Eye in the Sky Review

eye in the skyYesterday 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:

  1. Colonel Katherine Powell (Helen Mirren)- British military intelligence who has been hunting down these terrorists for many months.
  2. Lieutenant General Frank Benson (Alan Rickman)- British general who is in England brokering the different voices there
  3. Lieutenant Steve Watts (Aaron Paul)- USAF drone pilot out of Las Vegas
  4. Jama Farah (Captain Phillips‘ Barkhad Abdi)- Kenyan undercover agent
  5. 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.

eye in the sky3They 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.

eye in the sky2Things 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.

eye in teh sky4The 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-

Woman in Gold Review

woman in gold3Ah the movie that might have been…Sometimes a movie has such potential which is then squandered by bad writing and acting.  For instance, Disney’s Brother Bear frustrates me to no end because it had potential and then it makes one bad choice after another.  Unfortunately Woman in Gold is another such movie.  The true story at its core could have been a good movie but instead we get a tedious poorly acted melodrama.

It is the story of Maria Altmann who fought to reclaim the painting of her aunt by Gustav Klimit called Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer which was stolen from her family by the Nazis.

woman in gold4Old Altmann is played by Helen Mirren who does what she can with the bland role and script but we never see any uniqueness to her character, anything that feels authentic or real.  Instead she is just a victim we feel sorry for but don’t really get to know .

Ryan Reynolds plays her friends son  Randy Schoenberg who she hires as her attorney.  He has a wife and new baby and a new spot in a firm so taking on a side case with a long shot request is a risk.  Again this sounds interesting but Reynolds is really bad.  I didn’t buy him for a second in the part and he was completely flat except for when he had to get emotional but even that seemed to come out of the blue.

WOMAN IN GOLDI think a little more of a serious actor like a James McEvoy might have worked better.  I kept feeling like Reynolds was going to bust out laughing and instead he just rattles off legalize about the case.  He really was bad..

woman in gold2

Katie Holmes plays his wife and she’s beautiful but a terrible actress and Tatiana Maslany plays the younger Maria who flees Austria with her husband.  The flashback scenes go on way too long and it is all stuff we have seen before and not a lot of tension because we already know that they made it to America.  I actually nodded off for a few minutes I was so bored with the bad guys chasing the innocents around Vienna.

Then we get some courtroom scenes that I felt I had seen a hundred times and were completely predictable. They even make it to the Supreme Court and hmmm I wonder if she loses and all the effort was for not?

WOMAN IN GOLDA movie with a predictable ending is fine (for goodness sakes I just praised the Longest Ride) but I have to like the characters or the writing is sharp or something for me to latch on to.  At least in Longest Ride the couples had chemistry and it wasn’t trying to be all deep and meaningful just a dopey romance.  This has airs of an important movie but it fails in nearly every respect.

woman in gold5Helen Mirren is good and it is shot adequately but honestly I was bored and I normally don’t use the B word in my reviews.  I feel terrible about what happened to Altmann and her family but this movie isn’t the tribute they deserved.

In those annoying paragraphs at the end of the movie telling you about the rest of their lives we learn that Altmann gave most of the money to charities and the paintings are on display in New York.  That sounds much more interesting than a court procedural squabbling with Austria.

Sometimes I also felt that the movie treats the ‘bad guys’ at the Austrian government as if they are on the same level as the actual Nazis shown in the flashback sequences.  That’s a little ridiculous.  They want to keep a painting not murder 7 million innocent citizens.  I’m not saying Maria’s cause isn’t just because it is but the movie could have given some nuance to the Austrians.

No real content problems aside from some mean Nazis  and 1 f bomb but that’s about it.

Overall Grade- C- just for Mirren and a worthy story at its core. Content Grade- A-