“Never tell a soldier that he does not know the cost of war.”
One of the final lines in Eye of the Sky clinches the theme of the film: no one is innocent, and in a conflict like this no one comes clean. Gavin Hood’s modernized war thriller follows the story of Lieutenant Colonel Frank Benson (Alan Rickman), pilot Steve Watts (Aaron Paul), and Colonel Katherine Powell (Hellen Mirren), a team of military leaders determined to capture or incapacitate a group of high profile terrorists at the risk of collateral damage. Not only is the film a serious breakdown of the process of military protocol, but it also is an expertly constructed moral thriller.
Hood directs the film with such precision, giving each moment a consequence and each character a complete arc. The riveting plot is only emphasized by it’s excellent cast, with Hellen Mirren giving a stern and scarily human performance. Aaron Paul is excellent and very empathetic, but the film’s standout is a brilliant and grizzled performance by the late great Alan Rickman, who’s Academy-Award worthy performance is simply a testament to what the world of cinema lost following Rickman’s passing earlier this year.
Eye in the Sky is a political film, but it doesn’t push any agenda, instead presenting every opportunity to question the actions and events. With a riveting finale, the film is tightly calculated to include it’s entire series of characters and events, allowing for a resonant sense of conclusion and a hint at it’s modern implications. It’s a time capsule for modern warfare, an excellent moral thriller, and a brilliant swan song for one of the industry’s best actors. Grade: -A