Drone strikes by America have always come under fire for the attendant
collateral damage on civilians. There’s an element of cold disconnect inferred
because unlike hand-to-hand combat, modern day war machinery operates from the
comfort of an office thousands of miles away from the target.
But screenplay writer Guy Hibbert and director Gavin Hood take us
backstage to watch just how heartbreaking it can be for America to take that
The stage is set with sweet little Kenyan girl Alia and her loving
parents going about their daily routine. Intelligence reports shared by Britain
and the US confirm that in the same neighbourhood, highly valued terror leaders
will be gathering for a meeting. Colonel Katherine Powell from England has been
tailing Abdullah Al-Hady and his wife, British girl Susan who’s been radicalised
as Ayesha, for the last six years.
It’s a joint op by America and Britain with the Rules of Engagement
clear that it will be a capture. But when visuals of suicide bombers getting
ready for a mission are flashed back from the terror
meeting, Colonel Powell wants hellfire at any cost.
Gavin Hood maintains the tension at all times. An agent going in close
enough to direct a beetle into the terror meeting keeps you on the edge.
With Powell in England overseeing the operation and pilots from Nevada
Air Base ready to strike, will the prim British give a thumbs up to it? Or let
the terrorists slip away? Tension again.
Will little Alia selling her mother’s bread just near the target be
saved in time? Will pilots Steve and Carrie on their first real mission hit the
It has to be a legal call, a political call and a military call and
that’s not instant. The buck is passed from one level to a higher-up in England
and in the US. A foreign secretary who has binged on prawns is on the commode
and he has to take a call, different from nature’s call of course. The
Secretary of State is in China and he has to be consulted.
Helen Mirren is uniform starched as Col Powell who is eager to take down
the terror organization, never mind if the collateral percentage must be fudged
a little to get a go-ahead from those who make the decisions. Late Alan Rickman as Lt General Frank Benson
who’s in the board room with the Brits to coordinate the operation with Col
Powell does all his emoting splendidly from a chair.
It is a bit of an emotional overdose when a male and a female pilot are
cast as soft, tearful Americans who’d rather save a little girl than bomb a
houseful of suicide bombers and terrorists. But the message is conveyed when
Alan Rick finally says, ‘Never tell a solider he does not know the cost of
For a film that compellingly deals with the emotions and backroom
manoeuvres of drone attacks, Eye In The
Sky gets a 3.5* rating.
Bharathi S Pradhan
Senior Journalist & Author