Eye in the Sky Blu-ray Review
The technological political war thriller no longer watches the battles being fought by the boots on the ground, but with the digital eyes patrolling the skies. EYE IN THE SKY couldn’t have come at a more pressing time as Western militaries slowly begin to transition towards drone use in combat situations. As highlighted in some news pieces, and now in EYE IN THE SKY, the business of drones isn’t as simple as pointing and clicking a button.
Technology allows for the U.S. and Britain to perform a mission out of Kenya in real-time. British Colonel Katherine Powell (Mirren) and British Lieutenant General Frank Benson (Rickman) are heading the mission, relying on the drone reconnaissance by American drone pilot, Steve Watts (Paul). The real-time video of events is relayed to the involved parties around the world. We watch what they watch and sometimes we feel what they feel.
The drone coasts in the Kenyan air, focusing in on a small impoverished part of an unnamed village. Inside a dusty rust bucket shack is a handful of terrorists, a high value target, and some suicide vests. Now obviously the drone’s eyes can’t pierce the copper colored aluminum chantey, but this Intel comes from one of their undercover intelligence agents on the ground. But the main tension in EYE IN THE SKY comes from the potential consequences of Watts flexing his finger which hangs over the trigger for that drone.
If it weren’t for the wonderful performances, especially Mirren and Rickman, as well as the third act, EYE IN THE SKY would be the driest thriller of the year. Much of the movie is spent with everyone weighing the options of killing the terrorists and attempting to minimize casualties, or weighing the loss of life between the unspecified terrorist attack and the civilians lost in the drone strike. Many of those who are supposed to make a decision instead defer up the chain of command. It feels like I’m watching someone handle a malfunction on a FLIGHT SIMULATOR game.
It’s not until a decision is made that the movie locks you in. EYE IN THE SKY adds an emotional aspect, making everyone wary of committing the act and making one of the civilians on the ground a small girl selling bread to help her family. The movie certainly raises the same old ethical questions of civilian casualties in war, but never really raises the evolved ethical questions that have popped up over the past few years since the advent of drones.
Paul certainly has the acting chops to convey the facial concerns and struggle of someone who’s simply following orders that clearly cut deep to their soul. It’s also not easy for those in charge to make the decision that they know they’ve been trained and told to do. All this is very interesting and does make for a great finale, but where is the real-time 21st century struggle that I expected from a movie about drone warfare?
It never makes a declarative statement about the video game nature of warfare and the sheer terror that third world countries experience from the off-chance that death could come raining from above at any moment. While that may be material for a documentary, there’s certainly the chance to expel upon it in a fictional setting. EYE IN THE SKY is a movie that could have done well before the downside of drones was highlighted in the national media.
Video: (1080p Widescreen 2:39:1) The sterile, cold nature of the booth where the drone is operated to the lavish rooms in the Parliament, everything comes through clear on this blu-ray.
Audio: (English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1) I didn’t really notice a soundtrack, but I certainly noticed the deafening explosion of the drone missile.
Perspectives (1:22): An incredibly brief overview of the movie.
Morals (1:31): Another brief overlook of the movie, featuring various clips from the movie and some snippets of the cast and crew.