Films that blend politics so overtly into plot make assessing them, from a thematic standpoint, tricky business. Agreeing with a film’s message does not always make it a good movie or vice versa. Although, it doesn’t hurt. Eye in the Sky succeeds in blending a tense thriller with a relevant ethical dilemma regarding the use of drone strikes overseas. It won’t necessarily change your opinion, but it will highlight the complex nature and ramifications of these strikes. Timing is everything. Ambivalence can surround decision makers like a thick fog, leaving them hesitant and vulnerable. This is not a form of escapism, rather a glimpse into the harsh realities of modern day terrorism.
Eye in the Sky centers around a British Military operation attempt to capture two high profile radicalized terrorists– who happen to be UK and US citizens– in an Al Shabaab controlled section of Kenya. The situation escalates to a kill mission when two suicide bombers are spotted in the same location housing the radicals. Going in with ground troops is untenable and the use of a drone seems to be the only realistic option– much to the detriment of innocent civilians.
The process of this mission is intentionally painstaking. The filmmakers expertly capture the frustration government and military officials go through. Eye in the sky demonstrates multiple agencies across the globe working together like a finely tuned machine. But looks can be deceiving. Behind these machines are indecisive human beings who do not want the culpability, almost as much as they don’t want to pull the trigger.
The British are handed the keys to an American program and seem to weigh the political, legal, and moral ramifications far more than their U.S. counterpart. The disparity between the two countries’ attitude on drone strikes comes off comical in tone and brought back memories of Dr. Strangelove– making me questions the validity of the film’s portrayal.
In a nut shell: This is a tight thrill ride from start to finish. Eye in the Sky never lets up and makes the audience feel like an active participant in the decision making process. The film’s strength comes from its ensemble cast whose feelings of doubt and moral reasoning are showcased through a nuanced script– where pauses can speak louder than dialogue. The film gets bogged down in politics and at times makes the U.S look like a calculated war machine. Despite its issues, Eye in the Sky is still a tense piece of fiction. (3 out of 4)