Jean-Paul’s Rating: 5/5 stars
Bottom line: Another excellent rules of engagement movie. Lots of excellent British actors and a few American ones as well. Plus the Somali pirate dude from “Captain Phillips”. OMG! Sell your bread already! Ahhhhh!
“Eye in the Sky” both begins and ends with a young Muslim girl from an unnamed (I think) socially repressive Muslim country fluidly and effortlessly playing with a hula hoop in the privacy of her parents’ yard away from the view of the morals police that patrol just outside their house. I am so jealous of that girl. Not for her social predicament, obviously, but for her ability to, with a tiny flick of movement, command a plastic hoop with a few ball bearings to sway and undulate in hypnotic fashion. The purpose of this opening shot is to let the audience feel empathy for this unknown girl who, while not a key player in the drama, is instrumental in establishing the emotional intensity of the movie. It is quite effective and an indicator of the quality of film making you are going to be treated to.
Like “A War” which I reviewed just a few weeks ago, this is a rules of engagement movie. This one, however, has an international bent to it. The action takes place in four different arenas; a command center in Great Britain where Colonel Katherine Powell (Helen Mirren) leads a task force charged with capturing a British national who has become radicalized; the aforementioned Muslim country where said British national is thought to be and where poor hula hoop girl also happens to live; an Air Force base outside of Las Vegas where drone operator Steve Watts (Aaron Paul) is the eye in the sky for the operation; and a board room in some British governmental building where Lieutenant General Frank Benson (Alan Rickman) is talking through a few high level officials through the operation. As the operation continues, the rules of engagement quickly change and the rest of the movie is dedicated to that process of how/if the rules should change.
This may not sound like the basis for a 5-star movie, but trust me it is. The resulting bureaucratic kerfuffle that erupts is equal parts maddening, comic, and endearing. And throughout it all, there’s little hula hoop girl on the outskirts just living her life as best she can.
“Eye in the Sky” is one of the best movies I’ve seen in a while and it would be a shame for you to pass it up. it has a wonderful cast and a brilliantly told story. Everything about it feels realistic. Even when the story could have taken the easy way out, it continues to stay true to the world as we know it instead of the world we wish we had.