Eye In The Sky. Somebody’s Watching You….

Eye in the Sky Movie (1)

The Sloth loves Helen Mirren. Partly because at 60+ she can randomly dye her hair pink and look good, not mad. Partly because she’s never had ‘work done’.  But mostly because there are few other actors who can play ‘ballsy’ with anywhere near as much panache, exemplified by her career defining role as Prime Suspect’s D.S. Jane Tennison. So the prospect of Helen as high ranking British Army Colonel Katherine Powell in Eye In The Sky boded extremely well.

 

Colonel Powell is in pursuit of a suspected terrorist cell in a Kenyan village. Having monitored and tracked her suspects for some time, she is desperate to eliminate them before they can carry out an imminent suicide bombing. But despite wearing full combat fatigues, hers is no old-skool, guns ‘n’ ammo military operation, rather it is a war of stealth and technology, waged from thousands of miles away.

 

Having enlisted the help of a high ranking pal in the US Army, Colonel Powell has a US drone, piloted by Steve Watts (Aaron Paul), hovering over her suspects, missiles primed for launch. On the ground she has local intelligence agent Jama Farah (Barkhad Abdi) stationed nearby. Having obtained clearance from the British Government, she has the go ahead. But just as Steve is about to push the button, a young local girl appears on the street outside the cell and sets up a bread stall, which puts an enormous spanner in the works. Do they now knowingly kill one child to prevent the terrorists potentially killing multiple children?

 

Eye In The Sky is that simple. One pertinent moral question that asks ‘what would you do?’. Set in real time, it shows the weakness of government ministers who dither and refer upwards to their superiors, the sobering reality of taking a life hitting home to the drone pilot, who till now has been cocooned in a pod. It’s also a frankly disturbing insight into how sophisticated military technology has got (word of warning – that annoying buzzing bluebottle in the corner might not be what is seems…). With excellent performances throughout, including Alan Rickman’s last role before his untimely death, it’s that a rare cinematic beast – one that asks us to engage our intelligence. How refreshing.

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A Long Way Down. Near Death Experiences.

long_way_down_xlgIs it just us or is Piers Brosnan ageing approximately 57x slower than the average human? The Sloth was in short trousers when Remmington Steele first graced the gogglebox. Since then we’ve seen the invention of the world wide web, twerking and the Czech Republic, whilst Mr Brosnan has gained but the faintest smattering of grey around the temples.

In A Long Way Down Piers plays Martin Sharp, a depressed ex-daytime TV presenter with his career, marriage and reputation in tatters after an affair with an underage girl. Intent on ending it all on New Year’s Eve, Martin lights a final, contemplative cigar on the roof of a London skyscraper but is timidly interrupted by mousy Maureen (Toni Collette), who politely inquires if he intends to be long as she wants to go next.

However Maureen and Martin are only part of a queue, quickly joined on the precipice by fellow intended suicides, loudmouth Jess (Imogen Poots) and secretive J.J. (Aaron Paul). Soon giving up all hope of consummating the act, the four reluctantly make their way back down, but vow to return in six weeks time and throw themselves off together. 

In the following weeks they, and we, get to know each of the characters and the events that brought them to the roof that night. Bickering and arguing their way into an unlikely bond, the four find solace in each other. But will their newfound friendship be enough to save them?

On paper, a film about a suicide pact suggests either tastelessness, or a Chris Morris style satire. A Long Way Down is neither. Based on the Nick Hornby novel it mixes black humour with moments of outright farce, all underscored with feel-good sentimentality. It may not tackle the darker elements of suicide head on, but it treats the subject with sensitivity, particularly in Toni Collette’s touching portrait of Maureen. Subject matter aside, the main draw for The Sloth was a marvellously cast Piers’ slick, oily turn as the flashy, self-obsessed Martin. Long may his Teflon-like resistance to ageing continue.

UK release 21 March. Not the comedy you were looking for? Try The Grand Budapest Hotel instead.

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