FF93 - Eye in the Sky

Into by Ben Harrison

Remember when the hottest political potato was adjudicating the morality of drone warfare? I mean, it is almost quaint to think about now, but drone warfare was a major controversy until the public decided we had bigger fish to fry. Armed drones were first used in late 2001 and deployed from bases in Pakistan and Uzbekistan to assassinate terrorist leaders inside Afghanistan before our nation turned its lonely eyes in the sky to Iraq. By 2009 the CIA claimed to have killed more than half of their most wanted Al-Qaeda suspects using UAVs, in 2013, in the first public death toll provided by the U.S. government for UAVS, walking corporate lobbying opportunity and a senator suit, Lindsey Graham claimed there had been 4700 casualties at the hands of UAVs. It is an astounding number and that was six years ago! The government isn’t inclined to update us, so who knows the number at this point.

We are told that the use of drones saves lives, and by removing American soldiers from the battlefield it is hard to argue that it doesn’t at least save the lives of frontline American soldiers, but while we can keep soldiers out of physical harm’s way, we cannot remove them from the battle or from making battlefield decisions. Eye In The Sky is about a decision to shoot a missile at a house where terrorists are preparing to kill scores of people with a suicide bomb. Should the military decide to shoot the missile, a little girl selling bread outside would be killed.

It is a story told from three perspectives: The intelligence apparatus embodied by Helen Mirren’s character, a colonel in the UK military with Alan Rickman playing her lieutenant general. The eyes in the sky themselves, played by MQ 9 pilot Aaron Paul and his A1C (She is the one aiming the camera and lasing the targets), and the targets they see on the ground in Kenya, living alongside our embedded agent allies and scores of civilians.

In this film we know a drone is not just an unthinking, unblinking, killing machine. You don’t just point it to a spot on the map and let it loose. There is an operator at the controls taking orders from someone, possibly very far away, who is probably taking orders from yet a third person. It is a global operation that has decidedly local consequences and while it feels in its description like it is simply a trolley problem discussion from an intro to philosophy class, the film is much more than that. Between its terrific performances and central question the feeling of uncertainty that pervades the film isn’t played only for attention, it is instructive. On today’s Friendly Fire revolutions are fuelled by postings on YouTube as we discuss 2016 Gavin Hood-directed Eye In The Sky.

Unless otherwise stated, the content of this page is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 License