Director Gavin Hood (Ender's Game) tells this tale of morality within today's modern warfare as members of the military, both American and British, struggle with the ethics of drone strikes as a group of suicide bombers prep their attacks.
The exploration of drone warfare within film has been dealt with before, most recently in Andrew Niccol's Good Kill, but that doesn't stop Hood's Eye In The Sky from being an utterly compelling and thrilling take on the subject matter. What's so gripping about Eye In The Sky is the constant struggle with ethics and morality.
Hood has assembled a fantastic cast; Helen Mirren (The Queen), Alan Rickman (Harry Potter & The Deathly Hallows Part 2), Aaron Paul (Breaking Bad) and Barkhad Abdi (Captain Phillips) are the main players here and all deliver wonderful performances with Aaron Paul being the definite standout. He plays the drone's pilot, he starts the day thinking this is just going to be another day at work accompanied by a rookie but as the plot develops his performance becomes truly quite heartbreaking. What was so interesting about Steve Watts (Paul) was that he is at the helm of an incredibly dangerous weapon thousands of miles away from the target within the safe confines of an airbase and how the decision to pull or not pull the trigger affects him.
The drone's target is a house in Nairobi which holds one of the biggest targets on both America's and Britain's list. The mission starts off as a "capture, not kill", but when the house also contains two suicide bombers who are prepping for an attack, the mission quickly changes. The plot becomes even thicker when just as the order is about to be given for the house to be struck with a Hellfire missile, a 9 year old girl selling bread for her family is within the blast radius. This is where the real struggle with morality comes in; do the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few? What makes this even more difficult is that we have been seeing this girl and her family since the beginning of the film, as she hula hoops around her back yard whilst her father fixes a neighbors bicycle.
I wasn't expecting a lot from Eye In The Sky even with the highly positive reviews I'd heard. Gavin Hood is a director who has never impressed me with films like X-Men Origins: Wolverine and Ender's Game being his two biggest films, but he blew me away with this incredibly layered, focused and gripping story. The film flips geographically and at first I was worried that the story may become too convoluted, but about halfway in, the plot takes center stage and becomes laser focused and by the end of the film I was completely invested.
Eye In The Sky is a nail biting, edge of your seat drama that juggles the personal, ethical and legal merits of launching a Hellfire missile within a country that is not a warzone yet contains a highly dangerous target. Now and again the film will try and add some levity and satire to the story, specifically I'm talking about a scene in which the foreign secretary is taking a life or death call whilst sitting on the toilet with a nasty case of food poisoning. I personally could have done without this aspect of the film.
The film features a LOT of dialogue and sitting in rooms but Hood paces the film well and manages to keep it all more than interesting and more importantly very thought provoking. The film is a tight 102 minutes and doesn't overstay it's welcome. I highly recommend checking out Eye In The Sky, I'm giving it an 8.9/10.