Review: Eye in the Sky


A painfully tense, thrilling and thought provoking film which will reshape your views on morality

  • 10

Gavin Hood’s latest film Eye in the Sky encompasses all of the elements which make an incredible and memorable film. It is thrilling, captivating, and painfully tense. The very best films are the ones which leave us thinking about it days after watching, and Eye in the Sky is certainly one of these.

Colonel Katherine Powell (Helen Mirren), a military commander, is in charge of a top secret drone strike against key members of the terrorist group Al-Shabaab in Kenya. However the mission escalates when a young girl enters the collateral damage zone which threatens the whole mission. Colonel Powell and her team in London, America and Kenya are forced to make an incredibly difficult decision.

Shot in real time, Eye in the Sky is incredibly powerful in allowing the audience to feel completely immersed in the drama. There is not a single moment left to relax during the narrative, as the mission is a race against time to eliminate the target before it is too late. The amount of thought which goes into making the correct legal, military and moral decision is exhausting to watch, and at the same time frustrating that the decision cannot be more simple.

The several simultaneous narratives adds to the drama as we see the painful yet understandably slow decision making process. Lieutenant General Frank Benson, played by the late Alan Rickman is a key member of the decision making process yet has to consult various political advisors before giving approval for the strike. Hood does an exceptional job at presenting the various perspectives on an inconceivably difficult issue. The messages presented in the film could have very easily been delivered in a preachy and unsubtle way, yet they are instead worked carefully into the dialogue and delivered effortlessly, especially by Rickman who was rightly cast in a role which not many others could perform so well.

Other performances stood out also, including Mirren in the leading role. Her determined nature and harsh attitude towards the situation was delivered powerfully and allowed a moving insight into this nightmarish job. A particular stand out performance though, was that of Aaron Paul who plays drone pilot Steve Watt, whose job is to make the final push of the button which launches the missile. Despite Paul not delivering as many lines as other characters did, his physical acting was exceptional and proved his ability to portray emotion even when he wasn’t speaking. The emotional toll on his character is palpable and truly distressing to watch.

The use of location was another one of the film’s strengths which allowed the audience to see action on the ground in Kenya through the aid of the Kenyan surveillance team including Jama Farah (Barkhad Abdi). The film was not biased to one side of the debate, but instead gave an insight into the various attitudes which arise from the many people involved in different parts of the world all working on the same mission.

Eye in the Sky is an exceptionally well-made film and is gripping throughout. Every actor excels in their performance and all contribute in making Eye in the Sky the exhilarating yet thought-provoking film it is.

Eye in the Sky (2016), directed by Gavin Hood, is distributed in the UK by Entertainment One. Certificate 15. 


About Author


Former Film Editor for The Edge, second year history student, Irish dancer and film enthusiast. My biggest inspiration is by Bear Grylls. Yes Bear Grylls. Originally from West London.


    • avatar
      Hollie Geraghty on

      Completely agree. I couldn’t believe that there hadn’t been more hype around the film. A shame that so many people won’t know what they’re missing!

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