Star – Helen Mirren
Genre – Action > War
Run Time – 102 minutes
Certificate – 18
Country – USA/UK
Awards – 35Wins & 107 Nominations
Amazon – £5.00 DVD £7.99 Blue Ray
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So the same Tony Blair that fed us a ton of government bullshit and lies to drives us into an insane war with Iraq is this week telling us that we were ‘misinformed’ by the state before the referendum and so the Brexit vote doesn’t count. I wish we could say the Iraq War doesn’t count. What an absolute arrogant conceited dick he is. It was the War in Iraq that eventually displaced millions of Muslims that sort sanctuary in Europe and helped to force Cameron to have the referendum in the first place! Blair’s crazy decision to allow every Eastern Europe into the British job market to drive down working people’s wages that don’t even cover the rent and utilities doesn’t help his argument either. But to this day just two British citizens have been charged over Iraq, the guy who sold the fake bomb detectors the most notable. He got ten years and Blair got 58 million bucks for his services to big oil, the arms industry and his greedy personal talk circuit work. A War Crimes trail seems along way away.
Not only did Bush and Blair unleash the War on Terror on the world but they also set up the deadly Reaper drone program, a toy for rich western militaries to hit targets pretty much anywhere in the world, so far 99% of them brown people and mostly Muslim. But they are not just killing terrorists but people, who might be terrorists, or could be terrorists in the future, or just so happen to be in the same space as the terrorist or half-a-mile away from terrorists. Wikileaks revealed that 90% of the people killed or injured by drones in Afghanistan were ‘not the intended targets’. Because no one is policing these drone operations, innocuously run from places like Las Vegas, it’s pretty much a turkey shoot out there. Its disturbing stuff, the subject of this taut, thrilling and intelligent drama about the line of command for the British to fire one of these things in the theatre. Incredibly we already have 500 of them in various shapes and sizes, including ten Reapers, the badass ones, which have fired 350 missiles and laser guided bombs since Afghanistan all over the Muslim world, all under the name of ‘a surveillance program’.
• Helen Mirren as Colonel Katherine Powell, a UK military intelligence officer
• Aaron Paul as 2nd Lieutenant Steve Watts, a USAF MQ-9 pilot
• Alan Rickman as Lieutenant General Frank Benson
• Barkhad Abdi as Jama Farah, a Kenyan undercover agent
• Jeremy Northam as Brian Woodale
• Iain Glen as British Foreign Secretary James Willett
• Phoebe Fox as A1C Carrie Gershon, USAF
• Monica Dolan as Angela Northman
• Armaan Haggio as Musa Mo'Allim
• Aisha Takow as Alia
• Richard McCabe as Attorney General George Matherson
• Michael O'Keefe as US Secretary of State Ken Stanitzke
• Carl Beukes as Sergeant Mike Gleeson
• Kim Engelbrecht as Lucy
• Gavin Hood as Lieutenant Colonel Ed Walsh, USAF
• Laila Robins as Jillian Goldman
In Eastleigh, a rundown suburb of Nairobi, Kenya, young girl, Alia Mo'Allim (Aisha Takow), twirls a hula hoop that was just made by her father in their backyard, and not a care in the world. 10,000 meters above her a reaper drone is taking part in an operation to capture or kill a known Islamic extremist in the same neighborhood after a British Kenyan agent is killed for getting too close to the group. British Army Colonel Katherine Powell (Helen Mirren) is in charge of the operation on the British side in Northwood HQ in Kent as a snatch Kenyan army team fuel up on the ground in Nairobi and the American coordinates to capture the Al-Shabaab terrorist group leaders in a safe house. The British are involved as a British couple; Susan Helen Danford (based on the real Samantha Lewthwaite) and her husband Abdul are the targets.
American drones based in Las Vegas armed with missiles in case it gets out of hand hover high above Kenya ready to engage, 2nd Lt Steve Watts (Aaron Paul) piloting the drone. Undercover Kenyan field agents Jama Farah (Barkhad Abdi) and Alia (Aisha Takow) are detailed to confirm the terrorists at the compound on the ground. But the cars and trucks are suddenly on the move and racing deeper into a bustling suburb of shacks and shops, images from the drone and on the ground ‘intel’ broadcast to all involved in the operation showing increasing civilian risk every minute.
Kenyan Special Forces are put on hold as the entourage arrives at a house and enters. Finally the military get facial recognition to identify Susan Helen Danford as one of the human targets as Joint Intelligence Center Pacific at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii OK the drone to arm its hellfire to obliterate the building. The mission is supervised in the United Kingdom by a COBRA meeting that includes Lieutenant General Frank Benson (Alan Rickman) of the Royal Marines, government ministers and the UK Attorney George Matherson (Richard McCabe).
Kenyan agent Farah discovers that the terrorists have explosives in the house and are preparing two suicide bombers for what is presumed to be an attack on a civilian target. Powell decides the imminent threat changes the mission objective from "capture" to "kill". She informs the drone pilot to ready a Hellfire missile attack on the building and solicits the opinion of her British Army legal counsel (Carl Beukes) about doing so.
It’s finally given the go after some legal pontificating with various phone calls. But at the last minute that young girl with the hula hoop pitches up with some pita bread to sell outside of the house. British army technicians at Northwood calculate the explosion spread from the missile has an 80% chance of killing the girl. Government ministers Brian Woodale (Jeremy Northam) and Angela Northman (Monica Dolan) are not happy and Jeremy refers the decision up the government chain. Tense legal arguments begin as the terrorists strap the suicide belts on and the window agonizingly begins to close. The propaganda argument is simple. If the British military blow up a child trying to kill terrorists, that has afar grater negative effect on the west than the girl walking free and the terrorists blowing up 50 African civilians. Powell (Mirren) is ready to fire whereas the drone pilot is torn by the young girl on his screen. Never has the sale or pita bread been so gripping. Never mind innocent lives being lost, careers and pensions are at stake for making the wrong decision here.
Its pretty good stuff folks and of the recent drone action movies released this is probably the best. Good Kill (2014) was solid and very much an American perspective on the US military drone program through the pilots and the cowards they feel killing the 90% whereas this is more about the moral and legal arguments of the U.K.s involvement. Mirren is believable as the abrupt and confident military rank ready to carry out the operation come what may and all the ministers shown as liberal and lily-livered. It’s a breeze for Alan Rickman in his final film as the prim and proper high ranking British officer and very much an ensemble piece in the end. Aaron ‘Breaking Bad’ Paul is the token American ‘star’ involvement and it’s looking increasingly difficult to cast the short ass in meaningful role without thinking he will suddenly say ‘Yo Mr White!’. He could hardly see over the wheel in Need for Speed.
It’s taut and tense stuff throughout as the target is lit up ready for destruction and the various assets on the ground also risk being blown up or caught by the Islamist’s. As I say, never has the sale of bread been so tense. It’s shot in real time and that adds an extra layer of tension. This stuff is going on for real every week and well paid white people are deciding which poor brown people should die that pose a threat down the line to white wealth and dominance on the planet, ‘British interests abroad’, as Blair calls the oil and gas industry. This is not, and never was, about terrorism. This is the ongoing Great Game, the control of the worlds energy supplies to keep the west empowered. The film never really goes into the politics of why we are there though and plays the terrorism card throughout. A more intelligent film on the subject may have earned a fifth ciao star and maybe big awards.
It’s not an acting movie and more in the drama /thriller genre as the various assets are deployed and the tension rises to the dramatic and harrowing conclusion. In real life it appears they just fire the missiles and sod the legal and the spin doctors and lawyers do the rest as it’s all the innocent kills are buried like the bodies. The Americans actually target weddings and funerals of jihadists simply on the basis that fellow friends and family will be there and so take out the next generation of the anti west crowd, and that produces another target rich funeral, of course. This is western terrorism, end of, and however much moves try to sanitize it we are at war with Islam and just as bad. But for just $13 m it looks good and entertains and did a healthy $34.5m back.
Imdb.com – 7.3/10.0 (52,992votes)
Rottentomatos.com – % critic’s approval
Metacritic.com – % critic’s approval
A look at the political, legal and military chain of command in firing a hellfire missile abroad.
-Featurette: perspectives –
More of the same. We learn that Alan Rikman remained on set well after his filming was complete, perhaps aware it would be his last film.
-Cast & Crew interviews-
Mirren and co talk about their movie.
South China Morning Post –‘This tale is intriguingly structured and expertly executed, and wholeheartedly embraces the moral complexities of one of the most divisive issues of modern military combat’.
Financial Times –‘Director Gavin Hood works the tension and the moral uncertainty to good effect but at times the film feels schematic and too much like revision’.
The Mail –‘It's a lean, Lumet-like thriller that puts the moral calculus of drone warfare in its crosshairs’.
Little Whit Lies –‘A basic conundrum; yet it's smart, tense, and surprisingly pointed’.
Independent –‘What's refreshing, though, is how nuanced the film's approach remains. There is no simple minded resolution here and it is inevitable that there will be blood on somebody's hands by the final reel’
Metro –‘Hood shows us the war on terror as a literal world war, being strategized everywhere from the dust to the heavens’.
The Sun –‘Taut and chastening, Eye in The Sky leaves you saddened and shaken’.
We do pretty well for cinemas in Brighton, considering it's only a lickle city. We have 2 mainstream cinemas and the Duke of York's Picturehouse which tends to do more independent/arthouse screenings.
I'm just going to quickly mention the Odeon and UGC as they're big chains, you should know what you're getting, before giving lots more space to the good old Duke of Yorks.
The Odeon is in the centre of town, on the seafront corner of West Street (where the chavs go to drink, fight and be sick on a Saturday night) and does what an Odeon does over several screens. The UGC is in the Marina complex a mile or so east of Brighton city centre. It sometimes has a better choice of films but you have to drive/bus it from town, and my personal bugbear is the evil multistorey carpark. I might not be the best parker but surely those spaces are too small, and in the past we've actually missed films because it's been so full and crowded we've not been able to find a space in time (e.g. on a Thursday night - prime cinema-going time!)
So on to the Duke of Yorks: It's located next to the fire station at Preston Circus; it's a member of the small City Screen chain, so not fully independent, but it certainly feels it! It focuses on more independent movies, and usually has a really interesting programme. It manages to get a good balance, ranging from the odd blockbuster, breakout/cross over hit (e.g. Slumdog), quality oscar-bait (e.g. The Wrestler) to the more obscure/challengin pic (e.g. The Class, Wendy and Lucy this month), with a good smattering of international and foreign language pics. There are seasonal trends, e.g. at the beginning of the year you can usually get most of the oscar-nommed films here, so the output is more stuff I've heard of!
There are generally 2 screenings during the week plus a late showing on Friday (often horror-based/cult classics/crowd-pleasers e.g. Twilight, Raging Bull) plus occasional specials e.g. linking up with live opera, a Lord of the Rings trilogy all-nighter, the odd gig (saw a fantastic performance by Aqualung a couple of years ago). There are mums and tots screenings ('The Big Scream') and a kids club at weekends too.
The cinema has been recently refurbished in the balcony with super-luxury comfort, including a couple of sofas up there now! There is a nice little bar upstairs, with a balcony - perfect for drinks when the weather's good. You can get good snacks at the kiosk (not just your Odeon giant popcorn and bags of sweets!) - and it's all in a great, friendly atmosphere.
The Duke of Yorks also has a good membership scheme. We have joint membership currently costing £52 p.a. for which you get 6 free tickets, money off ticket purchases, the odd free screening and a few other fringe benefits - well worth it to support the best cinema in town!
I bought a yearly pass for the UGC Cinema. My local UCI is at Brighton Marina which is an ideal location as I love it at the marina - especially in the summer. Anyway you can now buy a yearly pass for £9.99 a month! The drawback is that you have to buy it for a year, they don't do a monthly pass but they let you pay monthly so it is not a huge capital outlay at the beginning - which is good if you are a student like myself. You can see as many movies as you want and therefore get to make your own opinions about which films are good. I've seen almost every film out since I purchased the pass. It is great value for money. Last week when it poured with rain all day my friends and I went and watched three films in a row (marathon cinema viewing) and you don't feel like you've spent anything coz you've got your moneys worth if you just watch two films a month! I really recommend it if you like watching movies! Happy cinema-ing!