If the government has a chance to take out high profile terrorists, should it take the shot? That’s the question asked in Director Gavin Hood’s “Eye in the Sky.”
The movie takes place at a few different locations, a command center with Colonel Katherine Powell (Helen Mirren), a government meeting room with Lieutenant General Frank Benson (Alan Rickman), a drone operating room with pilot Steve Watts (Aaron Paul) and an on the ground unit with the spy Jama Farah (Barkhad Abdi).
In basic terms, the movie plays out like a game of ping pong. Military personnel locate a house in Kenya housing potential suicide bombers and plan to strike the target.
However, there happens to be a young girl selling bread nearby who could be collateral damage. As a result, the movie becomes a back and forth between military and government officials to decide on what the next move should be.
There are certainly some thrilling moments in “Eye in the Sky” and its a picture that can put an audience on the edge of their seat. From the spy work, to calculating the damage of a drone strike and the decision to pull the trigger, each of these sequences are built up and filmed in a way to get the most suspense.
For the most part, these scenes and even some of the dialogue delivered by Rickman and Mirren do lead to a compelling drama.
With that said, “Eye in the Sky” does run into a few problems. As previously stated, the movie plays out like a game of ping pong, with the decision going to multiple government officials, and while this worked for the first act in a ‘race against time’ kind of way, it also started to feel repetitive after as time passed.
In fact, I would have liked for the strike to happen midway through the picture and show what those same officials would have to deal with in an aftermath.
Additionally, there were a few scenes that felt a bit too emotionally manipulative, a prime example is using a little girl selling bread and using multiple opportunities to have her leave, and then just come back again.
Another example of this was the pilots, played by Paul and Phoebe Fox. During their time of arming the missiles to fire, they actually start crying, making the film feel actually somewhat unrealistic. Once again, it would have been more subtle and probably better if we saw this in a period of aftermath.
The rest of the performances were done well, though. While their characters were in a way somewhat archetypes, Mirren and Rickman make absolutely the most out of what they’re given, strengthening the movie.
Also, the work to create what strikes such as these look like was very well done, displaying the surveillance and technology that the drones utilize. It had a ‘this is happening now’ vibe, despite having some technology that is still down the road, that added gravity to the overall picture.
“Eye in the Sky” works on some levels, but some of its plot elements could have certainly been tighter. Still, the movie has enough going for it to warrant a 3 out of 5.