Eye in the Sky
“Eye in the Sky” starring Dame Helen Mirren (my wife in a previous life) is a current day military officer named Colonel Katherine Powell. She is an established tough minded officer who early one morning from her home gets word ground intelligence has had a sighting of a long pursued British-born woman who has converted to Islam and moved to Africa to become an active radical terrorist.
Expeditiously, Powell gets dressed in her uniform and arrives at her North of London base of operation where she is in command of a top secret joint American drone operation to capture terrorists hiding and operating in Africa. But upon her arrival at the bunker operation new updated remote surveillance intelligence that is corroborated with on-the-ground intelligence, reveals her target is now planning to strike with massive suicide bombings that is about to occur very, very soon.
Powell quickly discerns her initial mission has moved from a simple raid of capture and extradition to now an escalated operation for a potential “kill" order. But just when the order is given early on to move away from a capture to now engaging the enemy with a targeted missile strike, Nevada based American drone pilot Steve Watts (Aaron Paul) discovers an innocent civilian nine-year old girl has entered the kill zone radius. This dilemma of civilian casualties immediately triggers an array of moral, ethical, military, strategic, legal and technical disputes and questions between all level of higher ups encompassing the entire globe in both the US and British levels of government. This leaves Colonel Powell in a ticking clock lurch for an immediate answer to her dire and urgent question which is to either kill or not kill before the loss of life of hundreds of innocent civilians.
REVIEW: Initially the decision seems to be an easy call by obtaining the necessary approval from the British higher-ups to letting the Americans take out the terrorists. But Director Gavin Hood raises legitimate questions with real hair raising tensions that is heightened by the robust verbal exchange of probative questions and answers that are jousted about by the respective layers of authoritative decisions makers from room to room, phone to phone and hotel to hotel all in an intricate weave of various foreign locals.
“Eye in the Sky” has an excellent and smartly executed screenplay that is strongly rooted in modern warfare lingo as well as political and lawyer speak. What hampers it somewhat from being a perfect film is that the same well written dialogue sometimes felt like it went over and over some of the same areas of concerns for purely manipulative exaggerated melodrama affect whereas to embellish the emotional and moral quandary as to “what should we do”.
There is no escaping the narrow undercurrent of the films political vein that runs through its plot, but it’s impact is minimum as it never really gets in the way of the films overall strength and goal of projecting gripping intrigue. “Eye in the Sky” is a thoroughly engaging, riveting and provocative drama, bathed quite believably in real time strategic intelligence of what, when and how decisions are made every second of the day as we civilians unknowingly go about our routine days more preoccupied with texting, eating ice cream at the mall and going to the movies.
Ultimately, “Eye” is solidly sober and solidly sharp about the nature of global threats we read and hear about every day, but sometimes soon forget when something minimally comes along to take our thoughts away from the gloomy aftermath of death and destruction. It also showcases very well the quiet and stealthy crucial role western societies must constantly be vigilant in gathering intelligence as the critical means of helping those officials and officers into making the right and tough decisions that always seems to intersect at the crossroads of security, legalities and ethics.
But the larger message of the film was so eloquently stated by the fine and late British Actor Alan Rickman when he says……..”Once the decision is made, no one ever gets to question a soldier the cost of war”.
3 – 3/4 Stars