Wednesday, 20 April 2016

REVIEW - EYE IN THE SKY (GAVIN HOOD)


Pro-military propaganda comes clothed in an anti-authoritarian cloak; upholding Western values whilst condemning Western attitudes; shooting from safety, killing with impunity, dying in anonymity. Eye in the Sky is a thoughtful thriller about thought processes and their actions, and how the illusion of distance can influence those thoughts and actions both, and how that illusion may itself be real. For all that, it offers little further food for thought, framing an international political scandal as a mere bad day at work, though Guy Hibbert's screenplay places the film's heart in a more immediately potent position, even as its head swarms elsewhere, all around the world. Above all else, in the buck-passing political complexities that fuel its streamlined plot, in editor Megan Gill's marvellous manipulation of time and place to incessantly ratchet the tension ever upward, Eye in the Sky functions most fundamentally, and most powerfully, as a thriller. It's direct in its intentions and in its effect, and this directness, this overt reliance on form and structure, excuses its contrivances to a degree, not least when they contribute to the escalating tension by emphasising the human cost of these military machinations. Hibbert glorifies the good workers, but understands the bad ones, and also understands the difficulties they face in working together; in truth, it's not particularly pro-military, nor particularly anti-authoritarian, but its ethos rather evokes such sentiments. Director Gavin Hood handles the material solidly, if perhaps too solidly - the film actually succeeds in spite of his influence, as his heavy-handed touch is present as ever. But fine craftsmanship and both a generous helping and a good balance of thrills and thoughfulness allow Eye in the Sky to overcome Hood's faults.