickman) discusses tactics with politicians. And then there’s the people on the ground in Kenya, including a local operative (Barkhad Abdi) for the Western powers. What was supposed to be a simple drone strike on a terrorist target becomes complicated when a young girl begins selling bread directly outside the building about to be bombed.
Despite the large cast of characters, the action in Eye in the Sky is always clear and appropriately tense. It captures the bureaucracy of modern warfare in a bleakly humorous way - every British politician seems to be eager to pass on the final decision of whether or not to risk the chid’s life up the ladder to someone else. The arguments of whether or not it’s worth it to kill an innocent child in order to potentially save hundreds of lives by eliminating known terrorists are also skillfully handled. The movie has a point of view, but it doesn’t make anyone into an easy villain.