Do you remember those " Balloon Debates" at school where the most articulate kids verbally fought for the chance not to be thrown out of the sinking airship? Depending on the strength of the arguements, I always tottered between one and another, swayed by emotion and logic.
Eye In The Sky relies heavily on that notion of powerful arguement as the film is set in the new moral maze of drone warfare.
Put simply, military compounds in the Uk and the US watch a Muslim terrorist cell in a township in Kenya. The cell houses known insurgents as well as two suicide bombers and in real time we watch as the far removed military personnel who make the kill decisions and the politicians who sanction them, deal with the knotty ethical and practical decisions of taking out the terrorists in a friendly county where local innocents ( namely a small Muslim girl selling bread) will be killed in the crossfire.
It's a taut and at times unbearably tense movie that never quite takes one side or another, and it's that very ambiguity that unsettles the watcher so effectively. As the politicians ( Jeremy Northern and Monica Dolan) seesaw out of making a decisiobn by referring the decision ever upwards, the hard bitten UK based soldiers Alan Rickman and Helen Mirren,who have been chasing the terrorists for six years, try to manipulate the situation to launch the drone, a drone which is piloted remotely by mortified Nevada based soldiers Aaron Paul and rookie Phoebe Fox, who have never killed before.
Interestingly, as all this angst and decision making ensues in America and Britain , only one Somali agent ( Barkhad Abdi) is risking his life to monitor the terrorist cell and in the end only he tries to save the young bread seller from the ensuing attack.
Eye in the Sky leaves the audience divided and thoughtful.
Modern warfare has never been portrayed so chillingly on film since Dr Strangelove