Eye in the Sky | Film | Pittsburgh | Pittsburgh City Paper

Eye in the Sky

A gripping thriller that examines the moral, political and personal costs of drone warfare


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.

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