Eye In The Sky – Motion Picture Maniac
I think about the only reason to not see this movie is if you have some kind of heart condition because Eye In The Sky made my heart thump and pound so fast I thought it was going to burst from my chest like a new born xenomorph. Guys, I am a hardened veteran of cinema, I have seen some intense stuff, a whole manner of films praised for their ability to induce cardiac arrests but holy hell, Eye In The Sky is, and I swear this is no exaggeration, one of the most intense and heart stopping thrillers I think I have ever seen, literally-literally-LITERALLY!!! I was on the edge of my seat from beginning to end, trying to control myself and stop my heart from exploding, sounds ridiculous I know but trust me, this-THIS is some intense shit.
This film, despite being 102 minutes, really only consists of a single scene, and what that scene consists of is a hard no nonsense colonel played by Helen Mirren trying to get permission for a drone strike which, as you can imagine, is easier said than done. This film isn’t structured with three acts, it doesn’t even feel broken up into different scenes, it is one scene, that happens to take place around different parts of the world as a multitude of perspectives weigh in on the morality of using a drone for the particular mission at play, we have Mirren and her team at Northwood Headquarters, Aaron Paul playing the Drone’s pilot in Las Vegas, Barkhad Abdi (nice to see him back on the screen) as an agent deep within enemy territory providing surveillance on the ground, all the while having to constantly look over his shoulder, and of course, the late great Alan Rickman in his final live action role as a lieutenant General overseeing the mission from London with a group of government agents.
All of these people, across different parts of the world, are all looking through the same cameras, at the same event, thinking and debating on how to handle it best what are they looking at? There is a target, wanted for capture, hiding within Al-Shabaab occupied Kenya, a terror suspect, they can see this person of interest, our main players have them right in their sights, but from there, certain things happen, the risk becomes greater and the situation intensifies, the whole mission transforms into a heated and relentless moral debate over whether or not firing a missile would morally reprehensible, not at all because the terrorists would die, but for something else entirely, I won’t spoil why the mission becomes complicated, but my word, I was sweating throughout this entire movie, I think I’ve bitten my nails down to the knuckle, how am I typing this?
Eye In The Sky is great, it is a monstrously intense and relentless thought provoker with true depth and complexity that had me so close to the edge of my seat I almost fell off, my nerves got so bad I really struggled to stop tapping my feet. As far as filmmaking is concerned, this is a towering achievement rife with an unforgiving atmosphere and powerful tension, the directing is flawless and I actually haven’t been all that much of a fan of Gavin Hood in the past, I never knew he had this in him, the editing is fantastic, the visual aesthetic is grand to behold, but the real kicker for me was the script.
This film was written by Guy Hibbert, whom you may know from films like Five Minutes Of Heaven or Omagh, which he co-wrote with Paul Greengrass incidentally, and I mean this from the bottom of my heart, the script to Eye In The Sky is truly Oscar worthy, despite fundamentally taking place over a single scene, the film never forgets to give its characters dimensions, personalities and depth, and the story is so just so well told I can’t let it get away without first giving it all the praise I’m capable of giving. I suppose you could say there were a few instances towards the beginning of the film in which I found the cinematography to be underwhelming, despite having an overall great visual aesthetic as I mentioned earlier, but that’s really my only flaw with the film, and speaking of Paul Greengrass, I think if he had directed this film with cinematographers Oliver Wood or Barry Ackroyd, this film would have been even better, and it’s already outstanding.
Now the performances, Helen Mirren has this way about her that makes her seem like one tough old bird, in this movie I certainly wouldn’t want to mess with her, you can just feel the headache inducing frustration her character is plagued with throughout this whole thing. Aaron Paul proves he is an actor with some real range, most famous for his role as Jesse from Breaking Bad, here he couldn’t be more different, he’s the man at the trigger, if he gets the green light then it is he who must fire the flying death shell into a civilian populated area, the pressure that comes with this situation is beautifully realized through his facial expressions and I really felt for his character. Barkhad Abdi reminds us why he got the recognition he got from Captain Phillips, playing the most action oriented character, the man who isn’t physically safe in a room in a different country merely observing through cameras and drones, he is in it deep, desperately trying to create or control situations around the intended blast zone so that firing a missile would cause more trouble than what’s accepted.
Here I saved the best for last, Alan Rickman, every minute of screen time he has is cast over with the poignancy I can’t quite explain, just seeing him play this worn and revered General as he steals the entire movie like an absolute boss almost brought a tear to my eye, he doesn’t have my praise because he simply isn’t with us any more, but because his performance is both admirably badass and likeably human, he plays the best character in the movie and he plays it like the legend we all knew him to be, every line he spoke reminded me why he was such a great actor and the last line he has at the end, without spoiling anything, just sent chill after chill right down my spine, Rickman was a great actor and I can’t think of a better note for him to leave us on, at least in regards to live action, hopefully Alice Through The Looking Glass won’t fail at what this film succeeded in.
This is about as grey as it gets, there is no definitive answer to the moral question of the situation, there is nothing at all preachy about it, every character has an opinion on the matter and none are without some form of merit, while I myself have my own opinion on the matter, the side I disagreed with was not totally wrong. There is talk of politics but no political stance is taken, there isn’t a question being asked in regards to good guys and bad guys, it’s much deeper and much more complex than that kind of simplicity, it’s asking if the good outweighs the bad, if the tough decision is really the right decision and it never really answers them by itself, by the end it’s up to your own interpretation on the matter and while certain happenings occur that could make one presume this film has a one-sided agenda, if you think about it it’s only exploring as many possibilities and outcomes as it can and leaves no argument of either debate uncovered or untouched. The film doesn’t tell you what side is right, it only makes every theory on how this situation could end a reality and with those realizations right on your face, and lets you make up your own mind.
I loved this movie, it was something else, the kind of cinematic experience that doesn’t come often, do not miss this one, it’s a political thriller unlike any other, just one scene, one situation and one question, would firing this missile do more good than bad, or more bad than good? The fact that it concerns different people from all over the world, trying to work out a problem that is extremely relevant to the modern state we are currently living in when it comes to how we fight our wars, really make this one feel epic, it’s intense, relevant, well acted, well written, important and thought provoking beyond belief.