Review: The U.K., U.S.A. and Kenya join forces in a mission to capture top-tier Al-Shabaab extremists meeting in Nairobi, Kenya. At surface, this looks like a war movie; but, director Gavin Hood (X-Men Origins: Wolverine) actually only devices a girl who sells bread to craft Eye in the Sky into this year’s most dilemmatic and taut thriller.
Col. Katherine Powell (Helen Mirren) is leading the mission called Operation Egret. On different part of the world, Lieutenant General Frank Benson (Alan Rickman) is supervising the operation with representative of U.K. governments. Via surveillance drone controlled by pilot Steve Watts (Aaron Paul) and ground intelligence agent (Barkhad Abdi), Powell discovers the targets plan a suicide bombing and the operation instantly raise to “shoot to kill.” By the time, the missile is about to launch, the unexpected comes—the girl I mentioned previously enters the zone; the real war finally arrives.
As a war movie, Eye in the Sky keeps the warfare noise at the minimum without over-the-top explosions or larger-than-life action sequences; in exchange, it stings with full rounds of sharp dialogues and arguments. The seemingly simple premise works like a cancer—quickly grows into a cancerous conflict. Delivered in real-time, the conflict is very atmospheric as if it brings the audience into witnessing turmoil that storms each character.
Through poignant dialogues and effective exploitation of moral dilemma, director Gavin Hood builds a taut thriller which keeps asking itself—leaving the plot morally ambiguous till the end. Focus on details of situation and superb performances delivered by the ensemble of casts gives real goosebumps at max.
Helen Mirren emits a senior femme fatale persona, without being one, as the epicenter and bridge between this all-character-matters drama. On her loose end, the late Alan Rickman in his final live-action roles makes a very memorable quote at the end. Aaron Paul and Barkhad Abdi bring balance to the story in an effective way. All those elements is crafted thoroughly into a compact 100 minutes which feel much more suffocating than any war movies in recent years.
In the end, Eye in the Sky becomes a most complex war movie in recent year. It stings with less action, but more series of legal and moral complexities in maximum intensity to question the moral value of the story itself. At the very end, nobody gets home smiling.
Eye in the Sky (2016)