Blu-ray Review Drama

'Eye in the Sky' Blu-ray Review: A thought-provoking story about the human cost of war

June 28, 2016Ben MK

With America's ongoing presence in armed conflicts around the globe, it seems like the debate surrounding drone warfare won't be going away anytime soon. Now, in the wake of writer/director Andrew Niccol's compelling 2014 film Good Kill, comes another movie that deals with the morality of murder from 20,000 feet up in the air — this time, with a focus on the collateral damage inflicted on the ground.

In Eye in the Sky, director Gavin Hood and writer Guy Hibbert bring to the screen a story rooted in the West's real-life fight against Al-Shabaab extremists in the Horn of Africa, starring Helen Mirren as Katherine Powell, a British Colonel in charge of a joint military operation called Operation Egret. Working with her counterparts in the U.S. and Kenya, Powell's goal is the capture of some of East Africa's most-wanted terrorists, including two British nationals and one American. The mission takes an unexpected turn, however, going from "capture" to "kill," when suicide vests and explosives are spotted inside the house where the suspects are being surveilled.

Making matters significantly more complicated is the issue of collateral damage; specifically, the life of a young girl who just happens to be selling bread just ouside the compound occupied by the terrorists. Should Powell instruct U.S. drone pilot Steve Watts (Aaron Paul) to fire a Hellfire missile through the roof of the compound, the girl will almost certainly by killed or maimed. But while Lieutenant General Frank Benson (Alan Rickman) debates both the legality and the morality of the situation with a room of British politicians (Richard McCabe, Jeremy Northam and Monica Dolan), time continues to run out. And if they don't act soon, even more innocent lives may be at stake.

Make no mistake; with the majority of its scenes taking place within underground bunkers or behind the closed doors of lavishly decorated conference rooms, Eye in the Sky isn't your usual war movie. However, what it lacks in visceral, battlefield action it more than makes up for with nail-biting tension. A film about the politics of war, Eye in the Sky does a thorough job conveying the ridiculous levels of bureaucratic red tape involved in authorizing a drone strike. However, when it comes to the violent and bloody aftermath of such an attack, the film doesn't shy away either, making for one of the most realistic and thought-provoking war-themed films in recent memory.

Eye in the Sky arrives on Blu-ray with a terrific-looking 1080p transfer, and though you might not think that a movie such as this can prove visually interesting, the filmmakers do a good job mixing things up. From the different color schemes — cool (read: calculating) tones vs. warm (read: thoughtful) hues — used to differentiate the various characters' approach to the situation-at-hand, to the (presumably) CG shots of a Reaper drone in action, picture quality here is top-notch, with an appreciable amount of detail visible in faces, clothing and environments. As for the disc's sound quality, the included DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track does an excellent job relaying the sonic elements of the storytelling, whether it be the crystal-clear dialogue heard in conversational scenes, or the sound of street vendors selling their wares, interrupted by rounds of automatic gunfire.

Universal's two-disc Blu-ray release includes an iTunes/UltraViolet digital copy, a DVD and the following Blu-ray extras:

  • Perspectives (1:22) - A brief promotional piece, focusing on the conflicting perspectives among the film's characters.
  • Morals (1:31) - Another brief promo piece, this time focusing on the moral implications surrounding drone warfare.

Eye in the Sky is available from Universal Pictures Home Entertainment as of June 28th, 2016. The Blu-ray features an English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track, and it is presented with English SDH and Spanish subtitles. The total runtime is 1 Hr. 42 Mins.

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