In the aftermath of the massive blockbuster, “Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice,” Hollywood had a relatively quiet weekend. But that does not mean there were no good movies.
“Eye in the Sky,” a thriller about the implications of drone warfare, proved that there is still room for original storytelling amidst the many military dramas inspired by the war on terrorism. However, it loses some of its unique luster by the somewhat cliché philosophical questions posed concerning the effect of war on the innocent.
“Eye in the Sky” focuses on a joint operation to capture known terrorists in Kenya, but when the mission takes a violent turn, British officials are forced to adjust their strategy to a shoot to kill objective.
As a young girl becomes unknowingly threatened by the collateral damage of an airstrike on the position, however, each character is faced with an impossible moral dilemma: strike the terrorists and accept the death of an innocent bystander to avoid a more devastating attack, or save the girl and allow the targets to escape with violent intentions.
This difficult decision most affects the rookie American drone operator responsible for pulling the trigger. As diplomats argue over the appropriate course of action, he must accept the blood that will be on his hands, whether enemy or innocent.
The film’s perspective provides an interesting view of the painful consequences of war. By considering a situation that could have been depicted in five minutes in a film of grander scope, “Eye in the Sky” sheds light on the life-altering decisions that must be made every day during war.
In a cinematic environment of superhero movies that depict destruction and death with about as much gravity as if it were nothing but squashing an insect, this film is truly refreshing for its focus on the importance of a single human life.
Yet, “Eye in the Sky” does suffer a bit from an overly explicit use of a generic philosophical question of whether the ends justify the means. While it’s nice to think that our military leaders have a concern for such questions, the all too obvious narrative attempt to foster compassion for the innocent girl in the crosshairs becomes cumbersome and unnecessary.
Nevertheless, “Eye in the Sky” excels technically. By balancing military surveillance footage with well-executed cinematography, the film is visually capturing. The superb acting pulls you into the intense conflict of every character so that no scene falls flat.
While “Eye in the Sky” might not be as memorable as other modern military dramas such as “The Hurt Locker” or “American Sniper,” it offers a timely examination of war waged from a control room. And though perhaps not quite as thought-provoking as it fancies itself to be, the questions posed are provocative and relevant to modern warfare.
“Eye in the Sky” is directed by Gavin Hood and stars Helen Mirren, Aaron Paul and the late Alan Rickman.