Film review: Military-grade thrills and moral dilemmas

Matt Adcock reviews Eye in the Sky (15), starring Alan Rickman and Helen Mirren

By The Newsroom
Monday, 18th April 2016, 8:23 am
Updated Monday, 18th April 2016, 8:25 am
Helen Mirren in Eye in the Sky
Helen Mirren in Eye in the Sky

Hey, terrorists – we’re watching you.

You can’t see it but as well as the satellites tracking you, cruising overhead is most likely a Predator: medium-altitude, long-endurance unmanned aircraft system piloted by ace US Top Gunners. Closer to your base there are most likely covert remote control spy cameras too – some look like birds, others like beetles. Yes, there’s almost nowhere to hide.

Watching the feeds from these various pieces of high tech kit are military officers from around the world, one is Colonel Katherine Powell (Helen ‘Trumbo’ Mirren), based at RAF Northwood, a top secret drone operation controller.

Tasked with trying to capture dangerous Al-Shabaab terrorists in Kenya, Powell has tracked several high level targets to a possible rendezvous/suicide bomber preparation base. As the suspects include both radicalized British and US citizens, the tracking team is made up of American drone pilot Steve Watts (Aaron ‘Triple 9’ Paul) aided by his A1C (Phoebe Fox), the Brits in Northwood and native operatives on the ground in Kenya.

When Powell discovers the targets are planning an imminent suicide bombing, the mission escalates from a ‘capture’ to a ‘kill’ right under the noses of the watching MPs and General Frank Bensen (Alan Rickman).

As the seconds tick by, the tension mounts and then just as the strike order is about to be given a young Innocent girl enters the kill zone triggering a crisis of morality amongst those watching. Could this girl trigger an international dispute, reaching the highest levels of US and British government? What value do we put on one life’s worth?

Director Gavin ‘Enders Game’ Hood handles this flashpoint collateral-damage-em-up with an effective grip. The key players in the both Government and Military, who have to make the agonizing decisions as to whether the ‘cost’ of innocent lives are worth the ‘win’ of taking out those committed to carrying out acts of violence against many more are well handled.

This is nail biting stuff and despite the moral dilemma at the heart of the plot it keeps you entertained.

Kudos must go to the late great Alan Rickman for giving a fine final performance here too.

Keep an eye out for this military grade thriller that will leave you with much to ponder.