Col. Katherine Powell, a military officer in command of an operation to capture terrorists in Kenya, sees her mission escalate when a girl enters the kill zone triggering an international dispute over the implications of modern warfare.
Colonel Katherine Powell is a UK-based military officer in command of a top secret drone operation to capture terrorists in Kenya. Through remote surveillance and on-the-ground intel, Powell discovers the targets are planning a suicide bombing and the mission escalates from "capture" to "kill." But as American pilot Steve Watts (Aaron Paul) is about to engage, a nine-year old girl enters the kill zone triggering an international dispute, reaching the highest levels of US and British government, over the moral, political, and personal implications of modern warfare.Written by
Due to budgetary restrictions during the six-week shoot, actors often worked individually. For example, when Helen Mirren is in the decision room, she was actually speaking in real time to the film's director, Gavin Hood, and facing a green screen with a red 'X' designating her line of focus. See more »
Kenya's gun laws prevent ownership of even toy guns; an exception being if one's home has been broken into repeatedly, in which case a shotgun is permitted (after a rigorous approval process). The notion that people would be standing guard with a gun (much less driving around with a mounted machine gun) is nonsense, and this takes place only a few miles from downtown. See more »
Relevant political drama marred by overlong decision making
Are our political leaders really the dithering, self seeking personalities that this film makes them out to be? We are all familiar with the few being sacrificed for the greater good; this film implies once the few become familiar, the decision process is marred.
However, this is overall a very good and well intentioned movie, probably the finest that Gavin Hood has ever made. Of course, he is on familiar ground back in the continent of Africa and his empathy with the way this continent is used for the evil ends of extremist groups shines throughout.
Generally speaking, I was more engaged with the first part of the film when the plot is set up, and Helen Mirren as a dedicated army colonel is chasing down Al Shabab in Kenya. The army has tracked down extremists to Nairobi and is sending in a drone to investigate a group of people heading for a house in the suburbs. Mirren wants to blow it up, the drone identifies a group of wanted terrorists, including British nationals, and slowly politicians get involved in the decision making process, and worse still, it looks as if a suicide bombing mission is about to happen.
I really found all this most engaging. The birds eye view of the drone turned out to be fascinating, as Hood lets the cameras explore through the eyes of hummingbird and bug drones.
Then the suits, i.e. the politicians start dithering.... and dithering... and changing their minds, often. The plot is further complicated by the need to reduce collateral damage, and when a child becomes involved in this, its a bit like Hood's old Tsotsi movie again, with a bigger and more dramatic subject.
The finale is stunning and almost redeems the pain that has gone on for about forty five minutes previously. Hood does a superb job of directing and the able cast, headed up by the no nonsense Mirren, graphically show us their emotional perspectives on the whole incident. Its just a pity that the story line gets caught up in a sort of time warp as the dithering goes on.
Despite its flaws, its well worth watching, and I really would have liked to have given it a better rating.
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