Director Gavin Hood’s taut, traumatic, contemporary warfare film will ambush viewers from its first frame to its stunning conclusion. Starring Helen Mirren as UK “Col. Katharine Powell”, who after a six-year hunt has discovered the lair of suicide bombers and key terrorists in Kenya; Drone technology allows the military to detect, spy and target threats to international security; “Eye in the Sky” is inimitable in educating neophytes in its attributes, wizardry and facility in minimizing collateral damage.
Watching the intimate preparation of suicide bombers, intersected with military personnel, politicians and a child whose presence poses a moral conundrum that fragments, tears, infuses and determines the decision-making process of the principals: Powell and British “General Frank Benson” (Alan Rickman’s weary portrayal forecasts his imminent death) fight for the approval to engage; especially poignant is American pilot “Steve Watts” (ripping, compelling depiction by Aaron Paul) who refuses to fire. Barkhad Abdi (“Captain Phillips”) “Jama”, a friendly agent, is remarkable and ingenious as a Drone operator trying valiantly to remove the child from harms way. Hood’s penetrating close-ups and brilliant transactions guarantee that the protagonists unspoken emotional upheavals need no words.
“Alia” (Aisha Takow) is an enchanting, nine-year-old child who sells her mother’s bread every morning adjacent to the targeted area; she is a metaphor for the insidious, crippling society informed by a religion/law that does not recognize her right to an education, play outside her home, or doff her hijab on sweltering days; her sinuous, uninhibited dance with a hula-hoop speaks volumes of the freedoms she is denied, blameless, born into culture that is nascent in the perpetuation of Drone warfare.