Movie Review – ‘Eye In The Sky’

“Engaging!  On target.  The most important take-away from the film is the stark moral and ethical differences between terrorist groups such as ISIS and the rest of the civilized world.”

Patrick King, REEL BRIEF

Eye in the Sky Movie

As the popularity and proliferation of drone activity has recently migrated over to commercial and private use, many questions raised over privacy and intrusion issues originated nearly three decades ago in the military. These flying eyes in the sky were developed as expendable forms of intelligence-gathering, the premise that a sneak peek of the adversary was worth a thousand air sorties. Over time and numerous military campaigns, though, drones have become one of the most sought after platforms in the war on terrorism.

South African filmmaker Gavin Hood takes viewers into Kenya, where we find several of the world’s most wanted terrorists plotting and planning mass suicide missions from within the cover of innocent civilians of a Nairobi neighborhood. From here the stakes only grow. As high-tech facial recognition must positively identify the persons in the house-turned-into-bomb factory, British military leaders must grapple with disturbing surveillance images from an American drone overhead and decide if their capture mission should change to a kill operation.

This film does an honorable job at highlighting the rapidly changing circumstances and intel surrounding high-valued targets. It focuses on the need for timely and bold decision-making by civilian leadership, who find themselves knee-deep in battlefield execution, personally authorizing triggers to be pulled on missiles. The movie walks viewers along the fine line between the rules of engagement and use of force inside a sovereign nation, taking us on the high road towards proportionality and minimizing risk to civilians.

“Eye In The Sky” also illustrates how our history of using smart bombs has raised civilian expectations for the military to achieve perfectionism against an enemy with a vote. Where pin-point accuracy must avoid collateral damage and innocent deaths at almost any cost. After all, the public relations campaign is as important as the air campaign itself.

eye-in-the-sky-movie LEAD

The most important take-away from the film is the stark moral and ethical differences between terrorist groups such as ISIS and the rest of the civilized world. We see an enemy that lives and hides within the population it seeks to destroy. We see the difficulty in identifying friend from foe when the enemy doesn’t wear military uniforms or abide by laws of armed conflict. We see an enemy that uses public places as its battlefield to kill and maim harmless non-combatants.

The movie flaws I found rest solely with its depiction of the military apparatus, particularly the cross-pollination of joint forces using a simplified chain of command of British officers calling the shots over American drone operators. Angst and the difficulty dealing with war trauma is understandable post-mission, but a mid-mission meltdown by both drone operators showed a need for them to find another line of work.

“Eye In The Sky” brings value to Americans not yet fully engaged in the threats posed to our nation by terrorist organizations. Since 9/11 our national security policy calls for commercial airliners with terrorist intentions to be shot down in order to protect highly populated areas. “Eye In The Sky” puts that policy into full perspective.

Grade: B

“Eye In The Sky” is rated R for some violence, images and language.  Its running time is 1 hour and 42 minutes.

© 2016, Patrick. All rights reserved.

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