Review: Eye in the Sky

As my wife is away for the week, I have spent every possible day watching movies. Tonight, I skipped my night class to go see Eye in the Sky with my youngest brother, and it was unexpectedly phenomenal.


One aspect to note about this movie is that this is one of Alan Rickman’s final films. Yes, he will be in the new Alice in Wonderland movie that will come out, but considering that it is a voice acting role, this is the last movie we will see Rickman’s face in. Thankfully, it was in a exceptional role in a fantastic film.

In fact, the two best performances are from Alan Rickman himself and from Helen Mirren, but every single role was very well casted. I personally thought it was nice to see Aaron Paul do something great after Breaking Bad, and there are a few other recognizable faces in the film as well. There was not one weak performance among them.




The premise is very simple: the military is tracking down some of the most wanted terrorists in Kenya. Aaron Paul’s character serves as the drone pilot who spies on the targets and is the American and British (and a few other countries) military’s Eye in the Sky. This one event spans over the entire movie and shows the complications and intricacies about performing such military actions, one of them being just how many people from all sides of the country have to work on just one military operation. It was astounding just how many people are involved. The intricacies, however, are not only strategical ones; there are also legal, procedural, and moral ramifications to any action they take.


And because there are moral ramifications to whatever decision is made, you begin to see these military and government officials begin to take sides on what exactly needs to be done. Unlike most movies, both sides of the moral issue have viable explanations. I for one knew exactly which side I was on, but I was well aware that if someone had a different moral or political philosophy than I did, then they could very well side with the other people. It was extraordinarily fascinating.


I felt the entire array of emotions watching this movie. Eye in the Sky is enthralling, frustrating, suspenseful, and even occasionally humorous all at the same time.




This film is exceedingly proficient in their use of time; not only do they execute the premise well, but they also have very small scenes in and around the movie that humanize many of our characters. You get this feeling that you are watching real live characters because of how great of a job they did with this movie. Not only that, but I even found myself agreeing with some characters, and then the character does something morally ambiguous and I found myself beginning to disagree with their antics. In a short amount of time and with seemingly little effort, Eye in the Sky somehow manages to flesh out all of its characters.




This is a fantastic example of how it’s not what the movie’s about but how the sequence of events are executed. Again, the premise of this movie is extremely simple, but the fact that we have an exceptionally talented cast and a competent director means that the simple premise goes a long way. If given to other directors and actors, this movie more than likely would not be as fantastic as it is.

This, by the way, is the main complaint that I had with Batman v Superman: that it was severely incompetent with being able to manage its time, and it is why I give almost all the blame to being a terrible movie on Zack Snyder.



But I digress. I highly recommend seeing this movie. I was pleasantly surprised with just how fantastic this movie is, and it got even better the more I thought about it. I’m not so confident as to say this film gets a perfect rating yet… but I plan on watching it again to see if I can justify giving it one. This film is extremely well executed, and I wish more movies were like this, and I’m giving this movie a 9 out of 10.


UPDATE: I was able to watch this movie again with my father, and it did not get better; it actually got worse.

What this movie originally did well was create a large amount of tension. However, after viewing the movie again a second time, the tension was naturally not felt the same way, and I became more capable of recognizing the issues within this movie. For starters, the dialogue in this film is relatively lackluster. I forgave the simplistic dialogue the first time because this was a movie about soldiers and generals, so having fantastic dialogue did not seem like a must-have. Upon the second watch, I realized just how simplistic and occasionally frivolous the lines were.

On top of that (and this is something my dad pointed out, and I think there’s merit to it), but the film really does not treat the military with much respect. Can’t really talk about this in detail without spoiling the movie, so here’s your warning.


<SPOILER> So in the end, the military finally gains clearance to strike the targets. However, the explosion does end up seriously injuring the young girl that was close by. Even though they just killed number two, three, and four on Kenya’s most wanted list, there is no celebration. There is no cheering for killing three individuals that would have obviously killed many, many people. Instead, every single person is anywhere between solemn and tearful, and no one treats it as a victory. It was as if the movie was implying that every single person should have felt guilty for accomplishing their mission because of one single life, and I personally found that rather disgusting. Considering this movie played both sides for the rest of the movie before, it would have been nice to see a differentiation in response to accomplishing the mission. Sure, Aaron Paul’s character and a few others, according to their characters, should have felt terrible about the child dying, but there should have been people celebrating because they outed the baddies. Now, I realize this criticism is a bit more subjective than the dialogue criticism, so it’s not like this criticism is a substantial detractor. However, upon my second viewing, I remembered the quote they put in the first part of the movie which was something to the effect of “In war, the first casualty is truth”. Obviously, this movie had more of an agenda than I originally remembered. </SPOILER>


Also, whenever they have a close-up of Aaron Paul handling the controller, they put in this post-production effect that was incredibly cheesy and unnecessary.


Also, the scene they decided for put into the credits was stupid.


So, unfortunately, this movie did not hold up to closer scrutiny. Without the tension factor, this movie is not quite as powerful as it was the first viewing. I was seriously hoping I would walk out of this movie a second time comfortably giving it a 10 out of 10. Instead, I am forced to push back my rating. It’s still a great movie to see once, and there are still some great performances in there, but after the first viewing, I would advise not touching this movie again, and I’m giving this movie a 7 out of 10.