Eye in the Sky is one of the toughest movies I’ve ever watched. Packed with award-worthy performances — including Alan Rickman’s last — it globe hops as military and political officials around the world argue protocol and morality over a shot at wiping out a terrorist cell.
The dilemma faced is a little girl selling food on a street in front of a house packed with men pledging jihad and putting on vests with bombs attached. She’ll die if the drone charged with killing the terrorists unleashes its payload.
Helen Mirren stars as Col. Katherine Powell, a British officer charged with a terrorist operation. She has been following these people via satellite and on the ground. Since they’re all in one place, she wants to kill them. It’s her usual great performance and has an intensity that matches the power of the film.
Rickman is the general who is meeting with influential politicians who can veto the deal. He’s perfectly low key and balances the almost manic Mirren. Aaron Paul (TV’s Breaking Bad) is the drone pilot in the United States who is caught in the middle.
Screenwriter Guy Hibbert, via intense dialogue and powerful performances, asks important and — in this case — real life damned-if-you-do and damned-if-you-don’t questions. Is the girl’s life more important than the lives of those the men will kill if they leave the house?
Director Gavin Hood has put together a battle of wills. It is a confrontation flick that would make masters of the art like Alfred Hitchcock proud. Hood — who is best known for super hero and fantasy movies — takes this exceptional, no easy answers screenplay and the brilliant, uncomfortable performances and pummels you.
While not for everyone, this is definitely one of 2016’s best.
Eye in the Sky
Director: Gavin Hood
Stars: Helen Mirren, Alan Rickman, Aaron Paul, Phoebe Fox
Mr. Movie rating: 5
Rated R for mature themes, violence. It’s playing at the Carmike 12.
5 stars to 4 1/2 stars: Must see on the big screen.
4 stars to 3 1/2 stars: Good film, see it if it’s your type of movie.
3 stars to 2 1/2 stars: Wait until it comes out on DVD.
2 stars to 1 star: Don’t bother.
0 stars: Speaks for itself.