“Eye in the Sky” (2016)
Running Time: 102 minutes
Directed by Gavin Hood
Featuring: Helen Mirren, Alan Rickman, Aaron Paul, Jeremy Northam, Barkhad Abdi
Lt. General Frank Benson: Never tell a soldier that he does not know the cost of war.
This is the second film to arrive about the use of drones in conflicts and the way in which these machines while being cold are being controlled by people who have to live with the consequences of their actions. The first film being the Andrew Niccol directed and Ethan Hawke starring “Good Kill” (2014) which followed a drone pilot and the missions he has to fly, while being engaging it was passionless and did not maintain its story well throughout the running time – it was a disappointment at the time and has been quickly forgotten.
On the other hand “Eye in the Sky” which is fundamentally about the same thing takes its cues from the people controlling the missions and to a lesser extent (and less believably) the pilots themselves. Set mostly in “real time” we start the day with Colonel Katherine Powell (Helen Mirren) who is in charge of an operation to capture terrorists in Kenya using a combination of drone surveillance, troops on the ground and local agents using some pretty nifty gadgets.
It becomes apparent over the course of the film that capturing the terrorists is not going to be an option for reasons I will not reveal – we then see a pretty serious decisions being made and whilst the Colonel is 100% certain of the action, the politicians involved are not so sure and continually pass the buck all the way to the very top of the English establishment.
The cast is deep and has a lot of experience and they all pull their roles off expertly, particularly Mirren who is currently in a great part of her career – any part she plays she seems to have the authenticity every time. The other standouts are Barkhad Abdi the Oscar Nominated actor from Captain Phillips (2013) who proves he is pretty great actor with a lot of range and I cannot wait to see how his career progresses and finally Alan Rickman in his last role plays an elder statesman in the English Military who has to walk a fine line between his own officers and the politicians which he serves.
Whilst not a perfect film it is a welcome return by director Gavin Hood who after bursting on the scene with ‘Tsotsi” (2005) then was lured by Hollywood to make two very disappointing big budget misfires “X-Men Origins: Wolverine” (2008) and “Enders Game” (2013) has returned to a vert much African story and succeeds hugely with a very realistic story – the only weakness really is the Amercian segment with Aaron Paul and Phoebe Fox as the drone pilots, but this is necessary for the plot to progress.
This is a film that is very good and succeeds all round – I recommend this highly – out now!