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Eye in the Sky: Blu-ray + DVD + Digital HD Review

Eye in the Sky (2016) movie poster Eye in the Sky

Theatrical Release: March 11, 2016 / Running Time: 103 Minutes / Rating: R

Director: Gavin Hood / Writer: Guy Hibbert

Cast: Helen Mirren (Colonel Katherine Powell), Aaron Paul (Steve Watts), Alan Rickman (Lieutenant General Frank Benson), Barkhad Abdi (Jama Farah), Jeremy Northam (Brian Woodale), Phoebe Fox (Carrie Gershon), Armaan Haggio (Musa Mo'Allim), Aisha Takow (Alia Mo'Allim), Monica Dolan (Angela Northman), Richard McCabe (George Matherson), Babou Ceesay (Sergeant Mushtaq Saddiq), John Heffernan (Major Harold Webb), Michael O'Keefe (Ken Stanitzke), Laila Robins (Ms. Jillian Goldman), Iain Glen (James Willett)

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The real-time thriller Eye in the Sky gets its drama
from drone warfare, a modern practice that most viewers will know of but not have any personal experience with.

Members of the terrorist group Al-Shabaab are believed to be meeting at a safe house in Nairobi, Kenya, including three of the top five on East Africa's Most Wanted list.

We follow the situation from several points of view. From the UK, Colonel Katherine Powell (Helen Mirren) represents the military, while separately Lieutenant General Frank Benson (Alan Rickman) meets with members of the government. In Las Vegas, a team of United States Air Force pilots led by Steve Watts (Aaron Paul) mans the controls of a drone that would be needed as the mission develops from a capture to a potential kill. On the ground in Nairobi is an undercover Kenyan field agent (Captain Phillips' Oscar nominee Barkhad Abdi), who flies a tiny camera the size and shape of a beetle inside the house for clearer surveillance.

"Eye in the Sky" stars Helen Mirren as Colonel Katherine Powell, who is looking for clearance to strike a terrorist safe house.

The various officials weigh their options after discovering multiple suicide bomb vests on the premises for presumably imminent use. Complicating matters is the presence of a young girl selling bread nearby well within the strike radius. The UK officials debate the political, legal, and ethical concerns, as they try to factor the potential loss of one innocent girl with the 80 or so casualties that would result from city suicide bombings.

Eye in the Sky's narrow focus distinguishes it. With its few settings and real time design, it feels kind of like a stage play as it unfolds with instant messages and video conferencing. The poster and cover may make it look like an action movie, but most of the time it is an inaction movie. Still, suspense is generated as the morality and ethicality of drone warfare is put on trial 12 Angry Men-style.

In his final live-action film role, Alan Rickman plays Lieutenant General Frank Benson, an official part of the kill chain debating authority to strike.

This British film is directed by South Africa's Gavin Hood, who returns to something more on the scale of his Oscar-winning Tsotsi after helming a pair of mainstream genre pics in
X-Men Origins: Wolverine and Ender's Game. The film marks only the second theatrical credit for screenwriter Guy Hibbert, who is extensively seasoned in British telemovies and miniseries.

Eye in the Sky is dedicated to Rickman, for whom this stands as a final live-action credit and a fairly uncharacteristic one at that.

The film grossed a pretty respectable $18.6 million in a release that peaked at a little over 1,000 theaters. Both of those numbers are records for Bleecker Street, a studio that began releasing movies last year to modest box office impact. Like other Bleecker Street titles, Eye in the Sky arrives on home video from Universal, who treats it to a DVD and the Blu-ray + DVD + Digital HD combo pack reviewed here.

Eye in the Sky: Blu-ray + DVD + Digital HD cover art - click to buy from Amazon.com Blu-ray & DVD Details

2.40:1 Widescreen (DVD Anamorphic)
Blu-ray: 5.1 DTS-HD MA (English); DVD: Dolby Digital 5.1 (English)
Subtitles: English for Hearing Impaired, Spanish
Extras Subtitled; Not Closed Captioned
Release Date: June 28, 2016
Suggested Retail Price: $34.98
Two single-sided, dual-layered discs (DVD-9 & BD-50)
Blue Keepcase in Embossed Cardboard Slipcover
Also available on standalone DVD ($29.98 SRP) and Amazon Instant Video


Eye in the Sky boasts excellent picture and sound on Blu-ray. The 2.40:1 video is sharp and vibrant, while the 5.1 DTS-HD master audio makes impact felt in scenes with prominent sound effects.

Colin Firth may not appear in the film, but as a producer he shows up in the making-of shorts. As on the poster art, Helen Mirren thinks things over on the Eye in the Sky DVD main menu.


On both discs, Eye in the Sky is accompanied by two minor trailer-like shorts:
"Perspectives" (1:21) and "Morals" (1:31). Both add some talking head remarks (including those from Colin Firth, a producer but not actor here), while the second one adds a touch of behind-the-scenes footage.

The discs open with a full trailer for Desierto and shorter video promos for Triple 9, London Has Fallen, Secret in Their Eyes, "Mr. Robot": Season One, and Steve Jobs. The Previews menu doesn't hold any of those, instead offering trailers for Bleecker Street's Danny Collins, I'll See You in My Dreams, Pawn Sacrifice, and Trumbo. Eye in the Sky's own trailer does not make the cut.

The menu attaches score to a still image adapted from the poster art.

The two plainly-labeled discs share a slipcovered keepcase along with a Digital HD insert that doubles as an ad for a sextet of Universal action Blu-rays.

Working out of a bunker in Las Vegas, drone pilot Chris Watts (Aaron Paul) has real reservations about dropping a missile.


Based on its high IMDb rating and near-perfect Rotten Tomatoes score, it's quite possible you'll find Eye in the Sky gripping and thought-provoking enough to forgive the inert nature of its storytelling. I did not.

Universal's combo pack supplies high quality picture and sound but practically no extras. If you're compelled to check out Alan Rickman's final onscreen performance or are simply intrigued by the subject matter, then don't let my lack of enthusiasm for the film stand in your way.

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Related Reviews:
New to Disc: Knight of Cups The Finest Hours My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2
Good Kill Eagle Eye Zero Dark Thirty Argo Vantage Point Enemy of the State
Helen Mirren: Woman in Gold The Queen The Hundred-Foot Journey | Alan Rickman: A Little Chaos Galaxy Quest Gambit
Aaron Paul: Need for Speed Breaking Bad: Season 2 | Barkhad Abdi: Captain Phillips The Brothers Grimsby
Directed by Gavin Hood: Tsotsi

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Reviewed June 29, 2016.

Text copyright 2016 DVDizzy.com. Images copyright 2016 Bleecker Street, Entertainment One Features, Raindog Films, and Universal Pictures Home Entertainment.
Unauthorized reproduction prohibited.