The film follows multiple parties, who are simultaneously involved in a mission to apprehend terrorists in Kenya. Initially, the mission is intended to be a capture with no casualties, only having a military drone (armed with hellfire missiles) to be the “eye in the sky” for the operation. However, when the terrorists enter Somali controlled Kenya, where the military is unable to apprehend them, and the military realizes that the terrorists are planning a suicide bombing, the mission turns from capture to kill. The different parties involved in the mission begin to argue over the validity of a full-on drone strike, arguing whether or not the collateral damage of the strike is worth stopping the suicide bombing.
As with the majority of dramatic thrillers regarding topical and controversial issues, the core of the film is structured around the struggle to decide what is right and what isn’t. Drone strikes are obviously a very controversial political issue, and the film does quite a good job at showing both sides of the argument regarding their use. As the film progresses, the situation keeps changing, adding to the tension and drama. No matter what side you may go into the film believing is right, the movie does an excellent job of getting you to question what you initially believed was moral and necessary. Like all great films about controversy, it doesn’t tell you which side is right and which side is wrong, but leaves that up to the interpretation of the audience.
And what makes the drama of the argument over said drone strike so tense and interesting are the performances. Mirren, Paul and Rickman all give excellent performances, pushing the tension of the film even further. One of the only issues I took with the film was the occasional flash of clunky, expository dialogue, which the actors try to break through. But, when the lines the actors perform aren’t stunted and forced, they feel quite organic. The performances truly enhanced the tense scenes, making the film pretty exciting. Overall, we are left with a pretty good topical drama. Maybe I should go into films blind more often.