Knowing the cost of war

This is my review of Eye In The Sky [DVD] [2016].

British and American forces combine in the use of cutting-edge technology to locate a band of fundamentalist terrorists, with the aim of capturing them alive to stand trial in their countries of origin, making an example of those with UK or US passports. When this proves impossible, single-minded British Colonel played by Helen Mirren is determined not to let them escape, but what are the moral issues stirred up if they are to be wiped out in a drone attack by a “pilot” activating Hellfire missiles from his base thousands of miles away in the States?

Relying on moments of black humour or poignancy rather than gratuitous violence and mindless action, this at times almost unbearably tense drama presents the arguments on both sides, continually dragging the rug of certainty from under our feet, causing us to vacillate as much as the politicians and lawyers one despises for trying to pass the buck. Although it may not be technically accurate, the film highlights a troubling new aspect of war, in which one side can wreak havoc from an office desk with no personal physical risk, as if playing a computer game set in an alien environment with which one feels no connection, yet may at the same time be confronted by the image of an innocent bystander which one might not encounter as a solder in the adrenalin rush of real action on the ground. My only reservation is whether soldiers trained to be tough killers would be quite as sensitive as some of the characters.

Scoring highly on acting, direction and sets, this film is not only gripping but also provides the basis for in-depth discussion on the most effective and “ethical” use of force against extreme terrorism.

⭐⭐⭐⭐ 4 Stars

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