From director Gavin Hood (Tsotsi, Rendition) comes the gripping drama/thriller Eye in the Sky, starring British acting royalty Helen Mirren and Alan Rickman, alongside support from Aaron Paul and Barkhad Abdi. The film circles around the events of a top secret drone mission taking place in Nairobi, Kenya.
Leading the joint mission, with aid from the U.S. is Lt. Katherine Powell (Mirren), whom with her team are looking into the presence of some of the most wanted terrorists in Africa, in order to capture and interrogate. With intel that suggests three of the top 10 from the most wanted list are going to be in the same building, recruiting youngsters into committing acts of terrorism, they soon discover they’ve stumbled into a potential suicide bomb threat. Using the drone technology at their disposal they swiftly move from a capture mission, to a shoot to kill mission. Preventing Lt. Powell from taking action however is the presence of a young girl selling bread in the missile impact zone. With the girl in danger of being a casualty of the attach, the moral implications and repercussion of their preferred course of action comes into question. With time against them, the military and political leaders involved must come to a decision before there targets get away, and terrorist attacks committed.
Eye in the Sky is easily one of the most refreshing and tightly wound thrillers in years. Instead of getting an exhaustive globe trekking thriller that meanders back and forth from country to country, and set piece to set piece, we have a wonderfully constructed film that centres entirely around one mission. Keeping the narrative moving at attention grabbing pace is the movement between the various parties involved in the mission. We have Lt. Powell controlling from a HQ in Britain, her superior Lt. General Frank Benson (Rickman) is with political and legal aides overseeing the operation who have the deciding yes or no, the U.S. air-force personnel piloting the drones, as well those on the ground at the heart of the potential attack in Nairobi.
As the film seamlessly weaves from one point to another the tension builds and builds, with the mission escalating every minute until the finale. And where events stall due to political hurdles and legal stumbling blocks, you feel the same frustration as the characters involved in the process. It’s no surprise, with the calibre of acting talent in the film, that everybody is on the top of their game, even as they all share screen time throughout. Eye in the Sky is not your typical war thriller or drama, action is minimal as the films focus is exploring the morality of modern warfare. Thankfully cases are made for the differing points of view, not just in dialogue but in what takes place as well. In addition to this not only does the story opt to show the movement behind the scenes, it also takes the time to get a glimpse into the life of the little girl and her family who have unknowingly become a part of an international mission against terrorism.
Eye in the Sky is a well crafted, narratively fluid film that keeps you on the edge of your seat without the need for extravagant action sequences. It may not be a bombastic send off for the beloved Alan Rickman, but it’s a film to be proud of and is the perfect remedy to a year packed full of superhero mash-ups, and blockbusters.