True Review

True Review Movie - Eye in the Sky

True Review Movie - Eye in the Sky

by Niharika Puri March 20 2016, 3:38 pm Estimated Reading Time: 2 mins, 29 secs

Cast: Helen Mirren, Alan Rickman, Aaron Paul, Phoebe Fox.

Direction: Gavin Hood.

Produced: Ged Doherty, Colin Firth, David Lancaster,

Written: Guy Hibbert.

Genre: Action

Duration: 132 Mins

It is only apt that a film as timely and tensely scripted as this one begins with Aeschylus' quote - "In war, truth is the first casualty." So is innocence. There are many who know what they must do, despite the collateral damage. Colonel Katherine Powell (Helen Mirren) is single-minded that way. Lieutenant General Frank Benson (Alan Rickman) is on her side, even if he is the one who has to shop for his daughter's birthday (it is tricky to pick the right doll) and has to tackle the bureaucracy on various levels regarding the nature of their operation.

It is a tricky mission of sorts - three prominent terrorists are holed up in a safehouse in Nairobi, Kenya. At first, it is an assignment to capture them, two being British subjects and the third being an American citizen. Things gets murkier when a drone beetle piloted by undercover agent Jama (Captain Phillips' Barkhad Abdi) reveals ammunition and the fact that the assembled terrorists plan to conduct a suicide attack.

The bombing could potentially claim 80 lives. A drone strike on the safehouse without delay could prevent the loss but it does not guarantee the safety of bystanders. It is Lieutenant Steve Watts' (Aaron Paul) first time piloting the lethal drone and he would rather not have an unsuspecting citizen caught in the crosshairs. It is a moral dilemma, which gets taken up with the highest echelons of power in the British and American intelligence. When is the right time to sacrifice innocent lives? Is it when you take out the terrorists or let them proceed with the attack as part of anti-terror propaganda?

Eye in the Sky is like an extended sequence of American Sniper when Chris Kyle has a dilemma about shooting a woman and child in the greater interest of the war. However, in this film, the tension remains intact and the intercutting between the American, British and Kenyan counterparts is seamless.

The film may be short on actual action and banks more on conversations but there is enough back-and-forth going on the morality and the political implications of the attack that may seem tiresome to the military officers but are thought to be well-considered objections by the bureaucracy (though the Americans seem more supportive of the attack without delving into the amorality of it).

In the end, Lieutenant General Benson has had enough of the judgement unhelpfully thrust upon him by a higher-up (Monica Dolan). To her, he replies with withering firmness - "Never tell a soldier that he does not know the cost of war."

Those behind the trigger (whether they hesitate or fire) are the ones who have to bear the consequences. Eye in the Sky stops just shy of exploring the characters' aftermath after a difficult decision. It makes for powerful and tight viewing before that.


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