Review: Eye in the Sky

A very simple story of humanity, thoughtfully told.

The actor-writer-director Gavin Hood follows up the mostly computer-generated Ender’s Game—about a boy training to fight intergalactic war through a simulator that turned out to be real—with a similar but much more realistic battle pitched across nations in Eye in the Sky. Colonel Katherine Powell is played by Helen Mirren—a terrific, welcome force to have in a typically manly environment such as this—and she has learned there is a terrorist cell in Kenya about to execute a suicide bombing in a crowded market. From the United Kingdom, she’s locked onto the house they’re using, and working with a pair of fighter pilots (Aaron Paul and Phoebe Fox) in America who control the missile she wants to use to take out the cell. Then a little girl sets up a table, selling bread to feed her family, in front of the house, and it becomes an escalating moral dilemma: Is the child’s death worth saving hundreds more? Alan Rickman, in one of his final roles, appears as Powell’s husband, also a high-ranking military official—he and Mirren only share a few scenes, but it’s a treat to see these vets play. Hood manages to build much tension between people basically talking on the phone, and inserts action where he can—Barkhad Abdi (Captain Phillips) is working on the ground in Kenya, trying to lure the girl out of range of the missile strike. Its framework, politically charged and internationally reaching as it is, appears complicated, but this is a very simple story of humanity, tensely and thoughtfully told.

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