Eye in the Sky
Alas, Alan Rickman’s final film, but he chose a good one to go out on.
What makes this film work is the care it takes to both set up its principal plot and then, inexorably, follow through on it all the way to the end without shirking from it. What it sets up is this: You have absolute proof by on-site surveillance that a group of suicide bombers are preparing a set of attacks, but if you do a drone strike on the house, you risk collateral damage, including killing a young girl selling bread in the street outside. So do you prioritise saving the girt but risk the attacks taking place, so trading many lives for one or the reverse? The film does make its choice and, by the time it gets to that point, the sense of weight to the decision has been expertly conveyed - you might not agree with it, but you are clear as to the reasons for it.
The cast is quite superb from Mirren as the Colonel running the op, to Paul as the drone pilot, to Rickman, who plays Mirren’s superior, dealing with a bunch of politicians who were just fine with the idea of them calling the shots instead of the military, until one of them had to do so. Yet the film doesn’t cross into the trap of arguing that the military should have carte blanche, on the contrary. Rickman’s character is firmly of the view a decision is needed, he is certain of what it is but cannot make it - it has to be from the politicians.
Talking of whom, I don’t think anyone else could have done the role he plays in the way he does here. That slow, measured tone gives exactly the right sense of authority and seniority - he has a set of excellent lines, with the best set towards the end.
And at the end, the film maintains the conflicted, ambivalence it had throughout - what is the right answer. The film isn’t sure, neither is the viewer.