Bringing you honest reviews of recent releases
Helen Mirren – Colonel Katherine Powell
Alan Rickman – Lieutenant General Frank Benson
Monica Dolan – Angela Northman
Aaron Paul – 2nd Lieutenant Steve Watts
Barkhad Abdi – Jama Farah
Jeremy Northam – Brian Woodale
Iain Glen – British Foreign Secretary James Willett
I wasn’t looking forward to this movie. I expected a load of dull military bullshit enhanced by lengthy scenes of unrelatable conversation and stern faces walking very slowly down hallways, etc. So as I sat down and the credits opened Eye In the Sky, I folded my arms – and sighed..
..I absolutely loved it.
This movie was everything I didn’t expect; engaging characters, brilliantly tense scenes of action, interesting plot development, unexpected humour. This was a different kind of military movie in which gripping scenes bounced back and forth between lead characters during a dangerous mission. These jumps between action carried the movie along at a fantastic pace, ensuring no scene was the same as the next – or previous. One minute you’re in Northwood Headquarters watching Colonel Powell (Mirren) barking orders at her giant computer monitor, the next you’re faced with a boardroom full of panic-stricken UK government sat round a table with Lieutenant General Benson (Rickman) trying to control an incredibly delicate situation, that Powell has stormed ahead and created. Such a scenario shouldn’t be funny, but it’s played out in such a dynamic way that it allows for humour to seep through.
In a sense, this movie contains an element of farce.
Powell staring wide-eyed at her monitor biting her nails, shouts an order.
Her phone rings, it’s Benson telling her to stop the order.
She shouts an expletive.
Orders her team to stop.
Benson says he’ll get back to her.
She continues her mission – ignoring his rules – and the phone rings again..
It’s very slick and witty, making comedy out of what should be a very serious situation. In fact, the audience erupted in laughter more than a few times due to Mirren and Rickman’s comedic timing and indecisive moments. The whole thing was wound so tightly with tension, that it seemed like a blend of hilarity and nervous laughter. And I was enjoying it as much as 60% of the auditorium. I say 60% because, of course, Eye In the Sky isn’t going to be everyone’s cup of tea. It did have its drawbacks. But more of that later.
Mirren does a fantastic job of playing Colonel Powell. Whether you like this movie or not, you can’t deny the woman’s strong steadfast acting talents. She puts her all into her movies, and she does exactly the same here. She’s a moody-faced blonde bitch you wouldn’t want to cross in the military. Imagine one of the most bolshy, yapping female bosses you’ve ever had at work – and add a bit more – and there you have her. Which is why it’s great to watch the clash of authority between Powell and Benson; two very strong personalities wanting two very different things. Mirren and Rickman spark a deliciously intense chemistry (non-sexual. Obviously.) on screen which is needed in a movie like this. Watching the two British gems argue with each other whilst their agents on the front line – not knowing if they’re coming or going – clutch their controls with sweaty trembling hands adds a great level of tension, at the same time as throwing in moments of comic relief.
Probably the most tense scene of the movie is the moment ‘the little girl’ wanders into her local street to sell bread; this scene actually had me vocalising my frustration in the cinema. Mainly moans of “for fuck sake” (one of my favourite phrases). Just this random little character throws the military’s mission into complete turmoil, with the agent at the helm of blowing up the property she’s sat in front of to sell her bread tipped over the edge (the gritted teeth tension here is fantastic) as personal choice clashes with professional dedication.
Powell is adamant the agent hits ‘FIRE’.
Benson’s members of British government are adamant he does not fire.
And all the while the enemy and target are close to actually leaving the property to embark on a suicide bomb terrorist mission..
This scene was superb, with such a gripping level of tension that I was almost at nail-biting stage. The atmosphere of an innocent little child sat unknowingly between an army – with their guns raised ready to attack – and wanted terrorists was very dramatic.
Blow the house of terrorists up and take the girl with it?
Or abort the mission?
The outcome is interesting, and gives such an effective display of harrowing life-changing decisions that I wondered if life in the military really is like that sometimes..
The girl got on my nerves a bit; chubby little thing sitting there casually looking around and generally chit-chatting with passers-by.
“GET THE FUCK UP AND GO, YOU’RE GONNA GET BLOWN UP!!” was my main reaction during this scene.
And then remembered it was a movie.
Yes. This is how much Eye in The Sky pulled me in. I was fully engaged the entire time, and with Mirren’s occasional sweary outbursts, I was loving every second. Her cry of, “CHRIST ALMIGHTY” to the look of Rickman’s deadpan facial expression got the audience laughing out loud.
Eye in The Sky wasn’t what I expected it to be. It was miles better.
Combining a dynamic and very entertaining lead cast, this movie stands out differently to other military features. Its plot is incredibly simple but effective at the same time; less is more as the confining situation of piloting a terrorist capture from one room becomes the most eventful situation. The set (Powell’s lair) is very minimal, she does’t even move from her control room and yet the screen radiates a constant atmosphere of engaging action.
Eye in The Sky is a slick, original feature and its structure is what makes it so different to many other cinematic hits. It replaces gangs of men shooting their way through villages / deserts with just a few panicked characters staring at a computer monitor.
It replaces moany background storylines about the lead character (s) (I.E. pregnant wife) by taking the focus off them and having it more on the story.
And it switches tragedy for tension, helped by characters who add a dash of humour for comic relief.
This was Rickman’s final movie. But you wouldn’t think it, his performance enthusiasm was just as strong here as it always was. His final, and finest.