With the ongoing War on Terror, everyone is trying to come up with a bright solution. To quote Rolling Stone critic Peter Travers, “Eye in the Sky asks a provocative question: Does conscience still figure in modern warfare?” Director Gavin Hood (X-Men Origins: Wolverine, Ender’s Game) gives the audience more than just your standard war film. He handles the issue with care, kudos to his excellent direction and Guy Hibbert’s sharp screenplay.
Col. Katherine Powell (Dame Helen Mirren) is a British military officer in command of a secret drone mission. The people who are involved include Lt. General Frank Benson (Alan Rickman), U.S. pilot Steve Watts (Aaron Paul), and Kenyan field agent Jama Farah (Barkhad Abdi). They are planning to capture a Kenyan terrorist group.
When Powell discovers two of the terrorists planning a suicide bombing, she sends out Watts to take them out. As Watts is about to engage, a nine-year-old girl (Aisha Takow) enters the killing zone (without her becoming aware of it) selling bread. This causes a dispute between the U.S. and U.K. governments as they try to make a decision as fast they possible can.
Unlike his previous films, Hood allows the audience to think as well as hanging on the edge of their seats with his outlook on the war. With a $4 million budget, the movie primarily takes place in London, Las Vegas, and Nairobi, Kenya. He uses limited amount of CGI with modern warfare technology such as drones in disguise of birds and beetles. Eye in the Sky is more about the debate of modern warfare and risking the lives of Kenyan civilians.
The performances all-around are excellent. Mirren brings enough confidence and fierce energy as opposed to letting a male actor play the role as originally intended. With most of the movie taking place watching surveillance of the situation, there is one agent that is actually on the ground aware on what is going. He is trying to get the girl out of harm’s way. In his first role after Captain Phillips, Barkhad Abdi plays the Farah brilliantly. In his last performance before passing away early this year from pancreatic cancer, Alan Rickman is definitely worth the price alone (especially in an early scene in which he buys a doll for his daughter). He embraces the issue with such dignity once he starts watching the surveillance (given he has contributed to the war for a number of years). This is the finest moment of his career. Rickman will surely be missed.
Eye in the Sky is what Batman vs. Superman isn’t: a suspenseful, intelligent, thoughtful political thriller. Go see it in theaters and strap in for one hell of a thrill ride!