At its heart, Eye in the Sky is about a situation rife with ethical challenges, and the adjectives one attaches to it, defines which side one might take.
Put Simply, this the situation in Eye in the Sky: A joint task force, consisting of Americans and Brits, are trying to blow up a house filled with high value bad guys. The only problem is, a little girl’s hawking her bread within the bomb’s range of efficacy.
Some may say that dropping the bomb is a horrible intrusion on the sovereignty of an African nation by Western Powers. Others may think it’s a necessary evil that turns into a beaurocratic nightmare. Personally, I think it’s a soft depiction of war and the consequences there in. But I’ll have to explain the situation more in depth before I reinforce that point.
Several parties are involved in the decision of whether or not to drop the bomb and risk blowing up the kid. From the top of the chain of command down is as follows. A British General, unaccustomed to civilian life, played by Rickman. He acts as a liaison between politicians and a veracious Kernel played by Mirren. She’s more concerned with results than ethics and relays her commands to two American Predator drone pilots played by Aaron Paul and some other woman I’m too lazy to look up. The american pilots both seem remarkably ignorant of the consequences that come with piloting a flying death machine; in other words they expected a pay check, not a moral dilemma.
Below them, is a Kenyan Sargent and two of his spies, both equipped with the latest gadgets in espionage. The tension in the film comes from one of the agents on the ground played by Barkhad Abdi. He’s given every shit job, and is expected to pilot a beetle like drone into the compound, all the while surrounded by baddies.
The majority of the film is a squabble between the upper and lower ends on the chain of command. The Beaurocrats tasked with okaying the bombing pass the buck, over, and over. Even after Mirren receives the go ahead, Paul’s character throws the book at her; he’s unwilling to drop the bomb, if it means killing the child—I found this scene hard to believe, considering this is his job.
Spoilers!—To the surprise of no one, they drop the bomb. And, the unknowing child takes her sweet ass time packing up her bread section in the market. Admittedly, the scene is tense as hell. Then, boom! The house is vaporized. And, the child is left bleeding in the dirt. But nothing about the aftermath is particularly impactful. They employ the technique that western audiences have seen before: A limp, bloodied child carried off to hospital by wailing parents.
By dramatizing the scene, they create an artifice between the audience and the characters. Which is fine, but if they want to challenge western audiences, they should be tearing down the artifice of drama, not building it up. Maybe I’m just numb to violence in cinema, but slow motion scene paired with an ambient dramatic song just doesn’t get me anymore. Rather than dragging out the scene with the girl bleeding on an operating table—something that we’ve all seen before—they should have vaporized the child along with the house…
At this point, you may think me perverted, allocating the grotesque explosion of a child, but, hear me out: The only way to truly challenge a western audience that’s seen everything, is to offer up something they don’t expect. Spontaneity over litany. I’m not talking about the type of Cronenberg violence that was fallaciously employed in 13 Hours as gimmick. I’m talking about an innocent girl disappearing into the dust, shrapnel, and matchsticks, along with everyone else in that house; the supposed “good” and “bad” wiped away in the same stroke, driving home the indifferent reality of the situation, rather than dramatizing it. Then again, what the hell do I know.