On Saturday, Clif and I went to see the movie Eye in the Sky, starring Helen Mirren and the late, great Alan Rickman. What a movie!
Colonel Katherine Powell (Helen Mirren) has been tracking a British terrorist, a woman, for some time and has pinpointed her location to a house in a crowded Nairobi neighborhood. Assisting Colonel Powell are teams in England, America, and Nairobi with an array of technology that is both impressive and disturbing. Initially, the order is to capture the terrorist, but then a tiny drone beetle with seeing eyes reveals two other inhabitants who are preparing to become suicide bombers.
The mission abruptly changes from capture to kill, using a larger drone to drop the explosives. A discussion ensues, but there is general agreement on the course of action until a bright and engaging nine-year-old girl starts selling bread not far from the house targeted for destruction. (Various eyes in the sky capture the scene outside the house.) The girl would most certainly be severely injured if not killed if the house were bombed.
So what should the team do? As they grapple with this moral dilemma, the movie jumps back and forth between the different groups—the Americans, who control the attack drone; various military personnel and high-ranking officials, both American and British, some of whom wish to pass the buck; and the African team in Nairobi. Never have I seen so much dramatic tension wrung from a little girl selling bread and groups of people arguing about her fate.
Colonel Powell and Lieutenant General Frank Benson (Alan Rickman) firmly believe that the drone should strike the target. Unplagued by doubt, they reason that in all likelihood the suicide bombers could kill up to eighty people, and one little girl’s life is a fair trade. Other people aren’t so sure, including the young man controling the attack drone, and his ambivalence is heart wrenching.
This terrific movie kept Clif and me on the edge of our seats. Would the team decide to strike the house? And if so, would the little girl get away before the strike?
Readers, I am not going to reveal the ending. Go see this movie, if it is at a cinema near you, or get it when it comes out on DVD. Eye in the Sky addresses issues that will continue to be of concern to us as our technology becomes more and more advanced. This movie does so in a way that is fair minded yet unflinching.
What would you do if you had to choose between one little girl and eighty people?
I am very glad it is a decision I will never have to make.