Eye in the Sky – Blu-ray Edition

eye in the sky blu rayModern warfare and national defense is something that is completely beyond the scope of most of us.  Basically we have no idea what is going on.  The waters are completely murky.  It is Fifty Shades of Grey of a different sorts.

 

Colonel Katherine Powell (Helen Mirren – The Queen, Trumbo) is a woman in a man’s world.  Meaning she is high up in the British military.  Her job, which is all encompassing and oftentimes gets her out of bed before the birds, for the past six years has been tracking British citizen Susan Danford (Lex King – from television’s Dominion), who has become radicalized and joined the deadly Al-Shabaab terrorist group.  On this day she has received intel from the Kenyans of where she and other high ranking members of the group are going to be.  The original goal is to storm the house they are all in and capture the British citizen, a young American citizen and a couple of other dangerous members.  Colonel Powell is running point on the mission under the watch of Lieutenant General Frank Benson (Alan Rickman – Die Hard, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 2).

The British not only have the help of the Kenyan military, but the Americans are in on it.  The Americans, in the form of two drone pilots, are helping out by being the mission’s eye in the sky.  Since it is set to be a storm and capture operation there is no worry that the two Americans controlling the drone, Carrie (Phoebe Fox – One Day) and Steve (Aaron Paul – from television’s Breaking Bad), are fairly inexperienced.

 

Once a small surveillance bug operated by undercover Kenyan Jama Farah (Barkhad Abdi – Captain Phillips) reveals that those in the safe house are planning a suicide bombing the mission changes from capture to kill.  This change requires permission from higher ups on the American and British sides.  The Americans are, without hesitation, all in.  It is the Brits that are holding up this time sensitive mission.  Lieutenant General Benson finds himself in a room with several senior ministers – Angela Northman (Monica Dolan – Kick-Ass 2, Never Let Me Go), Brian Woodale (Jeremy Northam – The Net, Gosford Park) and George Matherson (Richard McCabe – Notting Hill, Cinderella – 2015) – and the Foreign Secretary James Willet (Iain Glen – from television’s Game of Thrones) on video link arguing for permission to carry out the kill.  To further make this a difficult decision a young girl selling bread is now within the kill zone.  Time is of the issue, as they have to carry out the drone bombing before the terrorists leave, and no one seems to want to take responsibility of making the call.

 

Despite the fact that much of modern military takes place from faraway places whether it is a drone or through video surveillance there is still the human element involved.  Humans have to make the call to bomb and humans have to launch those missiles from unmanned drones.  Collateral damage is usually in play and so the decision of whether the possible death of a few outweighs that of many has to be made time and time again.

 

It is the process of making that heavy decision that creates all the tension in Gavin Hood’s (X-Men Origins: Wolverine, Ender’s Game) film.  It is a game of will they or won’t they and who will die in the process because no matter the decision there will be death(s).  As you sit on the edge of your seat wondering what is going to come of all of this several issues are brought to light.  How incredible modern day technology has become is illustrated in Eye in the Sky.  Besides the whole drone thing and the fact that you can place unmanned planes in the sky that can carry out bombings and possess cameras so strong that you can see what is happening on the ground from 20,000 miles up, the tiny (in this film there is a flying one the size of an insect) surveillance devices are incredible.  Privacy is not something there is much of in this world.

 

Besides all this technology and bird’s eye view into modern military operations there is the human element and that is ably portrayed by the talented largely British cast.  Though this is a military film it is dialogue heavy and despite that there is nary a dull moment within the film’s 102 minutes and that is largely due to the actors.  There is the center of the film in the always wonderful Helen Mirren.  She injects just the right amount of steely nature and humanity into her character.  It is a sad moment every time the great Alan Rickman is on the screen as you know this was his last film.  Blessed with that one of a kind voice there has been precious few other actors who silently conveys disgust and eye rolls better than this guy.  Those two skills serve him well with this character.  Then there is new kid on the block and former Oscar nominee Abdi, a capable of a wide variety of emotions Paul and the where has he been Northam to round out the cast.

Moral conundrums and chilling moments abound in Eye in the Sky.  As the viewer you have to juggle them all at the same time to come up with how you feel about it all.  It is a war film without all the usual battle scenes, CGI and gore.  This is a picture of modern warfare.  Decisions are being made long distances away from the place of battle.  A compelling and thought provoking moral tale with no satisfying answer that is not like any film out there now.

Special Features:

-Digital Copy

  • Featurettes:
    • Morals
    • Perspectives

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