‘Eye in the Sky’ & the Ethics of Drone Warfare


Helen Mirren stars as Col. Katherine Powell in Eye in the Sky, a drone warfare thriller from South African director Gavin Hood (who spoke to us about drone warfare a couple of years ago when we talked about his movie version of Ender’s Game).

Mirren’s character is overseeing an operation to capture a radicalized Englishwoman who has joined Al-Shabaab terrorists in Kenya. Breaking Bad’s Aaron Paul plays Air Force drone pilot Steve Watts who’s scouting the mission from the U.S. and he discovers a suicide bomb plot before the capture mission begins.

Eye in the Sky Movie (3)

Before a revised mission gets official approval, a young girl wanders into the kill zone. Should they take out the bombers and suffer the negative publicity killing an innocent girl would bring and save the dozens who would be victims of the suicide bombs? Or should they let the bombers pursue their mission and keep the moral high ground in the eyes of the public?

Generals and government ministers debate the decision while the clock is ticking. What’s the right move here?

The trailer makes Eye in the Sky look like a heart-pounding action movie more than one of those sincere, eat-your-vegetables indie dramas. The movie debuts in theaters on March 11, 2015.

  • Leon Suchorski

    So what were the ethics of using balloons to spot the enemy in warfare at the Civil War time? Or using Zeppelins in WWI? They went on to dropping bombs on the enemy, and were accepted as a means of war.

  • Jack

    ANY movie with Helen Mirren makes my heart pound.

    • M. Stewart

      Yep…She is a Great Actress in any role she plays!!!

  • Piglet

    Do drone pilots object to killing kids? Apparently most do not. One who did told how his fellow drone operators described kids as “fun size terrorists” and killing them was “mowing the grass before it gets too long.” I wonder if the Waffen SS had similar expressions as they mowed their way through Eastern Europe and Russia?