Celebrated actress Helen Mirren and gifted director Gavin Hood (Rendition, Ender’s Game) team up for a nail-biting thriller in Eye in the Sky, where every passing moment has dire consequences, and the very notion of life and death hang on the edge of a button.
Set in the clandestine cloak and dagger world of international intelligence and drone missions, Eye in the Sky follows military intelligence officer Colonel Katherine Powell (Mirren) as she orchestrates a top-secret search and destroy mission on two suspected suicide bombers. But what starts out as a routine mission, quickly becomes complicated for all those involved as it moves ever closer to its dramatic conclusion.
Hood takes a unique approach and tells this compelling story in real time. Placing his audience right in the eye of the storm, there’s never a moment when you know what’s going to happen next, and Hood keeps the guessing going with his multi-location settings from England and Las Vegas to Kenya and Singapore.
Stealing the film is Mirren as the no-nonsense and obsessed Powell, who has been hunting British terrorist Susan Danford (Lex King) for several years. Mirren shows an obsessive aggression as Powell who will do whatever it takes to get the job done. She completely throws out any ideas of righteousness and has adapted an ‘end that justifies the means’ approach to this mission. As Powell, Mirren is stern, manipulative, and cunning, and while her actions could be seen to make her villainous, Mirren makes her character completely empathetic.
Eye in the Sky has a range of brilliant supporting players, but there are two clear standouts. First, there’s Aaron Paul as USAF Drone Pilot Lt. Steve Watts, an experienced but untested drone pilot, who until now has never had to pull the trigger. But when the situation quickly changes, Watts is faced with an almost unthinkable choice, and his conscience tests him. Paul definitely keeps the audience on edge with his unpredictable behaviour, and his character arc from patriotic pilot to burnt out aviator is impressive to watch.
In addition to Paul, Alan Rickman provides a steady hand in one of his final performances as Lt. General Frank Benson, who is dealing with second guessing politicians, and an overeager officer in the form of Powell. His balancing act performance is a credit to his vast skills as a performer, and makes for a triumphant final performance.
Eye in the Sky is definitely not for the faint of heart, but if you want pulse pounding thrills that will stimulate you both physically and intellectually, then this is the one.