'Eye In The Sky'
Director: Gavin Hood
Cast: Helen Mirren, Aaron Paul, Alan Rickman, Barkhad Abdi
The film's premise is simple. Col Katherine Powell (Helen Mirren) stationed in a safe zone far away from the area of operation is tasked with overseeing the capture of terrorists - two British citizens (Somali terrorist Aisha Al Hady, her husband) and an American, in Kenya. All three are ranked in the top ten most wanted terrorists list and it's incumbent that they be caught - sooner the better.
Watch the trailer of 'Eye In The Sky'
With the help of satellite technology and a prying electronic eye the Col manages to confirm the identities of the three terrorists. She enlists the help of an American drone, flown remotely from Las Vegas by pilot Steve Watts (Aaron Paul) and Co-Pilot Carrie Gershon (Phoebe Fox), to keep an eye on the house from the sky while ground forces can be mobilized to storm the building and apprehend the targets. When surveillance reveals that the terrorists are preparing for a suicide bombing, Powell changes her objective from capture to kill. But she needs the go-ahead from the gathered diplomats of the USA and UK who are initially unprepared to ratify her cause. A discussion ensues and chain of control goes up the rung for answers before an OK is agreed on. So just as she commissions the kill by a remotely controlled hellfire missile, a little girl selling bread enters the perimeter of the kill site. There's a 65% chance that she will not survive the attack and with this new entry the debate gets triggered again and the Col has to find a way to get the girl out of harm's way or allow the window of hard-won opportunity to be frittered away. How she does it and within the established protocols, is simply breathtaking and fascinating too.
Powell consults commanding officer, Lieutenant General Frank Benson (Alan Rickman), and a slew of other advisors, to arrive at a decision as to whether sacrificing one little girl is worth potentially saving hundreds of other innocent lives. And that is what this movie is all about. A debate on the value of human life and the price we put on it while sitting in our overbearing, prestigious positions. Should a 'what if' situation have more power to swing decision its way when pitted against the sure shot loss of one life - even if it is of one little six-year-old? It's really not an easy one to call and the points raised by the interested parties sitting on the table are all very much valid. Ethics, morality, humanity, discipline and principles come into play here. There's no escaping the palpitations that arise out of seeing the sweet little girl in the 'eye' of the storm. The tension builds up slowly and steadily and the escalation to 'kill' makes it even more heart-stopping. Tick-tock-tick-tock... and time is running out.
The screenplay is a fire-cracker even if there's not much of a story to tell. The dialogues are relatable and each word and how it is put forth matters. The suspense is razor-sharp. The political grandstanding and second-guessing adds power to the 'war on terror' template. The narrative tempo is artfully measured and strongly evocative. Gavin Hood makes the telling sharp and incising. And with steely performances from Helen Mirren, Alan Rickman and empathetic ones from the rest, this one sure has the power to make it a striking, one-of-a-kind experience. The aerial aesthetics and a sanguine score adds substance. This film is strong on conviction and its anti-war sentiment is quite inflammable!