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NIGERIA PHILOSOPHICAL ASSOCIATION
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EYE IN THE SKY..A PHILOSOPHICAL MOVIE
The peculiarly disengaged nature of modern warfare has been explored in several recent dramas, from Rick Rosenthal’s 2013 thriller Drones to Andrew Niccol’s more celebrated 2014 drama Good Kill. Here, the South African director Gavin Hood assembles an A-list ensemble cast (including Alan Rickman in his last on-screen role) for a provocatively tense thriller that negotiates the moral minefields of its thorny subject matter in crowd-pleasing fashion.
The premise finds geographically disparate players, linked by phones and video screens, arguing the pros and cons of an ongoing drone operation that is unfolding in what feels like real time. While the set-up may be melodramatically contrived, weighing the cost of collateral damage – in this case, an innocent girl’s life against the prospect of multiple terrorist deaths – the result is still impressively ambivalent for a movie that aims to make an impact in the multiplex market.
e open in Nairobi, where Aisha Takow’s young Alia twirls a hula hoop in her backyard. Throughout the drama, which plays out on closely observed monitor screens, we shall return to such aerial views of Alia, caught on airborne surveillance cameras, the words “not for targeting” significantly nestled in the bottom left of the frame. From Nairobi we flit in quick succession to London, Nevada, Pearl Harbor and beyond, as the key players in a joint anti-terror operation assemble. Foremost among them is Helen Mirren’s Katherine Powell, the no-nonsense British colonel on the trail of al-Shabaab terrorists, most notably a radicalised UK citizen. Her mission is to “capture, not kill” the high-priority targets gathering near the yard where Alia plays. But when the spectre of an imminent suicide attack rears its head, her priorities become more lethal, as does the prospect of civilian casualties.
What follows is a nail-biting exercise in collective buck passing as the combatants, lawyers and politicians involved in the “kill chain” (the script’s original title) argue the personal, political and legal merits of launching a Hellfire missile attack in “a friendly country that is not at war”. In London, Rickman’s Lt General Frank Benson gradually loses patience with the propaganda-savvy bureaucrats who seem more concerned with saving face than saving lives. In Nevada, Aaron Paul’s drone pilot Steve Watts faces the moral dilemma of pulling the trigger from the safety of an airbase thousands of miles from the combat zone. Meanwhile, in Nairobi, Barkhad Abdi’s Jama Farah faces the enemy on the ground, piloting futuristic spyware (robotic hummingbirds and flying bug cameras) from dangerously close quarters.
READ MORE: https://www.theguardian.com/film/2016/apr/17/eye-in-the-sky-review-helen-mirren
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