Eye In The Sky — Peter Fitzgerald Reviews

Using modern-day drone warfare as its backdrop, Eye In The Sky skillfully examines the tough military and political arguments in the fight against terrorism, and the ensuing psychological toll inherent to murder by remote.

This highly emotional and disturbing film takes place in the course of a day, and concerns one such drone strike in a multi-national action lead by British Col. Katherine Powell, played with steely conviction by Helen Mirren and Lt. General Frank Benson (the late, lamented Alan Rickman) who have pinpointed the Kenya location of four top terrorists they intend to capture.

But, when the military learns that these terrorists — two Brits, one American and several Africans are about to unleash a suicide attack on the public, the mission switches from capture to kill. Soon they discover that a nine-year old girl has settled in the kill zone. Thus, a juggernaut of a second act ensues involving an international clash between top level U.S. and British officials who haggle over the moral and sadly, the political consequences of possibly taking the kid out with the trash.

Meanwhile, two rookie drone operators stationed in Las Vegas, Steve Watts played with heart-attack seriousness by Aaron Paul and Carrie Gershon (Phoebe Fox,) wrestle with their consciences about deploying hellfire missiles that may well blow an innocent girl to smithereens while the forces behind the attacks parry and thrust using reason, anger and tears to determine the outcome.

Here, Mirren’s Col. Powell (really, writers?) goes to work gerrymandering the facts about the hellfire’s blast radius in order to meet her ends, proving that she might have been the screen’s greatest Lady Macbeth — bar none. The film is sadly, the final testament to the genius of Alan Rickman, who conveys warlord Lt. General Benson as a multifaceted soldier of certainty and sadness to a pitch of perfection. But ultimately, Watts bears the full weight of pushing the button, as any human being would.

Never before has a narrative film examined the drone war against terrorism with such emotional weight and detail, leaving one with a nagging suspicion that the West’s continued engagement with terrorism may ultimately lead to lapses in judgement that will put the U.S. and Brittain in danger of becoming terrorists in kind.