Blu-Ray review – Eye in the Sky

It’s always interesting to see an actor’s final film if they hit a certain status. Alan Rickman’s career seemed to be cut short with his death in January despite a fairly legendary film resume. It’s odd to think of an actor who can be an anchor of the Harry Potter franchise, the greatest action movie villain ever and the brightest part of Sweeney Todd‘s film adaptation … on top of an extraordinary career without these. Eye in the Sky will be remembered as Rickman’s cinematic departure more than anything else; otherwise it’s a forgettable film about an interesting dilemma in modern counter-terrorism operations.

Eye in the Sky is a sort of hypertext type of film following a drone attack on a group of terrorists. In England a General (Rickman) leads a group of legislators who give the green light on whether or not to ok a drone strike. A colonel on the ground (Helen Mirren) is in command of a strike team. An American pilot (Aaron Paul) is in command of the drone ready to drop the payload. What happens is a real time look at what happens when people have to make a lethal decision in less than ideal circumstances.

It’s an interesting picture on a grander philosophical level; the ethics of drone warfare in the modern realm of counter terrorism is certainly worth volumes of text to discuss. The problem is that the film tries to do for drone warfare what Lions for Lambs did for American involvement in the Middle East: make it into something easily digestible and thought provoking but leaving little room for nuance.

That’s ultimately the film’s problem: there’s so much involved that’s intended to be big, dramatic moments that wind up being drowned out by the next big, dramatic moment. The film ratchets the drama up so far and for so long that everything seems massive. There’s no room for those smaller moments that put it in perspective.

Eye in the Sky has everything else you’d want in a thriller like this. It has quality acting, but nothing brilliant, and presents a poignant dilemma about modern technology. The ethics of drone warfare is something to be explored on more than a superficial level, which is essentially what this film is. It’s a cursory look, nothing more, ultimately winds up being the same sort of film that Lions for Lambs was: forgettable.

Two pieces on the ethics of drone warfare are included.

Universal presents Eye in the Sky . Directed by Gavin Hood. Written by Guy Hibbert. Starring Aaron Paul, Alan Rickman, Helen Mirren. Run Time: 102 minutes Rated R. Released on DVD: 6.28.16

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