Hot Take: An intense, compelling test of your moral compass. Eye in the Sky puts you through the ringer and doesn’t let anyone off the hook, especially the viewer.
For a dialogue-heavy film about drone warfare, Eye in the Sky moves at an unexpectedly frenetic pace. It drops so many moral and ethical dilemmas in your lap, it adds a layer of depth to the white-knuckled thriller you rarely see. As all sides weigh in, you’ll likely find someone to agree and disagree with and they might even be the same character. It’s well-rounded, even handed and ambiguous with imagery that will stick with you.
The film takes us inside a “capture” mission using drone technology for surveillance that turns to a “kill” mission when it is discovered the targets being watched are planning a suicide bombing. The decision to move from “capture” to “kill” is debated and the predominant focus of the film that is further complicated by the possible loss of an innocent life, a young girl selling bread on the street directly outside of the house where the terrorists are readying for their mission.
Where Eye in the Sky succeeds most transparently is in casting. Helen Mirren stars as Colonel Katherine Powell, a British military member who has been on the hunt for a British national turned terrorist. Alan Rickman (in his last live action role — his voice appears in Alice Through the Looking Glass) is Lt. General Frank Benson, Powell’s commanding officer. Aaron Paul is the U.S. Air Force drone pilot Steve Watts. All three shine in their roles. In addition to the main players, the supporting cast also delivers strong performances, as well. Most notably, Barkhad Abdi (as a Kenyan undercover agent) and Aisha Takow as Alia, the young girl at the center of the “capture” to “kill” mission debate as she is the collateral damage of concern.
Writer Guy Hibbert and director Gavin Hood present every side of the argument in a way that it’s hard to disagree with anyone’s point of view even if it’s not the avenue you would choose. Add to that the ethical dilemma of using drones in surveillance and when is it ok to use them to attack? There are no easy answers and Eye in the Sky never once let’s anyone think there’s an easy solution. Even after the film ends, you might still be asking yourself what is the acceptable price to pay to stop a terrorist attack? Like a drone, Eye in the Sky takes a 10,000 foot view of the moral and ethical dilemmas of modern warfare and watches without disturbing and, like a see-saw, makes sure to drop a brick on each side of the argument to keep the mental teeter-totter from going to one side.
“Spoiler Free” Pros
- Riveting Performances
The entire cast turns in excellent performances. While Mirren and Rickman shine, the complimentary pieces enhance their performances and make them stronger throughout. The majority of the film feels like a stage play with the surveillance visuals adding the tension.
- The Pace
Eye in the Sky has the pedal to floor when it comes to tension and it never takes it’s foot off. The movie never drags and there are multiple layers to assess and process that despite very little happening, so much happens.
- Emotionally Gut-wrenching
Yet another credit to the actors, each performer takes you through their own emotional battles as the debates get heated and no one wants to pull the trigger on a decision.
“Spoiler Free” Cons
- Your Tolerance For Talking vs. Action
If you’re not a fan of films that choose dialogue over action, Eye in the Sky may not be for you.