I hadn't heard of "Eye in the Sky" until I found it inadvertently on the "Fliks" App on my phone at about 10am. Helen Mirren *and* Alan Rickman put the film miles ahead of any number of computer generated animals in the desirability stakes and I put my money on a 12.20pm session at the Palace Norton Street without anything in the way of qualms and I must admit without having read any reviews. I figured that any project that could attract two actors of the calibre of Mirren and Rickman had to have something to offer and since the trailer didn't imply the doling out of vast salaries, I figured I could expect a good script, the opportunities for decent acting and, likely, good direction. As it turned out my bet on the desirability stakes paid off, but it was a closer race than I would have expected and had it been an actual race at the finish I might well have screamed myself horse, Or hoarse, of course.
The subject is bloody interesting and pertinent. A remotely piloted drone flies around over a war-torn hellhole of a city. ten thousand miles away laundered, pommaded bureaucrats sit around discussing the most efficient way they can use it to kill people to get what they happen to want. Thats the gist of it, there is some emotional knee-jerk McGuffinry thrown into the mix to get the audience to take sides, but as far as I was concerned the "fact" that the target was planning a suicide bombing and other similar blather rather failed to interest me, instead what interested me was this pack of upper crust British sociopaths in the true J.G. Ballard vein doling out unexpected death on the other side of the planet and weighing up the benefits against the consequences in the same way that a small company fine-tunes an advertising campaign.
In fact in that image I am drawing close to what I see as the main flaw in "Eye in the Sky." - throughout the film, the leads never falter in their overpowering respect for human life; voices vibrate with gravitas at the responsibility of their power at blowing the crap out of somebody on the far side of the planet- but there is never much doubt that the targets at the other end of the chain are going to get fucked up - after all, they're a different colour and wear a different kind of hat, and you can't buck those sort of disadvantages- just look at the weight of history. And as far as history goes, just look at YouTube - the people who *really* do this for a living seem to have a far more exuberant attitude to the job - or at least they did until most of the "offensive" videos were redacted, and "Eye in the Sky" appeared. In their absence I am left weighing up the bathos of the feature film against the evidence of "Collateral Damage" (https://collateralmurder.wikileaks.org), But that "Eye in the Sky" is basically propaganda is neither here nor there, given the tenor of the times it could hardly be anything else, but as propaganda goes, it is restrained, and for the most part keeps its bias almost imperceptible.
Its a difficult line to tread and it treads it well, as a film "Eye in the Sky" is consistently engrossing withe the acting, skill and direction of an impressively high standard. Helen Mirren particularly ticked my boxes and I feel no qualms in saying that I gained almost as much pleasure from the sight of her trim camo clad butt as I did from her acting - which is no criticism of the film (or her) but rather an admission of craven fandom for the great Ms Mirren who has been a movie star almost since before I was old enough to appreciate trim bottoms. Alan Rickman too is here in what will probably prove to be his last work and, rather like Peter Sellers he appears to have performed the rather neat trick of capping a good career that had a lot of crappy films in it, with a good performance in a good solid film though while this is no "Being there" neither is it a "Die with a Stiffie" episode and offers some credibility as a serious work. I have every intention of seeing it again and paying more attention to Alan Rickman and perhaps the script than thegenteel magnetism of Ms Mirren, if, in these benighted times, such a thing is actually possible.