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Eye in the Sky (2015)
Welcome to the new front line

A UK-based military officer in command of a top secret drone operation to capture terrorists in Kenya discovers the targets are planning a suicide bombing and the mission escalates from “capture” to “kill.” As American pilot Steve Watts is about to engage, a nine-year old girl enters the kill zone, triggering an international dispute reaching the highest levels of US and British government over the moral, political, and personal implications of modern warfare.

Eye in the Sky (2015)

Three Distances

My notion of noir is the communication in a film story that the audience is the writer of the world, a world designed to satisfy our urges. Innocent victims are manipulated through coincidence and love. Since Welles, we’ve seen a great many variations and deep penetration in our film vocabulary. It is rare, for instance to not end a romantic comedy without a public, happy resolution of the love story in front of an audience, often involving an on screen camera.

Here we have what is now a mature version: the cameras are on screen cameras and the audience/writers are one community of characters while the manipulated innocents are another. I believe this was initiated by ‘The Conversation,’ and refined in a spate of NSA-centric summer action things.

Here we have the typical formulation with the twist that we argue amounts ourselves about what to do. There are three layers.

The ‘bottom‘ are the Africans. Within this group are indigenous and imported provocateurs who work to establish a story by force. At the ‘top‘ is us in our role of manipulator, both as film audience with defined tastes and urges and as enabling citizenry of the machines in the stories.

In the middle is a very clever concoction of traditional noir vision and manipulation with debate about what to do. Our on screen folks (including the powerful Rickman) unfold a metastory about what has value in on screen action. This really is very well constructed, placing the centre of tension not in the situation ‘on the ground‘ (which indeed is tense) but in our own souls about what we countenance.

My unhappiness is the familiar one: I never feel so much a misogynist, jingoist, racist or hedonist as in films designed to creatively amplify those experiences behind the cover of critical distance. In this case, they pull the power of the moral ambiguity from my own mind where it should be eating me into the safe playground of film fiction. Seeing the familiar Rickman and here very actressy Mirren works against me, even me who has been close to people like those here. We are given the protection that fiction allows.

That said, I can recommend this straight up as an engaging film as well as near mastery of construction.

Posted in 2016

Ted’s Evaluation — 3 of 3: Worth watching.


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