Gavin Hood directs this timely ensemble thriller about our multifaceted war on terror. The mission is to apprehend a group of known terrorists in Kenya, but over the course of this real-time film, that shifts from a “capture” to a “kill” situation. The joint operation takes place in three locations: an al-Shabaab-controlled area of Nairobi; U.K. military command centers in London; and the shipping-container-like structure from which U.S. Air Force pilots, outside Las Vegas, operate the drones. Helen Mirren is the U.K. Army colonel in charge; the late Alan Rickman (in his final role) portrays a British general; and Aaron Paul is the drone pilot.
Like the drone, Eye is often too on-the-nose, even in the dozen or so complicating factors it adds to ramp up the dilemma: innocent civilians, endless chains of command “referring up,” and the debating of the political and moral implications. Yet despite seeing the obvious plot machinery, Eye is a gripping thriller, though there is something to examine about how this real-life, semi-secret, morally unresolved method of warfare becomes fodder for entertainment. It asks all the right questions (literally) but: Should I root for Mirren’s steely determination to drop a Hellfire missile on a little girl? Or watch the already-missed Rickman deliver withering takedowns of more passive, liberal decisions? Yeah, kind of — I love those actors, and the chewy subject matter — but I don’t feel good about it.