Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Eye In The Sky Review

Any new technological advancement is going to be met with a wide gamut of responses, especially when said piece of technology can drastically change the way our society operates. Just look at how the very presence of cell phones has upended social conventions the world over. When those leap forwards in technology apply to a piece of military hardware, a whole new level of scrutiny is applied to the object, mainly because, more likely than not, this newly created device could be responsible for the loss of lives. The advent of nuclear weaponry was one such military-related creation that sparked debates about morality that are still ongoing today, while today's modern day military technological advancement that's creating plenty of conversation is drone warfare.

Drone warfare, in a nutshell, allows for soldiers to remote pilot a small plane into certain territories, spying for information, visuals of enemies and, in certain cases, carrying out executions. It's a piece of hardware that, for obvious reasons, creates debate, and Eye In The Sky, the new Gavin Hood motion picture, examines the pro's and cons of drone warfare in the confines of a thriller. Colonel Katherine Powell (Helen Mirren) has a number of terrorists, including one who she's been tracking for six years, in her sights. These terrorists are preparing to carry out a suicide bombing and Powell is determined to intervene and fire a missile at the location of the terrorists via a drone strike.

However, just before the procedure is executed, a complication arises; directly outside of the compound the terrorists are occupying is a little girl attempting to sell some bread. This development begins to toss everyone involved in the procedure into disarray, with some (like the pilot of the drone, Steve Watts, played by Aaron Paul) refusing to comply with hurting an innocent civilian, and others (like Lt. General Frank Benson, played by the late Alan Rickman) taking a "needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few" stance on the situation. All the while, the clock is ticking as the terrorists prepare to put their terrifying plot into motion....

Likely the smartest aspect of the script for Eye In The Sky, penned by Guy Hibbert, is how it avoids diving into any extraneous material that would distract from the moral quandary at hand. For instance, there's no budding romances between two government workers that runs as a B-plot to the main story, or anything like that, all efforts, from a plot structure and character standpoint, stem from figuring out how to approach this most delicate scenario. Not only does that help keep the film focused despite bouncing across numerous locations and even continents, but it also does wonders for enhancing the suspense arising from the aforementioned ticking clock of figuring out whether or not to resort to drone warfare.

Leading the roster of characters in Eye Of The Sky is Helen Mirren as Colonel Katherine Powell, a character that Mirren infuses with the sort of intimidating presence that's required for portraying a high-ranking Military figure, but the script lets her down by refusing to give her dimensions as the plot goes along. Lt. General Frank Benson is similarly more one-note as a character, but at least the actor playing him, Alan Rickman, excels in the delivery of a monologue in his final scene that boosts up his performance considerably. As for Aaron Paul as Steve Watts, Paul serves the plot mighty well as an audience surrogate of sorts, an ordinary human being thrust into the midst of a situation that feels like a no-win predicament.

If there's any individual in the cast & crew of Eye In The Sky who deserves notable commendations for their work, it's editor Megan Gill, whose work in that particular department is a crucial reason why Eye In The Sky maintains a consistently pleasing level of uneasiness. That's an appropriate tone given the movie's subject matter, and its pleasing that Eye In The Sky doesn't pull any punches in examining the greater ramifications of the technological wartime advancement that is drone warfare. To utilize a quote from J. Robert Oppenheimer, the characters in this film, with the capability to kill a target from the comfort of their own chair, have become death. With such technology at their disposal, Eye In The Sky asks them clearly if they're ready to become the destroyer of worlds.

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