Most films that aim to be as topical as Eye in the Sky tend to be boring slogs, more concerned with hitting each hot-button issue or pulling the right strings than with telling a compelling story. Eye in the Sky, however, manages to do both. It’s a white-knuckle suspenseful tale of a mission to apprehend potential terrorists in Kenya while also managing to bring depth and subtlety to the debate about drone-based warfare. In many ways the film is a cinematic version of the Trolley Problem, the famous thought experiment that is a favorite in Intro to Psychology classes and occasionally makes appearances onscreen, and where another film about the drone war might come down definitively on one or the other side of the debate, director Gavin Hood has instead crafted a story complex enough to not offer any simple answers yet simple enough to foster a healthy debate. And while Eye in the Sky does an excellent job of showing just how muddy the waters are when it comes to drone strikes, in the end the audience is likely to see in the film a reflection of their own beliefs, whatever they may be, but regardless of your feelings you should come out of the film with something more to think about.
It’s rare that an actor who was almost exclusively relegated to supporting roles can have a huge impact on audiences and create so many memorable performances and characters, but Alan Rickman was just such an exception. Rickman, who passed away today at age 69, is rightfully being remembered for his famous roles as villains in movies like Die Hard, Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves, and the Harry Potter series (yes, Snape was a hero in the end, but for seven and a half films Rickman was playing the role of a villain), but his work was much more varied than headlines would suggest. He showed remarkable range, with a brilliant ear for comedy, a uniquely gorgeous voice, a charm and sophistication seldom seen these days, and the ability to rip your heart out of your chest and leave you emotionally destroyed. His roles always seemed to be the ones that stuck with you long after the rest of the film had faded from memory, and he could easily outshine those billed above him no matter the part. Every performance found layers to the characters that went beyond the script: his heroes were complex, his villains lovable. And while his career in the theatre is as worthy of celebration as any aspect of his career, his legacy lies in his varied roles on film, through which he connected to millions on a very personal level.