Movie Review: Eye in the Sky (2016)

imageGavin Hood’s Eye in the Sky (A-) is a spectacular meditation on the costs of wars waged with drone spies and unmanned planes that can drop missiles with perfect precision and why the human element is still so powerful in waging a fair battle. There is a lot of waiting game and bureaucratic bickering that weighs down some of the film’s most cinematic possibilities, but the moral dilemma at the movie’s heart as an international coalition determines how to capture or destroy suicide bombers in Kenya without significant collateral damage will prompt some fascinating discussion. Helen Mirren is magnificent as a war room commander, and Aaron Paul is solid as the U.S. soldier with his hand on the trigger. While underused in much of the film as a British commander and negotiator, the late Alan Rickman gets some brilliant parting words. Barkhad Abdi is also effective a heroic accomplice on the ground, deeply humanizing the depths of the danger to friends and neighbors when terrorism strikes cities. The sheer voyeurism of the drone plots makes for some suspenseful sequences, but it’s the human cat and mouse game at the movie’s center that makes the narrative gripping. It’s an intellectual thriller that condenses one of the great debates of our time into a satisfying story.


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