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Within the war on terror are many women and men who know the consequences of inaction, but when their actions involve killing innocents, especially children, so comes the question of what can be an ends to a means, and who should bear the weight of such a decision? Which is what Eye in the Sky explores.
Earlier this year I decided that I wasn’t going to run to New York just because films like this would be in limited release and wouldn’t expand for weeks, if not a month or two. Now, in the past, I have made the same decision and have come to regret it. With this film though I don’t for while the performances are brilliant, it suffers the same issue many of these military films dealing with the topic of terrorism have. One in which the terrorist are made into nothing more but foreign names, instant villains based off what they’ve done and we are told nothing as to why they took up this fight.
Main Storyline (with Commentary)
It is a new day and after years of surveillance, men on the ground acting as spies, and many prayers, 3 high valued targets are within the same building. To Colonel Katherine Powell (Helen Mirren) this is a blessing. However, before she can see these dangerous individuals no longer a threat to the local Kenyan people, much less the world, she needs permission to act. Reason being, she wishes to kill these men rather than capture them, something which wasn’t part of the original plan.
Thus leading to a film in which not only is the legal right of killing an American and British citizen weighed, but also the morality and political aspect of it. Though most of all, when a young girl enters the blast radius, so comes the question of that girl’s value vs. the value of the many lives which will surely be killed if she isn’t just considered collateral. A decision Colonel Powell isn’t fully able to make, so the decision-making bounces from person to person for no one wants blood on their hands.
With the names Helen Mirren and Alan Rickman, naturally one should expect some of the best performances. For these two are the type of actors who even without the best script, or the best co-workers, they can drive something basic or mediocre into something better. Luckily for them, though, with an excellent cast and well-paced tension, even as there is a game of hot potato in terms of someone making a decision, this film flourishes.
Though I’m probably alone on this, I would love for a film to show both sides to a story. Have it where one side we get an unbiased point of view of the locals, and the other side the western nations who feel they are terrorist. The reason I say that is, as much as one could praise the performances in films like this, it feels like we make the would-be villain clear from the start. Which I don’t say to sound like a sympathizer, but more so because something has to inspire these groups and I don’t think religion is always the sole key. After all, western nations, be it the US or Britain, have exploited these countries which hold those we call terrorist and oppressed them for generations. Yet, each and every movie just makes it solely about religion, forgetting that religion, whether it is in the middle east or America, is but an umbrella the people gather under to unite against oppressive forces.
On The Fence
Part of the reason for a TV Viewing label is because, as much as the Kenyan government is represented and part of the task force, there feel like not enough of the actual Kenyan people involved. What I mean by this is, despite one little girl who is supposed to be the one who keeps you on the edge of your seat, the fact everyone else is looked on as expendable drives a stake through what emotions that situation would elicit. For it doesn’t take into account the main issue which comes with drone strikes, which is the death of people who, without warning, could die for being at the wrong place at the wrong time. Now, one could argue the character Angela (Monica Dolan) was supposed to be this voice. However, I didn’t feel as if she necessarily cared about the Kenyans who would be hurt as much as she cared about political fallout. Thus leaving this movie somewhere between American Sniper and Good Kill.
Which is to say, it has the American Sniper take of not developing the would-be villains and just labeling them as terrorists without reason and expecting us to fall in line, yet it has Good Kill’s sense of morality. For while many of those who yell and give orders do show signs of wear in their decision making, yet it is the two drone operators, Steve (Aaron Paul) and Carrie (Phoebe Fox), who will have the blood on their hands for they are the ones to pull the trigger. Thus making them, as they scout for dead bodies, and see who ended up collateral damage, the ones who will have to realize they directly took a life. Yes, it was based on orders, clearances, and all that, but they are the ones who pulled the trigger. Making them accomplices and the killers.