"The phrase ‘edge of your seat’ is often a hackneyed and clichéd expression but this firmly does justice to this idiom"
On the face of things, Eye In The Sky could have been an incredibly cheesy film. However, under the direction of Gavin Hood (Tsotsi) what we get is a slick, fresh take on the hidden and complex machinations of modern warfare and a glimpse into a world us regular folk could only fathom to comprehend.
You think you’ve had a bad day at work because your boss didn’t get the raise you’ve been hoping for? Imagine going to work and having to take full operative control of a strategic drone strike on a known terrorist, only to have your plans scuppered by a morally conscious drone pilot who refuses to launch on the discovery of a young girl in the vicinity of the strike. The unnecessary death of hundreds versus the necessary death of a few becomes the ultimate dichotomy of the film.
Spread across a number of locations, Eye In The Sky follows several key players as they communicate and channel back and forth as to the eventual fate of one small girl. Helen Mirren leads the show as Colonel Powell, the mastermind of this global strike force alongside the late Alan Rickman as the calm and collected British General who acts as something of a mediator between Powell and the bickering room of politicians. Rounding off the ensemble is Aaron Paul as the drone pilot tasked with having to physically execute these orders, and whose moral ambiguity ultimately acts as a catalyst for the unfolding events.
Each character represents a different mentality to this tense, escalating drama: from Mirren’s stead fast military leader, to Paul’s apprehensive drone pilot, and the various characters in between from nameless US military personnel whose job it is to accurately identify facial recognition patterns of the terrorists, to the field agents (a great performance from Captain Phillips actor Barkhad Abdi) caught up in the very real chaos of the situation.
Much like The Hurt Locker did a fantastic job in portraying the very real horrors of modern war; Eye In The Sky does similar but serves to highlight just how much bureaucracy and red tape there is behind the scenes when it comes to making these kind of decisions. This is a film that doesn’t require over the top scenes of death and destruction, but rather it relies on the intricacies of dialogue and performance in order to deftly convey the reality (and absurdity) of war.
The phrase ‘edge of your seat’ is often a hackneyed and clichéd expression but this firmly does justice to this idiom. By the final act you will be glued to the screen, glimpsing the climactic scenes through parted fingers. As you leave the cinema, much like the characters in the film who pack up their belongings and head home after another ‘busy day at work’ or are told to ‘get some sleep as you’re back on shift tomorrow morning’ you will find yourself contemplating just what exactly goes on behind the closed doors of government. But then most likely you’ll see a funny snapchat from a friend and life will continue.