The Eye in the Sky, film review: Alan Rickman in his last role

Alan Rickman in Eye in the Sky. Picture: Keith Bernstein

Alan Rickman in Eye in the Sky. Picture: Keith Bernstein - Credit: Archant

One of George W Bush’s many failings was his propensity for starting wars - Iraq/ Afghanistan/ On Terror - that didn’t produce good war films.

The spin off Drone War Movie has similarly failed to assert itself as a successful genre.

It does though already have its clichés, one of which is the cute little innocent child who will skip cheerfully into the mission monitor image of the terrorist location, just as, or just after, some sensitive American servicemen has launched a missile from a position some 20,000 feet in the sky.

Eye in the Sky, takes the cliché and spins a vast, continent-spanning web of black comedy and political satire from it.

It gets its cute kid in early.

Alia (Takow) is a fresh faced cherub in a headscarf, who studies maths conscientiously but secretly, because her family live in a part of Kenyan capital Nairobi under the control of Al Shabab, the Horn of Africa’s dominant Islamic fundamentalist franchise.

Unbeknownst to her, next door some of the region’s most notorious terrorists are gathered and Colonel Helen Mirren has set her face to killing or capturing them that day.

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Intentionally or not, Eye in the Sky can be seen as a send up of the standard handwringing drama about the ethics of modern warfare.

The story straps on all the usual moral dilemmas but then sidetracks into The Thick Of It territory as in various London, Las Vegas and Hawaiian rooms, soldiers and politicians flap, prevaricate, crunch casualty estimates and pass the buck.

The film features Alan Rickman’s last role, cast, slightly improbably, as a General.

He bows out exactly as you’d like him to - being magnificently dismissive and world-weary.

Rating: 4/5 stars.