Eye in the Sky

Directed By: Gavin Hood

Starring: Helen Mirren, Aaron Paul, Alan Rickman, and Barkhad Abdi

There may never be another like the late great Alan Rickman.  He truly was a distinguished thespian whose every word was delivered in a savory, captivating manner on the big screen.  Whether you remember him as Hans Gruber, Sheriff George, Severus Snape, or any of the many other characters he's portrayed over the years, I pray you don't remember him for his final role as Blue Caterpillar in the upcoming Alice Through the Looking Glass.  It’s just wrong for this to be his final film on so many levels.  Luckily, there's one other performance from Rickman making its way to the big screen after his tragic death.  That's his turn as Lieutenant General Frank Benson in this weekend's drone thriller Eye in the Sky.  From the moment he moseys onto the screen in Gavin Hood's latest feature until the moment he wistfully walks off camera one last time, Rickman's unique ability to inhabit the big screen with a mysterious allure is on full display one more time.

High profile terrorists are staying at a home in Nairobi, Kenya, and British military intelligence officer Colonel Katherine Powell (Helen Mirren) is hot on their trail.  These terrorists are all members of an organization known as Al Shabab and are ranked numbers two, four, and five on the terror watchlist in the region.  Two of them are British citizens; another is an American.  Regardless, Colonel Powell has been after these terrorists for years and may just have the opportunity to finally strike them down. With the help of American Air Force drone pilots Steve Watts (Aaron Paul) and Carrie Gershon (Phoebe Fox) as her eye in the sky, her mission is to use the resources at her disposal to capture these terrorists before they carry out whatever devastating plans they have in mind.  The rules of engagement become a bit of an obstacle as the situation progresses because it’s becoming increasingly clear that a kill is more likely than a capture.  With this in mind, she turns to her superior, Lieutenant General Frank Benson (Rickman).  Meanwhile, Kenyan undercover agent Jama Farah (Barkhad Abdi) tries to infiltrate the terrorist haven by less traditional means.

Never tell a soldier that he doesn't know the cost of war if Eye in the Sky is any proof.  I could cut the tension with a knife in Eye in the Sky.  Two opposing viewpoints clash in grand cinematic style with overarching commentary on the dangerous, complicated world in which we live today.  On one hand, you have the impulse to stop terrorists from wreaking havoc.  Essentially, the needs of the many outweigh those of the few.  On the other hand, you have certain boundaries that just are not right to cross.  Doing so is both inconceivable and unforgivable.  Deftly navigating both viewpoints, Gavin Hood impressively grapples with complex legal, political, and moral issues from start to finish in his latest feature film.  Boldly envisioned, meticulously crafted, and solidly executed, Eye in the Sky is a rollercoaster ride that will resonate with just about every moviegoer.

It certainly helps that Hood has assembled a terrific ensemble here, headlined by the likes of Helen Mirren, Alan Rickman, Aaron Paul, and Barkhad Abdi.  For her part as our lead Colonel Katherine Powell, Mirren brings a steely determination that knows few bounds, especially not moral ones.  Wearing a grimace the entire film as she quarterbacks an increasingly controversial operation, the veteran actress is pitch perfect.  For his part as Lieutenant General Frank Benson, Rickman makes the politics of this story as savory and entertaining as the situation unfolding on the ground.  In his final lead role, he's the Alan Rickman we know and love stealing one scene after another with one of the film’s most intriguing characters.  We'll definitely miss him.  For his part as Air Force drone pilot Steve Watts, Breaking Bad star Aaron Paul serves as the film's moral compass in a rather gutsy performance.  Finally, Barkhad Abdi offers a crafty, resilient character as Jama Farah.

Eye in the Sky
is a thrilling feature film that dabbles in greatness.  Gavin Hood's latest work gets a 0.03% rating.  Have some wine coolers with this one.