Eye of the storm
As drone missions become ever more popular, Eye in the Sky expertly explores the moral, political and tactical decisions that go into pulling the trigger.It’s a political quagmire and a moral quandary, but it’s a tactical no-brainer, which should arguably make the former two decisions if not easy, then certainly easier. Boots on the ground cause no end of trouble; getting them there is hard enough; firefights are tactically deadly; and troops killed overseas are a huge political mess. so planting a laser-guided smart bomb in the middle of a cabal of high value targets seems the cleanest, most efficient, and most effective solution. Sure, there’s a risk of collateral damage, but there’s a greater risk of collateral damage going in on foot, and a huge problem if the HVTs are left to escape, with the ripple effect causing damage 100-fold, maybe even 1,000-fold. But there’s also an argument that one life lost is one too many.With Helen Mirren’s colonel guiding the mission, a simple drone ‘watch’ in Kenya quickly becomes unnecessarily complicated, as politicians shirk decision-making in favour of passing the buck upwards. Even the late Alan Rickman (in an excellent final role) struggles to deal with the political (and legal) cowardice, whilst Aaron Paul’s drone pilot allows his own conscience to further muddy the waters, and man-on-the-ground Barkhad Abdi tries his best to keep casualties to a minimum, even putting his own life on the line. Director Gavin Hood’s Eye in the Sky follows a similar path to the Ethan Hawke thriller Good Kill, but instead of following the sustained ongoing damage done to the pilot of dozens of missions, it takes a gripping look at the significant effect of just one mission.
Picture QualityUnfortunately Eye in the Sky sometimes looks and feels DTV both in terms of presentation and style
Nevertheless, the 1080p/AVC-encoded High Definition video presentation, framed in the movie’s original theatrical aspect ratio of 2.40:1 widescreen, and hitting UK shores on a Region B-locked Blu-ray courtesy of Entertainment One, does a solid job with the material. Picking up on the nuances of the three key locales used in the feature – the lavish mahogany home for the politicians, the minimalist military camp of the war room, and the blistering heat of the Kenyan target – the film looks its best out in the open in the last of those three, whilst a hint of softness impinges on both of the other locations.
The closest we get to some kind of directorial flair comes in the form of some Abrams-style lens flair in the war room, although the tension of the material itself arguably makes up for some of the limitations in terms of flair. Black levels are strong enough, and there are a few nice colour tones, again mostly in the last of the three locations, and there are only a few hints of digital problems scattered across the piece – from crush to the aforementioned softness – to otherwise bring down a mostly solid, though far from exceptional, video presentation.
Sound QualityThe accompanying soundtrack is more definitively impressive compared to the picture
Eye in the Sky comes presented with a standout DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track which is frequently exceptional, promoting not just punch - which is arguably quite sporadic - but precision, that delivers payloads across the array, from left to right, back to front. Dialogue remains firmly prioritised across the frontal array, keenly disseminated across the fronts and centre channel with clarity and coherence, whilst the score allows decent background material to filter through and give the track a pervasive edge. Of course it's the effects which stand out, not just in terms of the bigger impacts, but also the buzzing of surveillance equipment, chatter of busy locales, or the scream of planes - and indeed drones - taking off, the last of which screeches across the stage with superb directionality.
ExtrasA scattering of extremely short extras offers little more than promo fluff - with the Morales and Perspectives 'Featurettes' lasting little over a minute each. The Cast and Crew Interviews - exclusive to the UK release - are far more interesting and comprehensive, whilst a Photo Gallery and some Preview Trailers round out the disc.
VerdictTaut and expertly crafted, Eye in the Sky looks at the ramifications of a single drone strike
Eye in the Sky delivers good video and excellent audio, as well as a smattering of extra features, leaving this a solid release to pick up, and well worth checking out.
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