Yesterday I had the chance to see the new political thriller Eye in the Sky and it’s a tough movie to review because I was engrossed throughout but I left not really buying what it was selling. Let me explain. .
Eye in the Sky focuses on the many characters that come into play in the decision to make a ‘precision missile strike’ from a drone plane on a terrorist cell in Kenya. Some of the key players are:
- Colonel Katherine Powell (Helen Mirren)- British military intelligence who has been hunting down these terrorists for many months.
- Lieutenant General Frank Benson (Alan Rickman)- British general who is in England brokering the different voices there
- Lieutenant Steve Watts (Aaron Paul)- USAF drone pilot out of Las Vegas
- Jama Farah (Captain Phillips‘ Barkhad Abdi)- Kenyan undercover agent
- An array of other voices- cabinet members, Secretary of States, Prime Minister, legal counsel, foreign secretary, and a woman in Hawaii who has cool facial recognition software.
These characters must work together to realize the threat, calculate the risks, and execute the attack. Colonel Powell has discovered the 3rd and 4th most wanted North Africans are meeting together in a house in a dangerous part of Kenya. She hopes to do away with the suspects so they are no longer a threat to the Kenyan people.
They must have facial recognition so they send in a little bug camera which is operated by undercover agent Jama Farah played by Barkhad Abdi in a solid performance. Through the video they find the group is arming themselves for suicide bombings right then and there. This makes it imperative the situation be turned from a capture to kill operation.
The problem for Helen Mirren’s character is this requires a million approvals. Will they get away before the bureaucrats can make up their mind? That’s the big question and tension of the film. Alan Rickman is very good as her main touchpoint with London and the voice of the military in that discussion.
Things then get even more complicated when a little girl sets up shop outside of the house to sell bread for her family. They try to buy all the bread but it breaks Farah’s cover and they must decide whether a risk to her life is worth taking these terrorists out. Aaron Paul as the trigger man in Las Vegas is good as he stands up to the Colonel not wanting to kill the little girl.
The script by Guy Hibbert builds tension very well and the acting is great from all involved. However, like I said above I don’t know if I bought everything it was selling. It seemed a little propagandaish. Like I was being presented with the best possible situation for this type of operation. It felt like a way to say ‘see friends look how careful we are…’. Like a slickly made PR push for drone strikes.
I am sure there are strikes that are as painstakingly decided upon as the one depicted, but it all felt a little too perfect. There is one woman who is the opposition voice in the discussions and she is given some good dialogue. I like her pointing out that a suicide bomber killing a crowd of people doesn’t make UK look bad but them taking out a little girl does. There is a sick and twisted reality to that comment.
But even the way her character was resolved felt a little too preachy. I can tell you one thing my liberal friends will hate this movie. If you hated American Sniper than you’ll hate this. Both films show the new brand of warfare, but I personally felt Sniper told Chris Kyle’s story from his POV in a compelling way.
Anyway, I wouldn’t say don’t see Eye in the Sky because it is very well done. But I guess just try to enjoy it as fun entertainment and not a realistic political/military portrayal. If you can take it with a grain of salt than you’ll probably really enjoy it.
Also, this movie should not be rated R. Some of the swears must be background swears or mumbled because I didn’t hear them and the violence is not anything you don’t see on 24 or other shows. Either way, it’s extremely tame R rating. I can think of so many PG-13 movies that are WAY worse as far as content.
Overall Grade- B-
Content Grade- B+
My youtube review-