A single death is a tragedy; a million deaths is a statistic. Joseph Stalin
Michele and I saw Eye in the Sky the other night and we both were a little rattled by the realism of it. It is the kind of movie that seems very true even though it pushes the boundaries of what is possible right now. Eye in the Sky takes place in a small city in Kenya, two places in England, Las Vegas, Hawaii, an arms-trade conference in Singapore, a ping-pong match in Beijing and they are all connected; in real-time . It is the war of the future, now, and it is about how each of the players, up and down the Chain of Command, sees the world through their own lens. It is about how seemingly connected we are, and how isolated.
I have read reviews that refer to this as a study in morals, but it isn’t. The moral question was decided at an earlier time at a level higher than any of the players in this movie. As an aside, in Objective Troy, a Terrorist, a President and the Rise of the Drone, a book about drone warfare that I have not read – but have read a review – the author, Scott Shane, in talking about how the President has reserved the authority to kill when it involves a terrorist’s family, quotes Obama, “It turns out that I am really good at killing people.” End aside.
The movie does not make judgements, but it does make it very clear that the Drone War – for lack of a better name – has consequences. The pilots flying these Predator drones are safe in Nevada and the targets, in this movie, are unsafe in a house in Nairobi, Kenya but, unlike a F-16 carpet bombing a site, these pilots are connected to their targets. The two person crews, a pilot and sensor a operator, know who the targets are, they have been watching from a drone that has been hanging around the target area. Everybody up the Chain of Command knows who the targets are. Counter intuitively, this is warfare at it’s most intimate.
Eye in the Sky, the movie, is terrific. Helen Mirren is the star and the center of the action, a tough – one could even say battle-hardened – Army Colonel, Katherine Powell, who is trying to manage the situation both up and down the chain of command. Above her is Lieutenant General Frank Benson, played by Alan Rickman in his last role. Barkhad Abdi, the bad captain in Captain Phillips, plays a good guy here and Breaking Bad’s Jesse Pinkman – Aaron Paul – is the drone pilot. I recommend Eye in the Sky to anybody who is interested in what is happening right now, all over the world.