Eye in the Sky

Eye in the Sky is a powerful look at how people make decisions – or don’t make decisions — when faced with a terrible dilemma.

In Eye in the Sky, there’s at least one thing that doesn’t often happen in real life: there’s almost perfect information. Through the use of modern surveillance technology and assistance from an ally on the ground, British military intelligence, working in England, knows that terrorists are preparing suicide vests. There’s no doubt about the analysis: they can see the terrorists arming inside a surveilled safehouse in Kenya. Colonel Katherine Powell (Helen Mirren), working with American drone pilots operating from Nevada, commands a missile strike on the target.

That’s when things go haywire. A young Kenyan girl brings bread to sell at a table outside the safehouse. If the strike proceeds, she will probably die. If the strike is called off, the terrorists will kill as many as 80 people.

The movie proceeds through a gripping, sometimes agonizing series of delays as Powell requests clearance from military, legal and political superiors. The American pilot struggles with his own decision. Meanwhile, a bug drone in the safehouse transmits video of the terrorists loading and donning the suicide vests.

The movie was intense and surprisingly even-handed. Helen Mirren was brilliant as the focused Colonel Powell, determined to complete the mission. Alan Rickman’s last performance was outstanding.

Eye in the Sky explored the ethical decisions that have always had to be made in warfare – even more immediate in this era of terrorism and targeted death from the sky. It even made the viewer a participant in the drama; as I watched, I weighed the decision just as the characters did.

Even through the tension of delays, as the window of opportunity began to close, it was clear that each character’s viewpoint had validity. Fascinating stuff, especially for a writer.

Here’s more information about Eye in the Sky on IMDb.