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Eye in the Sky (2016)Eye in the Sky (2016)

This thriller by the director Gavin Hood considers the many complexities of drone warfare in the digital age.  The military mission that's presented seems both simple and good — a British Colonel, Katherine Powell (Helen Mirren), orders the capture of a group of Al-Shabaab terrorists in Nairobi.  But then comes mission creep when capture morphs into a secret drone strike to kill.  Is that escalation warranted?  A cascade of questions then follows.  There are ambiguous military rules of engagement.  Murky assessments of collateral damage.  The citizenship of the targets.  Political fallout for what you do and don't do.  The winner of the propaganda game depending on the outcome.  Technological limits and failures.  Most troubling of all, there are deeply ethical questions and the human beings who make the decisions.  At the end of the film, a moralizer says that what happened was disgraceful, to which a general responds, "What happened was horrible, but what might have happened would have been worse.  Don't ever tell a soldier that he doesn't know the costs of war."  And so the film opens with a quotation by the Greek dramatist Aeschylus (525 BC–456 BC): "In war, truth is the first casualty."  Sometimes what's true and good isn't very clear.  When I watched this film it enjoyed a 93% rating on the Tomatometer.

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