EYE IN THE SKY: 3 STARS. “movie is talky but also terrifically tense.”
Helen Mirren trades in Queen Elizabeth’s tiara for army fatigues in “Eye in the Sky,” a drone drama that examines the legal, military, moral and political ramifications of an unmanned aerial vehicle bombing on some high value targets in the war on terror.
Mirren is Colonel Powell, an English military intelligence officer charged with tracking down and dispatching British national-turned-terrorist in Nairobi, Kenya. When the mark is located in a house in a residential area Powell weighs the value of eliminating the threat against the possibility of collateral damage—the unintended death of civilians. When it’s discovered the target is planning a suicide-bombing run, endangering the lives of dozens of people, she makes the decision to “prosecute” the target. Before she can engage, however, she needs the approval of a London-based panel—Attorney General Matherson (Richard McCabe), Foreign Secretary Willett (Iain Glen), Lieutenant General Benson (Alan Rickman) and politician Angela North (Monica Dolan)—and the Las Vegas based drone pilots Watts (Aaron Paul) and Gershon (Phoebe Fox). When an innocent nine-year-old girl sets ups a stand to sell bread just inside the kill zone questions are raised as to whether to pull the trigger or not.
“Eye in the Sky” is talky but also terrifically tense as life and death decisions are boiled down to public relations and political tactics. Wordy and pedantic, it asks the viewer to choose sides and then explore the reasoning behind their decisions. What is worth more, the life of an innocent young girl or the potential loss of life if the suicide bombers make it to a mall? It’s a complicated and morality tinged look at the kinds of choices that are made on an almost daily basis, decisions so common they barely rate a mention in the news anymore.