Magazine article Screen International

'Eye in the Sky': Review

Magazine article Screen International

'Eye in the Sky': Review

Article excerpt

A blunt assault that would have been more efficient as a surgical strike, Eye In The Sky condemns the proliferation of military drone attacks, but this thriller is both manipulative and too proud of its perceived moral complexity. Some fine performances from an ensemble that includes Helen Mirren and Alan Rickman help add dimension to a stacked-deck story of a planned air strike on dangerous extremists. But despite the worthiness of the commentary, director Gavin Hood's latest inspires aggravation more than righteous indignation.

Premiering at the Toronto Film Festival, Eye In The Sky boasts star power and a timely message about drone warfare, an issue that has been examined both in documentaries (Dirty Wars) and features (Good Kill). No doubt hoping to provoke discussion about military ethics, the film may prove to be more of an op-ed magnet than a theatrical dynamo.

Written by Guy Hibbert, Eye In The Sky calmly observes as the UK and US militaries work together for a drone operation in Nairobi, where they believe two British citizens and one American have joined a Somali terrorist organization. Using airborne surveillance and agents in the field (including Barkhad Abdi), the team is led by the no-nonsense Col. Powell (Mirren) in a strategy room in London, coordinating with the remote drone pilot Watts (Aaron Paul) in Las Vegas, as well as British Lieutenant General Benson (Rickman), who is watching the operation via video screens alongside, among others, the attorney general (Richard McCabe).

The film ratchets up its tension after it is determined that this terrorist group is plotting an imminent suicide bombing - but the drone strike could result in the death of an innocent girl named Alia (Aisha Takow) unknowingly positioned right outside the targeted house.

Hood (Tsotsi, Ender's Game) has rich dramatic material to work with: Is halting the potential death of a hundred victims as the result of a suicide bombing sufficient justification for the almost certain death of one girl as collateral damage? …

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