Eye In The Sky is director Gavin Hood’s look at the complexities of the military drone bombing procedure.
Set in a small, ramshackle town in Kenya under the occupation of muslim extremists, it tells the story of the complicated military ‘defence’ network challenged with the task of eliminating terror targets; in this particular case, the rare opportunity to remove three of the top five targets on the U.S military’s terrorist hit list.
Helen Mirren heads the British unit coordinating all such operations from afar, but this is very much unavoidably a global effort with a handful of the targets being U.S and British nationals.
Holed up in a house within the town, preparations – thus far monitored at every stage of the process through ingenious micro drone technology – are underway to fit two young muslim recruits with explosive-packed suicide vests, the repercussions from which should they make it out into the general public need no explanation.
Mirren’s military task force has no intention of letting this happen and having successfully identified key ‘terror’ targets within the building, initial clearance having been granted and with drone missile sights trained in, all is set for a quick and easy execution of procedure.
What no-one has banked on however is an additional moral conundrum presenting itself at the last minute, with the sudden emergence of a young girl on the scene, choosing to set up her bread stall well within the missile’s blast zone.
And so begins an at times farcical chain of events as the buck of responsibility is well and truly passed from pillar to post. From the highest military echelons, through political levels, to key legal personnel, even the Prime Minister and US Secretary of Defense get involved – everyone lives in the hope that someone will develop the cojones to give the nod for the desired drone strike.
With the fear of the potential political own-goal and media hate-fest that may ensue, there’s a considerable reluctance to give the all clear.
With technical experts frantically computing and number crunching to produce what are essentially legally-acceptable collateral damage ‘waivers’ and personal assistants scurrying hither and thither from bigwig to bigwig, the clock is ticking and the situation is becoming ever more critical by the minute.
All said, it’s a well put together piece if not entirely convincing, making a good fist of examining the value of human life within an extreme pressured scenario, and poses the question: just exactly what is or should be deemed acceptable when it comes to collateral damage?
Director Gavin Hood is keen to paint a picture of there being no winners in such a predicament. Ultimately, whatever the outcome, no-one is ever truly ready to make that decision and give that final order to proceed, not to mention of course that unlucky someone that must physically put finger to the ‘fire’ button and actually carry out the orders.
Helen Mirren is reliably good as Colonel Katherine Powell , whilst it’s a final big screen appearance for the late Alan Rickman who plays Lieutenant General Frank Benson with that pompous air of the old-school British military.
Gavin Hood successfully induces high levels of tension from proceeedings, but more than that, almost succeeds in creating a convincing case that everyone involved in such drone bombing procedure is entirely morally torn and almost apologetic for their actions, albeit in doing so, he rather stretches levels of credulity in the process.