“Eye in the Sky”, starring Helen Mirren and the late Alan Rickman, was dropped into Pittsburgh theaters this weekend with no fanfare and virtually no advance marketing previews. I had never heard of it before watching Helen Mirren on Charlie Rose a few nights ago. Both talked about the film extensively and showed several clips. It sounded quite interesting and so I saw it today.
I’m glad I did. This film is an absolute gem of filmmaking. 93% on rotten tomatoes.
The plot involves the classic human dilemma of having to choose the lesser of two available evils within a finite time limit and with the potential for “collateral damage”. Opinions from the military who know the “right” thing to do for maximum benefit and civilian oversight bureaucrats who desire to dilute the consequences of either decision by involving more bureaucrats at higher administrative levels.
“Death from the sky” (Photo) is a very different concept than that of Col. Kilgore and the 1st Air Cav in Vietnam. It was up close and personal. This film vividly shows how modern warfare has become increasingly remote and technological, encompassing remote operatives executing extraordinarily specific objectives. Incredibly clear, focused vision technology from over 20,000 feet in the air and miniature camera that can fit and function inside flying cockroach-sized appliances flying around rooms without notice.
As a bit of an aside, one of the characters in “Eye in the Sky” is a British national named Susan Danford who married Arabic radical and became radicalized herself, adopting the name Ayesha AL-Hady. She was listed in the “most wanted” list of terrorists. Unclear if this is a real person, but there is precedent in American radical political history.
Black radical Joanne Chesimard was a member of the original Black Panther Party (BPP) in the mid-1960s, eventually migrating to the more violent Black Liberation Army (BLA) around 1971. She changed her name to an African version, Assata Shakur (See Photo). She was involved in numerous felonies and the killings of several State Troopers, eventually caught in 1973 and after numerous trials, sentenced to life imprisonment in 1977.
In 1979 she escaped from prison in a daring jailbreak aided by the BLA and was secreted out of the country to Cuba where she resides to this day. She continues to spew rather outdated radical diatribe on a website bearing her name. In 2013, she was added to the “Most Wanted Terrorist List”, the first woman to be listed. The FBI continues to classify her as a “domestic terrorist” and continues to offer a $1 million reward for assistance in her capture. One wonders if she might be a target of a similar action as described in this film if she could be accurately located.
“Eye in the Sky” offers no particular political message, partisan or otherwise, just a thoughtful film about the consequences of increasingly impersonal and long-distance warfare. An absolute nail-biter of a thriller playing out in real time with edge-of-your-seat suspense on every link of the chain.
Quick aside factoids: Senior female officers in the British Army are referred to as “Mum”. The fatigue clothing worn by the American Air Force officers in Nevada appear to be authentic “Tiger Stripes” like I wore in Vietnam. We bartered them from the ROK (Republic of South Korea) troops. Usual US Army issue jungle gear stood out like a sore thumb in the bush. The tigers were nearly invisible (see photo taken by me on a LLRP in 1969). Keep your eye out for the resourceful Kenyan agent played by Somalian actor Barkhad Abdi last seen in “Captain Phillips” (2013).
I give it 5 (yes FIVE) of 5 deaths from above. A MUST SEE