Eye in the Sky is a British military-political thriller, directed by Gavin Hood to a screenplay by Guy Hibbert. It stars Helen Mirren, Aaron Paul, Alan Rickman, and Barkhad Abdi. The film presents some very timely ethical issues related to drone warfare, as well as terrorists using civilian populated neighborhoods as a base of operation.
While the issues brought forth are seemingly born out of current-day advanced technology, the dilemma is nothing new. Military actions endangering bystanders is as old as the history of war. Regardless, the fundamental question of whether sacrificing one innocent life is justified for the greater good, is always worth asking.
If you expect answers, this film will provide you with none. The filmmakers avoid voicing a clear opinion on the matter, and prefer to leave judgement with the individual viewer. The only criticism expressed is with respect to the spineless politicians, British in this case, who, rather than take responsibility, look for others to take the fall in case of an ensuing political storm.
The writing and direction of Eye in the Sky, are, for the most part, solid, and the acting, especially of the always-a-pleasure-to-watch Mirren, is terrific. Noteworthy is also Rickman in one of his last roles before his untimely passing. Rickman’s subtleties deepen the character he portrays. Kudos go also to the director, his location manager and related team members, who were able to create real-feel locations for a plot that takes place in multiple places across the globe, yet shot in South Africa.
Ultimately, regardless of whom makes the final political-military decision, Eye in the Sky makes clear that it is the people in the lower end of the rank chain who may suffer the most. Yet, that is only a by-product of the bigger picture; one commanders and leaders world-wide face constantly -- the impossible decision of whether sacrificing values is worth saving multiple lives. No answer exists expect for a haunting question and a good film worth watching.