Written by Tommy Tracy
Let’s get this out of the way first; Gavin Hood sucks. He’s done nothing to show a keen eye of directing, spewing out such crap as Enders Game, Rendition and (shudder) X-Men Origins: Wolverine. But when the trailer for Eye in the Sky first made its way into my life, I couldn’t help but be intrigued. Not only did it look great, but it looked like the kind of Oscar worthy film Hood hoped Rendition would be. Plus, seeing the late great Alan Rickman on screen one more time was a must.
Hood succeeds here, for the most part. His eye for camera angles and placement are never in doubt, even in his more maligned work. Drone warfare is a legitimate topic to be discussed in today’s age and that’s exactly what happens here. Sky is first and foremost a discussion disguised as a thriller, executed to make its viewer think about the morality of this type of warfare. Should we truly be using drones to spy on terrorists to find our targets? Can we be just and fair on these criminals? Should we be putting innocents in danger just to eliminate a threat? All this and more are brought up in this film, carefully mixing thrills with subdued action.
Bare in mind, this film has a lot of dialogue, filling up most of its 102-minute runtime with arguments, ideas and potential consequences. This may be a bit detrimental to the film because general audiences don’t want to just see people discuss world problems. They have a lot to say and everything is necessary but sadly, some people may be bored by it. I, however enjoyed it.
Helen Mirren, per usual, is incredible, portraying a hard-nosed colonel trying to solve these problems. Alan Rickman (in his last physical role) is also great, very, well, Alan Rickman-like. We all know the voice and the iteration of words and he knocks it out of the park. If the Academy can remember this far back come next year’s nomination time, I see a posthumous nod in his future. Aaron Paul is a fresh young triggerman, unsure of his role in war. And Captain Phillips’ Barkhad Adbi rounds out the cast as a Kenyan double agent. Sadly, he’s the weak link here, never commanding the screen as he did in Phillips.
Eye in the Sky is a definite success; a true thriller smashing through in a box office dominated by superhero flicks (I love them, though), remakes and teen book adaptations. These are real-life situations, dominated by heated debates and damn good acting. The screenwriters wisely pay more attention to the current situation and don’t bog the film down with needless exposition and action (but there is some well placed action). Sadly, the material may not be exactly what audiences are looking for. A great film such as this can be great but that doesn’t mean audiences are going to rush and see it. You should, however, give it a shot if it’s in a theater near you (currently it’s running in a limited release schedule).