A military officer in command of an operation to capture terrorists in Kenya sees her mission escalate when a young girl enters the kill zone, triggering an international dispute over the implications of modern warfare.
Watching Eye In The Sky, I couldn’t help but be reminded of Andrew Niccols’ Good Kill, the Ethan Hawke-led drama about a Vegas-based drone pilot who begins to question the ethics of his job and subsequently his moral grounding. Eye In The Sky uses that same ethical conundrum as the basis for its characters but presents the implications with further clarity as we dart between government officials, military generals and field operatives all around the world who are faced with a crucial, morally-defining situation: can they blow up a house in which they can literally see terrorists strapping on suicide vests if it runs the chance of killing innocent bystanders – chiefly, a young girl selling bread?
An unenviable decision if there ever was one, and the film works so well because 1: despite the solemnity and reality of the situation, it isn’t afraid to have fun with itself, as dashes of unexpected yet perfectly-judged humour lace the escalating plot at the satirical expense of government officials incapable of making decisions in their job description (“I’ll have to escalate this further” etc.); and 2: more importantly, it grounds all of the thrills and armrest-clutching tension (no hyperbole) with important tidings about the realities of modern warfare without being mawkish. The moral grey areas of our protagonists are on full display as the film asks them to define themselves, then subsequently asks the same of the audience. However unintentionally, you’ll make a decision, like that flashing thought when you want to see the coin come up one side more than the other, and it may even come to define something about yourself. That’s what good storytelling does.
Eye In The Sky is the kind of film that’s really worth seeing in the cinema, not for its visual splendour, but simply because it’s a real old-school nail-biter. The contrivances are subjugated by some important messages and taught, well-crafted thrills, and the strong ensemble gives the whole thing real heft. Never has the number of loaves of bread left on a table resulted in so much tension.
Director: Gavin Hood; Screenwriter: Guy Hibbert; Starring: Helen Mirren, Alan Rickman, Aaron Paul, Barkhad Abdi, Pheobe Fox; Running time: 102 minutes; Certification: 15