Eye In The Sky


Reviewed by: Angus Wolfe Murray

Eye In The Sky
"A simple idea, beautifully executed"

Take a simple idea, turn it into a synopsis, bring in writers, bring in script doctors, bring in the producer's 12-year-old daughter, mix, mix again, add a director who contributes new ideas, repeat formula - writers/script docs/family members - shoot film. It's a mess. Why? The original idea has been lost in the throng of too much collaboration.

That's what happens in Hollywood these days. Not here, thankfully. One of the qualities of this taut drama is the power of its simplicity. They stay with the programme. They don't embellish.

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Modern warfare has become technical. Boots on the ground? Maybe, but that's proved to be counter productive long term in Iraq and Afghanistan. With the use of sophisticated spy equipment and drones in the air, controlled from somewhere safer, such as another continent, you have pinpoint assassination opportunities. Collateral damage? Well, yes, but isn't that better than the prospect of another terrorist atrocity?

In this case the prospect is a suicide attack with the possibility of innocent fatalities on a frightening scale. Somewhere in Kenya there is a house where high ranking jihadists, including an English woman, prepare explosive vests for two prospective martyrs.

The eye in the sky, as well as on-site remote control camera devises, discovers everything that the decision makers in London need to know. A meeting is set up with cabinet ministers, civil servants and an army general (Alan Rickman), while in Nevada Lt Steve Watts (Aaron Paul), a virtual rookie in the kill game, awaits orders to fire the drone's missiles from British HQ, coordinated by Colonel Katherine Powell (Helen Mirren).

There is one problem. A little girl selling bread. Her stall is beside the wall of the house. If the house is destroyed she will die almost certainly. The politicians are afraid of negative propaganda. The soldiers are afraid of missing their chance. Time is of the essence.

A simple idea, beautifully executed. Mirren doesn't fit the role although stakes her claim to it with determination. Rickman, in his final appearance, has a limited amount to do, but you can tell how great he is/was by the way the General puts down a bossy female bureaucrat with the rebuke, "Never tell a soldier that he does not know the cost of war."

Is murder a weapon? Has it always been thus? Who is responsible?

Gavin Hood's film spreads the guilt and opens the debate.

Reviewed on: 04 Apr 2016
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Eye In The Sky packshot
The moral and practical outcome of a drone strike in rural Kenya is thrashed out at British HQ as an American pilot in Nevada awaits orders to fire the missiles that may cause unacceptable collateral damage
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Director: Gavin Hood

Writer: Guy Hibbert

Starring: Helen Mirren, Alan Rickman, Aaron Paul, Faisa Hassan, Phoebe Fox, Jeremy Northam, Babou Ceesay, Aisha Takow, Armaan Haggio, Richard McCabe, Monica Dolan, Iain Glen, Lex King

Year: 2015

Runtime: 102 minutes

BBFC: 15 - Age Restricted

Country: UK


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