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Eye In The Sky – nail-biting action in timely reminder about horrors of war

By on May 3, 2016
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A “timely reminder about the horrific consequences of the decisions of war”, Eye In The Sky is dedicated to its “brilliant” star, the late Alan Rickman, writes Ruth Allen. Plenty of twists in exciting thriller Bastille Day … and UK locations share the spotlight with Kevin Costner in Criminal.

EYE IN THE SKY (15)

(Run time: 102mins; Director: Gavin Hood; Cast: Alan Rickman, Helen Mirren, Aaron Paul, Barkhad Abdi, Jeremy Northam)

Synopsis: London-based military intelligence officer Colonel Katherine Powell is remotely commanding a top secret drone operation to capture a group of dangerous terrorists from their safe-house in Nairobi, Kenya. The mission suddenly escalates from a “capture” to a “kill” operation as Powell realizes the terrorists are about to embark on a deadly suicide mission.

From his base in Nevada, American drone pilot Steve Watts is poised to destroy the safe-house when a nine-year-old girl enters the kill zone just outside the walls of the house. With unforeseen collateral damage now entering the equation, the impossible decision of when to strike gets passed up the “kill chain” of politicians and lawyers as the seconds tick down. www.facebook.com/EyeintheSkyfilm

Director Gavin Hood [Ender’s Game (2013), X-Men Origins -Wolverine (2009), Rendition (2007)] brings distinction to this tense, intelligent contemporary drama – which unfolds almost in real time – about modern warfare and drones.

The unbearable, nail-biting action switches between a Surrey military base, London, Nairobi and Nevada, in this forensic examination of the complex political, legal and moral decision making in modern warfare.

Working with her American counterparts and the Kenyan military, Colonel Katherine Powell (Helen Mirren) supervises a covert operation in Nairobi, Kenya to capture a UK woman who is a member of a Somali terrorist group.

Field Agent Jama Farah (Barkhad Abdi) has tracked the woman, Susan Danford, to a safe house where it becomes clear that the group are planning an attack somewhere else in the city. Powell requests the mission be changed to eliminate the terrorist group with a drone strike. Her liaison in Whitehall, Lieutenant General Frank Benson (a final performance from the wonderful Alan Rickman) insists on this action but is stymied by political and legal wrangling.

When clearance finally comes a young girl starts selling bread outside the safe house and in Nevada drone pilot Steve Watts (Aaron Paul) refuses to launch the strike as the suicide bombers prepare to leave the house.

A superb ensemble cast and an excellent taut screenplay by Guy Hibbert are superbly served by a dramatic, pulsing music score from Paul Hopker and Mark Killian.

Eye in the Sky is a contemporary thriller with a timely reminder about the horrific consequences of the decisions of war. It is dedicated to its brilliant star, the late Alan Rickman, who fittingly has the last line of dialogue in the film.

BASTILLE DAY (15)

(Run time: 90mins; Director: James Watkins; Cast: Idris Elba, Richard Madden, Charlotte Le Bon, Jose Garcia, Kelly Reilly, Thierry Godard)

Synopsis: An American pickpocket living in Paris finds himself hunted by the CIA when he steals a bag that contains more than just a wallet. Sean Briar, the field agent on the case, soon realises Michael is just a pawn in a much bigger game and is also his best asset to uncover a large-scale conspiracy. Going against commands, Briar recruits Michael to use his expert pickpocketing skills to help quickly track down the source of the corruption. As a 24hr thrill ride ensues, as the unlikely duo discover they are both targets and must rely upon each other in order totake down a common enemy. www.facebook.com/BastilleDayFilm/?fref=ts

From director James Watkins [Eden Lake (2008), The Woman in Black (2012), The Descent Pt2 (2009)] comes a blistering action thriller set in the French capital, Paris. Bastille Day is the story of an unlikely pair – a reckless CIA agent Briar (Idris Elba) and a brilliant pickpocket, Michael Mason (Richard Madden), who must work together to uncover and foil a conspiracy.

Michael Mason (Richard Madden of Cinderella (2015) and – of course – Game of Thrones) is an American pickpocket living in Paris who finds himself in the hands of the CIA when he steals a bag that contains more than he bargained for. Sean Briar (Idris Elba of Prometheus (2012) and TV’s Luther), the field agent on the case, soon realises Michael is caught up in a much bigger game and is also his best asset to uncover a large-scale criminal conspiracy.

Going against commands, Briar recruits Michael to use his expert pickpocketing skills to help track down the source of the corruption. As a thrilling 24 hours follows, the unlikely duo discover they are both targets and must rely on each other in order to bring down a common enemy.

This is a well-made and exciting thriller, with a few novel twists and featuring imposing performances from Elba and Madden. Fans of television’s Saturday night policier, Engrenages (Spiral) will be pleased to see Thierry Godard in a significant role.

CRIMINAL (15)

(Run time: 113mins; Director: Ariel Vromen; Cast: Kevin Costner, Gary Oldman, Alice Eve, Gal Gadot, Tommy Lee Jones, Ryan Reynolds)

Synopsis: The film follows a CIA operative, whose memories and skills are implanted into an unpredictable and dangerous death-row inmate in a last-ditch effort to stop an international terrorist plot. www.facebook.com/LionsgateUK

From Ariel Vromen (The Iceman, 2012) this extremely violent, action sci-fi thriller returns Kevin Costner to a major lead role, backed by a formidable acting ensemble that includes Gary Oldman, Alice Eve, Gal Gadot, Tommy Lee Jones and Ryan Reynolds.

The over-long and complex plot revolves round a ground-breaking medical procedure whereby a dead man’s memories are transplanted into the body of a dangerous Death Row inmate – a shadowy dangerous hacker who threatens to launch intercontinental ballistic missiles and start World War 3.

Jericho Stewart (Kevin Costner) is a dangerous ex-con serving a life sentence on Death Row. However, he may unwittingly be the CIA’s only hope of foiling a deadly terrorist plot, one that has already claimed the life of agent Bill Pope (Ryan Reynolds).

Stewart is chosen as the guinea pig for an experimental procedure whereby Pope’s memories, secrets and skills are implanted into his body, allowing the criminal to use the dead man’s knowledge and complete the mission.

Soon the lines between Stewart and Pope become increasingly blurred, especially when the former makes contact with the latter’s widow Jill (Gal Gadot). As chaos ensues, it remains unclear whether Stewart’s mission will succeed.

Dramatic use is made of the film’s UK locations and it features an all-star supporting cast though the appearance of Ryan Reynolds is all too brief. Unfortunately all the elements thrown into the script are unconvincing and the redemption journey of Costner’s Jericho seems over-long and awkward.

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criminal

 

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