Eye in the Sky Review

Director: Gavin Hood

Starring: Helen Mirren, Aaron Paul, Alan Rickman, Barkhad Abdi

The Overview

Col. Katherine Powell, a military officer in command of an operation to capture terrorists in Kenya, sees her mission escalate when a girl enters the kill zone triggering an international dispute over the implications of modern warfare. (Source: IMDB)

The Good

I expect many will go to see this due to the fact it is the late Alan Rickman’s final onscreen appearance, but there’s plenty more to appreciate in this thoroughly modern war thriller.

Eye in the Sky reminded me of TV series like Homeland and 24 in their prime, and especially the latter, as events did seem to unfold in real time. Unlike the aforementioned programmes however, which could sometimes be a little far-fetched, Eye in the Sky seems deeply rooted in truth and is totally believable. It is modern, relevant, incredibly timely, and very well made.

I really liked how the different perspectives were portrayed, and how easily they were intertwined. The pieces of the plot, the numerous players involved, and the multiple locations, all fit together completely seamlessly. Despite most of the scenes taking place in confined spaces with people either looking at screens or speaking on the phone, there’s plenty of momentum and the plot moves along at a tense but watchable pace.

Thematically this film was very challenging; it’s a morally complex exploration of war from a side not normally seen. It delves into the political, legal, and emotional ramifications of drone strikes, and you’ll find yourself questioning their actions and your own thoughts throughout. It is deeply affecting, and you might not leave the cinema with the same thoughts you had going in, or at the very least you will have a lot of questions.

The cast are excellent, and despite a lot of the key players never having any scenes directly with each other, the exchanges are wonderful, and very easily convey everyone’s moral standpoint without too much time spent exploring their backgrounds. Alan Rickman is of course wonderful, his monotone delivery perfectly suiting the weathered General who bridges the gap between Helen Mirren’s Colonel, and the political decision makers. The other standout for me was Barkhad Abdi; he was outstanding in Captain Phillips and is equally brilliant in this. As one of the few actors actually on the ground, it makes a refreshing change to the boardrooms and bunkers.   

The Bad

There’s very little to fault in the film itself, but the one thing for me is it isn’t the sort of film I could watch over and over again. I feel like after you’ve seen it once, you’ve seen everything you need to see.

This isn’t necessarily a terrible thing, but it is a shame that such a well made and well acted film doesn’t have the repeat watchability which perhaps it should.

The Verdict

I saw this movie and you should too. This is a taut, well executed modern warfare thriller, that is incredibly well thought out, put together, and followed through. It’s a challenging and difficult watch, and not one I would care to repeat, but it is so rare now to find a film which is thrilling, exciting, but so much more than just explosions and non-stop action. It’ll make you think, question, wrestle with your own conscience, and will undoubtedly leave a lasting impression. Definitely worth a watch!

Agree with everything I’ve said, or am I a terribly misguided idiot who has got it all wrong? Please let me know in the comments, and don’t forget to share as well.



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