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Eye In The Sky  : A Tear In America’s Eye
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Friday, March 18, 2016
Gavin Hood
Helen Mirren, Alan Rickman, Aaron Paul, Barkhad Abdi

Drone strikes by America have always come under fire for the attendant collateral damage on civilians. There’s an element of cold disconnect inferred because unlike hand-to-hand combat, modern day war machinery operates from the comfort of an office thousands of miles away from the target.


But screenplay writer Guy Hibbert and director Gavin Hood take us backstage to watch just how heartbreaking it can be for America to take that call.


The stage is set with sweet little Kenyan girl Alia and her loving parents going about their daily routine. Intelligence reports shared by Britain and the US confirm that in the same neighbourhood, highly valued terror leaders will be gathering for a meeting. Colonel Katherine Powell from England has been tailing Abdullah Al-Hady and his wife, British girl Susan who’s been radicalised as Ayesha, for the last six years.


It’s a joint op by America and Britain with the Rules of Engagement clear that it will be a capture. But when visuals of suicide bombers getting ready for a mission are flashed back from the terror meeting, Colonel Powell wants hellfire at any cost. 


Gavin Hood maintains the tension at all times. An agent going in close enough to direct a beetle into the terror meeting keeps you on the edge.


With Powell in England overseeing the operation and pilots from Nevada Air Base ready to strike, will the prim British give a thumbs up to it? Or let the terrorists slip away? Tension again.


Will little Alia selling her mother’s bread just near the target be saved in time? Will pilots Steve and Carrie on their first real mission hit the button?


It has to be a legal call, a political call and a military call and that’s not instant. The buck is passed from one level to a higher-up in England and in the US. A foreign secretary who has binged on prawns is on the commode and he has to take a call, different from nature’s call of course. The Secretary of State is in China and he has to be consulted.


Helen Mirren is uniform starched as Col Powell who is eager to take down the terror organization, never mind if the collateral percentage must be fudged a little to get a go-ahead from those who make the decisions.  Late Alan Rickman as Lt General Frank Benson who’s in the board room with the Brits to coordinate the operation with Col Powell does all his emoting splendidly from a chair.   


It is a bit of an emotional overdose when a male and a female pilot are cast as soft, tearful Americans who’d rather save a little girl than bomb a houseful of suicide bombers and terrorists. But the message is conveyed when Alan Rick finally says, ‘Never tell a solider he does not know the cost of war.’


For a film that compellingly deals with the emotions and backroom manoeuvres of drone attacks, Eye In The Sky gets a 3.5* rating.


Reviewed by
Bharathi S Pradhan
Senior Journalist & Author


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