Director: Gavin Hood
Starring: Helen Mirren, Aaron Paul, Alan Rickman, Barkhad Abdi, Jeremy Northam, Iain Glen, Phoebe Fox
Run Time: 102 mins
In a world where we are exposed to regular terrorism and as drone warfare conflicts our consciences, ‘Eye in the Sky’ couldn’t come at a more sensitive point in time. It also features Alan Rickman’s final live-action performance (he is also in the upcoming ‘Alice Through The Looking Glass’) following his sad and unexpected passing earlier on in the year. The film also features Helen Mirren, Aaron Paul and Barkhad Abdi, the latter’s first role after a fantastic turn in ‘Captain Phillips’ which he was Oscar-nominated for. The film is directed by Gavin Hood who has a very patchy track-record, winning the Best Foreign Language film in 2005 for ‘Tsotsi’ but then directing ‘Rendition’ and ‘Ender’s Game’, both duds and the critically disastrous ‘X-Men Origins: Wolverine’ which I happened to really like. So with a lower budget and considerably less pressure, can Gavin Hood restore his talent in a film that doesn’t get mired in big budget special effects.
‘Eye in the Sky’ is a taut and heartfelt application of the effects of drone warfare that is morally conflicting and features some fantastic performances – it’s straight up there as one of the best films of the year and is just what Gavin Hood needed. It is expertly paced and runs an economical yet efficient 102 minutes, enough to make a lasting impression on audiences and poses lots of moral arguments. The only reason why it doesn’t quite earn a 5-star rating is because the film doesn’t really develop its characters too much and having slightly more of a human edge to the film wold have informed audiences more coherently as to why characters make the vital choices that they do.
The film features some very realistic and powerful performances and boasts an impressive cast. Helen Mirren as the lead is tough and uncompromising and Aaron Paul gives a surpsingly heartfelt performance as Steve Watts, a drone pilot tasked with firing a Hellfire missile. The late Alan Rickman gives one of the best performances of his career as General Benson who supervises the mission in London. Barkhad Abdi is also great here as an undercover ground agent and proves that his performance in ‘Captain Phillips’ wasn’t a one-time stint, his performance is very raw and human. An excellent cast on paper has delivered.
The film has a great story and many emotional beats – it deals with some very real life consequences of drone warfare and this makes the film all the more human and impressive. The action is very well handled as well and the script by Guy Hibbert is extremely refined. The score by Paul Hepker and Mark Kilian is also very fitting and compliments the action on-screen very well. Simply put, it’s a very well-constructed film both in its cast and crew.
Overall, ‘Eye in the Sky’ is a success for all involved and is a brilliant send-off for Alan Rickman in his final live-action performance. The film confidently handles the moral arguments to drone warfare and there are many decisions that interact with the audience very assuredly and make the film all the more engaging. This is just the project that Gavin Hood needed and this film really showcases his talent for thoughtful and confident directing and this should hopefully lead him onto a more successful career following his mixed filmography so far. But ‘Eye in the Sky’ is very good work – it’s one of the best films of the year so far.