ByPaul Donovan, writer at Creators.co
A jerk with an opinion. An explorer of transgressive cinema. See more things about movies at https://creators.co/@paul_donovan
Paul Donovan

This is one of the best, yet least violent, war movies I've ever seen.

1. This is my #1 movie of 2016 so far. It's intelligent, suspenseful, and relevant.

2. I've never seen a war movie like this one. It's about the use of drone strikes on terrorist targets, and the complicated things that must happen before a drone actually attacks. Much of the movie is seen from the viewpoint of the drone flying above the suggested target, dispassionately tracking things, no matter how emotional everything else is getting.

3. The plot of the movie concerns a joint British-American operation to capture three terrorists. Our technology is such that the British can command things from their base in Britain, and the Americans can control the drone from their base in Las Vegas. The drone itself is in Nairobi, Kenya.

A few random and unexpected variables greatly complicate the mission; what was intended to be a capture operation becomes a possible kill operation. The mission focuses more tightly on the target, while simultaneously expanding to people situated all over the globe.

4. The technology used in the movie is a scarily fascinating mixture of things that are currently being used today, as well as things that have been developed, but which are still being prepared for field use.

5. The characters each represent a certain facet of war - violence, law, politics, ethics, and propaganda. They all get into a frustratingly ludicrous chain of command, in which everyone needs everyone else's permission to do anything. The movie made me realize that the line between caution and cowardice is very very blurry - and absurd.

6. The characters also represent a certain cost of war - physical, emotional, psychological, and moral. The cost of everything becomes a set of probabilities, a few immutable numbers. The real mission in war is finding the people willing to pay such costs.

He's a different type of captain now.
He's a different type of captain now.

7. About halfway through the movie, I made my decision about what I would do in that situation, and I didn't change it. This meant that I also had to take responsibility, however vicariously, for the results of the movie's events.

8. The cast is top-notch. Helen Mirren was very impressive as the military colonel ready to get the job done. This was also Alan Rickman's last on-screen role before his death, and he was great as the increasingly frustrated mission supervisor.

9. This is a thought-provoking, discussion-starting film that touches one of the hottest buttons in military politics today. No matter what your opinion is on the movie's topics, the world you live in before you see this movie is a little different than the world you will live in after you see it.

Trailer

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