War Chronicles | Eye in The Sky | Ethics of Modern Warfare
You have a decision to make : To pull the trigger and avoiding an imminent attack which “might” take more than 80 or so lives in a Market or mall, or facing a collateral damage of one innocent life, knowing she/he would most probably die.
What would you Do?
Eye in The Sky directed by Gavin Hood-whose last feature Ender’s Game was not a successful venture while quite enjoyable- stars Helen Mirren, Aaron Paul, Barkhad Abdi and in his last Movie Appearance- Alan Rickman. It is a war thriller which asks some hard question regarding moral abuse of power by men in Coats and Generals sitting in a room and the consequences of their decisions.
(While I was planning to Review Pianist in First Episode of My series War Chronicles, I changed my decision a little and delayed it, because Eye in the Sky and the modern Warfare depicted in the movie is far more trivial for the world we live in and thus make a very important movie in the series.)
The Movie starts with a basic introduction to characters of Helen Mirren and Alan Rickman, although the movie do not waste a lot of time in doing that and goes straight to the action. This decision of not giving a lot of back story to the characters might look very non-trivial, but this helps in solidifying the characters of Lieutenant General Frank Benson (Alan Rickman) and Colonel Katherine Powell (Helen Mirren), this decision gives the actors an freedom to craft their own characters with their acting and as the actors get more breathing space, they fills in the gaps to form perfect believable characters.
Another good decision that Gavin Hood makes is not over sensitizing the viewer by showing a lot of story of our protagonists. Except the girl of course. The movie is powerfully acted and wonderfully directed.
The movie follows Colonel Katherine who is in charge of a UK-based Military top secret Drone operation to capture terrorists in Kenya. Among the terrorists are Number 2,3 and 5 on the American list of Most Wanted terrorists in East Africa, also among the group is a british National, Susan Danford who is now known as Aysha Al Haydy, her husband and a recently radicalized young man. A multinational team is working on the mission: as Drone Pilot Steve Watts (Aaron Paul) who has never performed a drone strike before is sitting in a closed bunker with his co-pilot at an Air Force base in Nevada. A Ground force is working in Kenya to stay close and spy on the meeting using state of the art technology which include Oscar Nominated Barkhad Abdi playing a Kenyan Jama Farah. Also sitting in pearl Harbor is a technician doing facial recognition for terrorists.
The mission goes awry and changes pace and orders when the terrorists change the meeting location and Kathrene finds out that they are preparing for a strike. She wants to go in for the kill, using Reaper Drone, but it is not her decision to make, In London sitting in a meeting room are Lt.General Frank Benson (Alan Rickman), a Junior Minister and British Attorney General. This starts a debate among the command line. The British Foreign Secretary is at a conference, while US Secretary of state is in China playing Table Tennis.
Complicating Matter is a girl, who arrives suddenly and who lives next door to the building of strike. She sets up a table at the wall of the building and starts selling the bread her mother has made. Now the question is an even harder one, Do they proceed knowing about the collateral Damage?
Playing God, are we supposed to do that? What is the Eye in the Sky? Is there a lot of power withing a lot less hands? Ethically is Drone Warfare even correct? These kinds of questions are being thrown to the viewer while watching an utterly tense thriller. And believe me, it is a white-knuckled-heart in your mouth thriller. It will get you to the edge of your seat.
Another brilliant part of the script is the lack of melodrama, the movie will not use music and slow motion scenes to elevate your emotions-except in the end credits scene- the movie does not over sensationalize the characters. He follows practical approach, and uses good computer graphics. The main lead actors were never during the shooting together and they never met each other, this lead to a feeling of remoteness within the characters. A brave decision which worked well for Gavin Hood.
Alan Rickman-famous for Harry Potter Series and Die Hard- is at his best in his last movie. With quite good chance in winning a posthumous Academy Award. In fact the whole cast of the movie has done quite well in the acting department.
An excellent study of Ethical decision making, eye in the Sky is definitely one of the best movies of this year.