As we swiftly approach the season of mindless (but fun) entertainment, there are certain assumptions made about some movies. Usually it’s fair to assume that soldier-filled film that’s released after in early April is probably spectacle-driven entertainment for the masses, but in the case of “Eye in the Sky,” that is refreshingly untrue.
The main premise of “Eye in the Sky” is one that, tragically, we’ve all likely seen before—acts of war being carried out by people thousands of miles away via drones.
Drones have been a hot button issue for quite a while now, evidenced by John Oliver’s coverage of the topic last year (seriously if you haven’t seen it, watch it now).
Still, it would have been very easy for a movie about the morality of their use in military operations to come off as a broken record. “Eye in the Sky” pulls it off beautifully.
Our story starts with Col. Katherine Powell (Helen Mirren), a British military officer in command of a mission many years in the making to capture three high-ranking terrorists meeting in Nairobi, Kenya. Throughout the movie she’s communicating and coordinating remotely with U.S. military in Nevada, including the soldiers actually controlling the drone (Aaron Paul and Phoebe Fox); field agents on the ground in Kenya (including Barkhad Abdi of “Captain Phillips” fame); a room full of British diplomats, ministers, and Lieutenant General Frank Benson (Alan Rickman). And if you think that sounds like a ridiculous amount of people, the group only grows as the situation becomes more complicated.
When the targets relocate to a militia-controlled section of the city, what starts as a planned capture quickly becomes a kill order.
This turn of events reveals that our pilot (Aaron Paul) has only ever flown surveillance missions, and that every decision-maker in that room of diplomats is not willing to make this sort of call. And while the amount of buck passing that goes on is pretty comical, I can’t say I blame them.
The situation is already fraught with questions of legality and morality when a young girl, selling bread sets up her wares in the kill zone. I don’t think anyone would argue that issues like this are black and white, but “Eye in the Sky” reveals shades of gray that you can’t even imagine. It’s an incredibly acted, masterfully constructed story, that casts no judgment on any of the parties involved.
To me, that is \the most impressive feat of this film—it reveals the ridiculousness and reality of these situations without outrightly condemning anyone. It leaves that judgment up to you.