Eye in the Sky is a movie that seemed to come out of nowhere, at least for me, because I had never heard of it until the day I actually went along to see it. Luckily, it was very good.
This movie is a very contemporary military drama film, centred around a single, probably fictionalised, operation of 5 Al-Shabab targets and the attempt to capture them in Kenya. The film focuses on the behind the scenes joint operation, with the political leaders and the General (Alan Rickman), to Colonel Powell in charge of overseeing the operation (Helen Mirren) and even the drone operators, one of which is played by Aaron Paul. Also shown is the life of a local Kenyan family, adding the human cost element to complement the decision making. The drama centres around the indecision that occurs when the mission changes from a capture to shoot to kill. Lots of arguments, indecision, bureaucracy and frustration arises out of the inability to actually make a decision, especially with the occasional spanner thrown in the works that make it even more difficult. This is where most of the drama happens and it is incredibly engaging, it is like a contemporary military 12 Angry Men, trying to assure themselves they are legally in the clear and the ministers worrying about how the situation will make them look.
Everything in the film is very believable, from the look of the locations, behaviour of characters and the premise of the narrative. While I’m not an expert in the moment to moment nature of joint military operations, but the point is, it feels grounded in reality. The camera work here is also generally quite stationary and static, providing clear and clean visuals. It also complements the generally slow pace of the film due to the nature of it’s narrative, with the film running at about an hour and forty minutes. With this slow pace and very focused narrative, a tight pace is maintained and characters allowed to be developed not through exposition, but through the decisions they make (or lack thereof) and how they react. There’s nothing fancy or showy here, even in the visuals or sound, but the production values are quite good even with the obvious CGI drone.
As far as the soundtrack is concerned, it’s not great or anything terribly special but it does it’s job of setting the mood of a scene. It’s a tight script and a story well told and manages to deliver it’s content without burdening the audience with too much military or legalistic jargon.
If you like TV series such as Homeland, I think Eye in the Sky would be right up your alley.