Eye in the Sky: Slow-Burner Questions Morality of Modern Technological Warfare
Examining the moralities and intricacies of drone warfare, Gavin Hood’s effectual, slow-burning military thriller, Eye in the Sky, is both exhilarating and troublingly foreboding in its message.
The story is centred on no-nonsense British Col. Katherine Powell (Mirren) who is currently working on her final move in capturing an English-born radical who has close ties with Somalian terrorists. New information emerges, however, suggesting that the terrorists plan to carry out a suicide attack and her mission changes from capturing to killing.
Working from the script written by TV-movie screenwriter, Guy Hibbert, the tension is rides high in this tightly wound nail-biter of a war-thriller, which manages to tackles the changing nature of war and the moralities attached to developments in technological warfare through drones.
Moving seamlessly back and forth between locations – Kenya, Britain and the drone pilot cubicles in Texas – those expecting a lot of action, explosions and hand-to-hand combat will be disappointed, as Eye in the Sky is all about the wait and build to the movie’s dramatic climax. Taking place over the course of only a few hours, the story examines all of the tilts and angles involved in authorising a drone strike which, throws up many a moral dilemma.
Mirren is commanding as Katherine Powell, a woman who will do anything to get the job done, and the British actress plays her with a great amount of confidence and sympathy while the late Alan Rickman is his usual charming and magnificent self. Meanwhile, Paul – one of the drone pilots used for the mission– offers enough emotion behind the controls while Captain Phillips’ Barkhad Adi is equally compelling on the other side of the battle.
Playing to a very similar tune to Ethan Hawke’s Good Kill – a film which kept its focus on the psychological state of a pilot – Eye in the Sky, with a dash of black humour thrown in for good measure, manages to paint a much bigger picture of modern-day warfare and its more visible political complexities – a trademark of a rare, but increaing, new breed of modern war film. It’s not entirely flawless and its pacing often meanders into too much dialogue, but there’s still enough tension to carry through its simple yet affective contentions.