Director: Gavin Hood
Starring: Helen Mirren, Aaron Paul, Alan Rickman, Barkhad Abdi, Phoebe Fox, Jeremy Northam, Monica Dolan
Written by: Guy Hibbert
Running Time: 102 mins
Release date: 15th April 2016
There are not many films when a scene involving buying bread can have you literally gripping your armrest, yet this is one of many treats that await you when watching this heart-stopping, emotionally pulsating drama that will question you about war and the decisions everyone has to make from the top of the line to the one pulling the trigger. It also is the last film from a giant of the cinema, that makes it even more emotional.
Colonel Katherine Powell is in charge of a mission to track down and bring in terrorists in Kenya. From her bunker in England, she is in connection with Whitehall, where Lieutenant General Frank Benson and ministers are watching events unfold, as well as passing orders to American drone pilot Steve Watts, who is flying the surveillance craft which is filming where the terrorists are supposed to be, while on the ground, African soldiers await the green light to capture. Things get out of hand quickly and the capture mission soon turns into a kill mission, where the wrong decision could cost an unnecessary life.
Director Gavin Hood and screenwriter Guy Hibbert use the current use of drones and terrorism to full effect, starting off with a simple example of how something thousands of miles up in the sky can pinpoint, with amazing accuracy, something on ground level. This should be shocking enough but the film kicks into gear when several events occur that start throwing out moral dilemmas. It then becomes apparent that decisions are not made lightly and even the man who is pulling the trigger, someone very low in the chain of command, can make a difference.
As you can tell, I don’t want to give too much away because the less you know, the more gripping and shocking it becomes, as order after order is passed down the chain, halting every so often because one person needs someone else to make that decision. It is a world of bureaucratic buck-passing, as responsibilities are passed around and no one wants to make the wrong decision.
At the heart is Colonel Katherine Powell, a strong, cold-hearted woman who has a job to do and whose focus is on that mission. Nothing else matters. Yet she cannot do a thing unless she gets permission from the many involved, so her frustration levels rise. As Powell, Helen Mirren is magnificent, with her cold-steel attitude of a woman who has seen everything, done everything and has only got to the position is in by coping with situations like this.
Hidden in a bunker in Las Vegas, Aaron Paul and Phoebe Fox play the soldiers with their finger on the trigger and who, when that order comes in, have to execute, actions that they both know they will have to live with. There’s are the emotional heart of the film, as both are virginal to perform a shoot to kill operation. What makes this film even more emotional is this would turn out to be Alan Rickman’s final performance. As Lieutenant General Frank Benson, he brings some well-needed light relief as well as having a command on every scene he appears in. It’s as poignant a performance as you could get but at the same time, we get to see him doing what he does best: scene stealing.
Eye In The Sky is simply magnificent. Gripping, tense and shocking, it is relentless in its mission to crank up the tension. Just when you think you can sit back and relax, another turn of the screw makes you chew into another fingernail. It will also have you questioning about the use of drones and the morals of war. Compelling and completely relevant, it is a film that demands your attention and hopefully you will give it. You won’t be disappointed.