Eye in the Sky

Eye in the Sky


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Morally-complex military thriller starring Oscar-winner Helen Mirren as the commander of a drone operation, tasked with capturing terrorists in Kenya only to have the whole mission turn sideways. Co-stars Alan Rickman (Harry Potter), Aaron Paul (Breaking Bad) and Oscar nominee Barkhad Abdi (Captain Phillips).... More

London-based military intelligence officer Colonel Katherine Powell (Mirren) is remotely commanding a top secret drone operation to capture a group of dangerous terrorists from their safe-house in Nairobi, Kenya. The mission suddenly escalates from a “capture” to a “kill” operation when Powell realizes that the terrorists are about to embark on a deadly suicide mission. American drone pilot Steve Watts (Paul) is poised to destroy the safe-house when a nine year old girl enters the kill zone just outside the walls of the house. With unforeseen collateral damage now entering the equation, the impossible decision of when to strike gets passed up the “kill chain” of politicians and lawyers as the seconds tick down.Hide

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Flicks Review

In Eye in the Sky, we are asked to consider the moral choices that lead Western powers to blow the bejesus out of Islamic terrorists using unmanned planes, or drones. In a twist that allows Helen Mirren and the late Alan Rickman to appear in original English flavour, the drone attack here is a British-led one. The hardware is however all American, and is ‘piloted’ by Aaron Paul (Breaking Bad’s Jesse Pinkman) from a storage unit in the Nevada desert.... More

Colonel Katherine Powell (Mirren) has been chasing a very bad man for many years and now she, via the drone, finally has her white whale in the cross hairs. He’s killed hundreds and is planning more mayhem, but just as justice is about to rain down upon the swarthy schmuck, a sweet young girl wanders into the line of fire. With the help of the ‘Eye’ we’ve been watching her play with a hula-hoop and selling flatbread just over the wall from a suicide bomb factory and the target. She’s a triple threat to our Western eyes: cute, hula-hoop friendly, and entrepreneurial.

Powell wants the ‘kill’ regardless of the collateral splatter, but General Benson (Rickman) and assorted civil servants back at HQ get into a right flap as they grapple with the ethical and career-damaging ramifications. It’s a testament to the film’s power that you find yourself dragged into the debate and struggling for an easy answer. 

While Mirren’s Colonel has no qualms, Rickman’s General is a little less convinced; it’s his granddaughter’s birthday, you see. He’s sent his aide out to buy a dolly because he’s too busy helping decide if another little girl gets turned into mince-meat. It all adds up to a classy, thrilling and seriously nail-biting experience.

Mirren is superb but Aaron Paul and Barkhad Abdi (the hijacker from Captain Phillips) sure make their presence felt. Seeing Rickman’s subtle magic, for the very last time, adds some extra special icing.Hide

The Peoples' Reviews

Average ratings from 8 ratings, 4 reviews
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BY cinemusefilm superstar

The war film genre enables us to confront the realities of war by venting our inner fears and indulging our conceits of victory. But there are many kinds of war film. Depending on theme and purpose, war films can be a hybrid of the adventure, history, drama, thriller, science fiction and even comedy genres. They have recently morphed from trench-and-tank settings to globally dispersed and armchair directed war rooms with real-time engagement resembling a video game with highly sophisticated... More and deadly accurate killing technology. Far from fantasy war, Eye in the Sky (2015) raises moral and political dilemmas that potentially touch every citizen. Can you imagine one day democratically sharing the decision to bomb a target via your iPhone?

The story unfolds over a few hours when Colonel Katherine Powell (Helen Mirren) and Lt. Col. Frank Benson (the late Alan Rickman) must convince their political masters to change a ‘capture’ to a ‘kill’ mission when they unexpectedly get the opportunity to wipe out several top ranking terrorists in Nairobi. After getting the necessary political and military approvals, a weak link opens up at the trigger pulling end of the chain of command when the soldier authorised to fire the missile sees a young girl near the kill zone. It’s a classic morality play: do you save the girl and risk losing the opportunity to eliminate several really bad people who are being fitted with suicide vests that could kill hundreds of innocents? The resulting drama appears fast-paced but is more notable for what does not happen rather than what does because buck-passing between decision-makers delays the critical moment. It’s a tense thriller matched by sharp camerawork in what feels like real-time, making the audience both witnesses and judges of the events as they happen.

Mirren and Rickman are superb in their roles. Both skilfully portray the stresses and frustrations of working between the world of the professional soldier and that of the politician. This is not your standard war film and is more about the political dynamics of how war will be waged in the future. While miniaturised beetle drones transmitting high definition video from inside Satan’s den looks more like fantasy than war science, remember that almost half a century ago similar things were said about the HAL 9000 computer in 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968). The history of Sci-Fi shows that today’s imaginings is tomorrow’s reality. So the moral dilemmas in this film are very real. Eye in the Sky stands out as both a thoroughly gripping film and a consciousness raising experience.Hide

BY Booper superstar

A total wild card for me. Went in not knowing very much about it. I was so impressed, every second was suspenseful and exciting. Great performances by all. A definite must see!

BY Ken-Burns superstar

than a war story (that is irrelevant). Level of command to go to when no one will make a big decision. That is why it was worth going to.

BY JK lister

A fascinating and balanced look at modern drone warfare. This film powerfully conveys the realities of war and the moral and political dilemmas faced when going up against an imminent threat.

Don't go in expecting high-paced action, this film sets up its premise and then delights in cranking up the suspense.

As a side-note, the older ladies next to me were definitely engaged. Had they been in charge, the targets would have been "eliminated" about 45 minutes into the film. :-)

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The Press Reviews

92% of critics recommend.
Rotten Tomatoes Score. More reviews on Rotten Tomatoes

  • Sporadically sentimental, unrealistic, and overburdened with intrusive soundtrack music. But it gets you in, and it's suspenseful, claustrophobic, and a fairly unusual take on the counter-terrorism sub-genre. Full Review

  • You'll find an intelligent, well-rounded military drama, challenging both the efficiency and ethics of modern remote-controlled warfare. Full Review

  • In the hands of gifted South African director Gavin Hood the film is a smart, graphic and disturbing thriller, with a clear eye for the fault lines of modern warfare. Full Review

  • A grim, suspenseful farce in which unpredictable human behavior repeatedly threatens an operation of astounding technological sophistication. Full Review

The Talk
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