By William Wolf


In this age of long distance controlled drones that can aim at very specific targets, “Eye in the Sky,” shown at the 2015 Toronto international Film festival, is certainly timely. Directed by Gavin Hood from a screenplay by Guy Hibbert, the suspenseful film follows one deadly assignment and what complicates it.

The operation is British-led and aimed at a British radical, Aisha Al Hady (Lex King), who has joined a Somali terrorist group and is planning suicide attacks. Helen Mirren plays London-based Colonel Katherine Powell, who has been tracking him and now knows where he is. She is in communication with drone operator Steve Watts (Aaron Paul), who is based in Las Vegas. When he gets the word, he will fire.

But there is an acute problem. A nine-year-old girl has wandered into the target area. The suspense lies in waiting for the child to leave and possibly letting Al Hady escape, or accepting a civilian casualty. We are clued into what Watts sees, so it is as if we are also at the controls.

It is nice to think that so much care would be given to the potential of a civilian casualty. I’m a bit skeptical. While it makes for a taut movie, I wonder whether in a real case, when weighed against a potential enemy strike, the military, whether in the U. S. or Britain, would be so reticent.

In any event, on-screen the tension mounts, and it helps to see Helen Mirren in command. “Eye in the Sky” dramatically poses a moral issue, which can be isolated because of the specific targeting ability. But what about all the mass bombing done in World War II? Or elsewhere? Posted October 26, 2015


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