Eye in the Sky – movie notes

[It’s OK to read this – no spoilers.]

We just got home from watching “Eye in the Sky”. It was excellent and you should go see it. Be prepared – you will probably leave in dead silence and talk about it all the way home.

We went mainly to see Alan Rickman. He was very good as Liuetenant General Frank Benson, which was great. He went out on a strong performance.

The movie works on so many levels. The main characters – Rickman, Helen Mirren, Aaron Paul, Barkhad Abdi – are all three dimensional, especially Paul. The politicians, lawyers and other advisors around them are well done, if not completely fleshed out. They represent their points of view well, which is what I think really matters in this movie.

I love talking about movies and I always start with “what was the writer trying to say?” (This often makes people not want to go to the movies with me, but so it goes. For example, I remember coming away from “Joe Versus the Volcano” talking about how much meaning it had and how quickly every conversation came to a quick dead end.)

In “Eye in the Sky”, I think the writer had a lot to say. I’m not going to go into all of it (there’s too much there!), but I did want to comment on one thing: the dilemma faced by  Sergeant Mushtaq Saddiq (Babou Ceesay).

Saddiq is the one who is told by Helen Mirren’s character that (essentially) “I want to launch the attack. I need to have the Collateral Damage Estimate come in between 45 and 50%. Do what you need to do to make that happen?”

I can imagine that this conversation has happened a million times in a million different circumstances. “It’s your job to make it work.” “Adjust the numbers so it comes out looking right.” “Do it just this once.”

It smacks of the kinds of moral compromises we are sometimes asked to make just to get by. The pilot of the drone (Steve Watts played by Aaron Paul), faces a more obvious moral crisis, but I really like the subtlety of Saddiq’s situation.

I think the writer, Guy Hibbert, did a great thing by showing a smaller, less obvious dilemma. Not many of us will have to decide whether or not to fire a Hellfile missle into a semi-populated area. But we might be called on to make “just a few small adjustments” here and there on a report.

 

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