Just been watching…(82)

Eye In The Sky (2015)

***No spoilers***

I am late to this one, and was lucky to catch it on a free film channel. I have seen and reviewed a very similar film made in the same year, ‘Good Kill’. But this one has a cast of British heavyweight actors, alongside some popular Americans who I don’t really know. When I see a cast list including Helen Mirren, Jeremy Northam, Ian Glenn, and Alan Rickman, (in his last film) then you can be sure I am going to watch it.

Mirren stars as a British Army colonel working at the intelligence centre at Northwood, close to London. She was 70 when the film was made, so something of a stretch to believe that she would still be on active service, though she carries that off very well. She has been obsessed with destroying a fundamentalist terrorist cell, headed by two British citizens, and operating around the countries in East Africa. Using observation drones, and Kenyan undercover operatives on the ground, she is delighted to discover that all three of her targets are together in one house, in a suburb of Nairobi.

The action then splits to various locations. In Nevada, we see the American drone operating crew who will observe the area and the suspects, as well as carrying out any agreed strike. Back in Kenya, the local special forces commander has a group waiting to carry out a capture if necessary, and in far-off Hawaii, a young American army specialist is manning her facial recognition machine, to confirm identities of the suspects. In a room in central London, important government ministers and officials are gathering, to watch the capture of the suspects unfold live on screen. All of this is controlled centrally from Northwood, by Colonel Powell. (Mirren)

I caught on fairly quickly that this was to be about one event. I started to wonder if the film was ambitious in that regard, trying to maintain my interest for 102 minutes about one incident. But it did, and was very tense at times. The swapping of locations is never confusing, and the interplay between the characters and the action shown on large screens is always linear. The plot deals with the behind the scenes dilemmas surrounding authorisation of captures or missile strikes, and shows us the way that decisions are ‘referred up’ and the buck is passed, as various characters remain indecisive when faced with the possible recriminations of their actions.

The footage supposed to be from the drones is completely convincing, and the use of technology is not only very interesting, it is believable too. One example is a tiny camera disguised as a flying insect, and operated by a Kenyan undercover agent, using a Nintendo game control. Great stuff. The Kenyan/African cast all do a great job too, and the filming locations in South Africa pass off admirably for the seedier side of Nairobi. Helen Mirren is as solid as ever, but still feels a bit too ‘Mirren’ for my liking. Issues of ‘collateral damage’ are discussed, and the moral implications of drone strikes are addressed.

This is a serious film, with high levels of tension, and still very relevant in the modern world.
I recommend it, and together with ‘Good Kill’, it is a fine example of a modern war film, where a war is fought by remote control.

The trailer looks ‘blank’, but it does play when you click on the arrow.

29 thoughts on “Just been watching…(82)

  1. I caught that one at the cinema and really enjoyed it. The technical side of things is well done, as you say, the acting is spot-on as well, and the moral implications of what we often see in the news and how decisions are taken make one think. Drones do not fly alone, and “collateral damage” are not so collateral to relatives and friends. I haven’t watched ‘Good Kill’ but will keep my eyes open for it. Thanks, Pete!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. One I’ve seen and would also recommend, I found myself questioning what would have happened if a decision had been made earlier and how the outcome could have changed, worth a revisit to consider the options. Your review is spot on as ever, but at least this time I dont have to add it to the list 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Drones are operated out of Creech Air Force Base 45 miles northwest of Las Vegas. I’ve passed by there more than a few times, and once saw a drone landing. I hope the Nevada scenes in the film were convincing, assuming there were some that took place outside. The area has an otherworldly look to it, and isn’t far from Area 51 as the drone flies… Speaking of drone flies, I wonder how many of those annoying artificial insects the Kenyan undercover agent had at his disposal in the film?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Creech is the base featured in this film, David. The scenes there are mostly inside, but the few exterior shots show lots of unusual ‘pods’, in a bleak landscape. I was convinced. 🙂
      He only had one ‘insect-cam’, and had to leave it behind.
      Best wishes, Pete.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Funnily enough I watched this last night (recorded it a while ago) and was very impressed. Kept my attention right until the end. I must admit the “toing and froing” and passing the buck in that room was annoying me, especially the female politician. I won’t say any more so as not to spoil the movie for anyone, but I agree it is one to watch and think about. Mirren was Mirren, but Alan Rickman was excellent.

    Liked by 1 person

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