‘Eye in the Sky’ probes the responsibility of morality

“Eye in the Sky” (2015 production, 2016 release). Cast: Helen Mirren, Alan Rickman, Aaron Paul, Barkhad Abdi, Phoebe Fox, Iain Glen, Aisha Takow, Armann Haggio, Faisa Hassan, Babou Ceesay, Francis Chouler, Richard McCabe, Monica Dolan, Jeremy Northam, Michael O’Keefe, Laila Robins, Gavin Hood, Lemogong Tsipa, Vusi Kunene, Emmy Weyime, Lex King, Ahmed Mohamed Ali, Mondé Sibisi, Ali Mohamed, Abdilatief Takow. Director: Gavin Hood. Screenplay: Guy Hibbert. Web site. Trailer.

Balancing the needs for security and morality often means walking a razor’s edge. In an age where the threat of terrorism looms in the shadows, this is an especially important concern. But who is going to take the responsibility for making such difficult decisions? Such is the debate that frames the story line in the suspenseful new military thriller, “Eye in the Sky.”

When British military commander Col. Katherine Powell (Helen Mirren) is tasked with gathering credible intelligence concerning the whereabouts of a suspected terrorist in advance of a pending raid on a Kenyan radical safe house, the intent is to create conditions enabling the insurgent’s capture. The person in question, Susan Danford (Lex King), a radicalized British citizen, is believed to have recently arrived in Nairobi to collaborate with Somali extremists living there, perhaps to aid in carrying out a terrorist attack. With the assistance of Kenyan field operatives (Barkhad Abdi, Emmy Weyime, Vusi Kunene) and American military surveillance partners around the globe (Phoebe Fox, Gavin Hood, Lemogong Tsipa), Powell and her staff seek to confirm Danford’s identity to proceed with their plan.

However, when it becomes apparent that the safe house is harboring a group of high-profile insurgents preparing for an attack, the nature of the mission changes – to one involving a drone strike to take out the targets. But, before long, that new mission is called into question when a young girl (Aisha Takow) is found precariously close to the strike zone. How should the Colonel and her staff proceed in light of these new circumstances?

This new scenario prompts a series of debates among everyone involved, including the Colonel’s superior officer, Lt. Gen. Frank Benson, (Alan Rickman); advisors to the Prime Minister (Richard McCabe, Monica Dolan, Jeremy Northam, Iain Glen); a military legal expert (Francis Chouler); U.S. diplomatic partners (Michael O’Keefe, Laila Robins); and the American drone pilot who would be responsible for firing the missiles into the target zone, Lt. Steve Watts (Aaron Paul). These circumstances are further complicated by a race against the clock; with the window of opportunity quickly closing, there’s little time to make a decision.

As the various debates play out, the principals grapple with what a strike would mean legally, ethically and from a propaganda standpoint. But, considering the stakes, can these issues be given their proper due in the time that permits? What would it mean to carry out a strike in terms of public perception, morality and strategic importance? And can it be legally “justified”? Indeed, is a “satisfactory” outcome possible? These are the hot-button questions that must be addressed – and quickly.

When a hard choice surfaces, and everyone associated with it agrees that a certain difficult action must be taken, who will be the one to stand up and make the decision to proceed? That can be especially problematic when questions of life and death are involved, such as balancing the impact likely to result from a small but significant loss with that of a large and potentially greater catastrophe. What are the decision-makers to do?

Situations like this raise significant questions of responsibility. When we’re seeking to bring about a particular outcome, it’s something that almost invariably must be addressed. The reason for this is that, if we’re looking to create a particular result, we’re also the ones who must live with its associated consequences. But, in approaching something like this, how can we know we’re making the right choice?

This is where the conscious creation process comes into play. This philosophy, which maintains that we create the reality we experience through the power of our thoughts, beliefs and intents, ultimately leads to the manifestations that appear in our lives, including the fallout that results from their materialization.

Those who give little thought to what they wish to materialize seldom concern themselves with consequences. They may get lucky, or they may wind up mired in a bigger problem than what they started with. This approach, known as un-conscious creation or creation by default, tends to be a shortsighted and irresponsible tactic, full of uncertainties and potential catastrophe.

Those who take their responsibility seriously place themselves in a somewhat better position than their unconcerned counterparts. This is not to suggest that their task is any easier, though. However, by being able to envision their desired outcomes and the fallout that comes from them, they stand a better chance of seeing what their manifestation efforts will ultimately yield. Such prescience also makes it possible to consider alternatives, perhaps even those that enable the realization of more satisfactory results.

How this plays out depends on the beliefs, thoughts and intents we employ in the creative process, for what results from them will be a direct reflection of these intangible building blocks. This means choosing our beliefs, thoughts and intents carefully, which may not always be easy, depending on what they will be used to create. In a scenario like the one depicted here, for example, balancing the need for security with considerations of morality means we must handle our choices deftly, because one misstep can be potentially catastrophic. Indeed, given the specifics of this narrative, the choices can be especially dicey, where none of the outcomes is particularly palatable, where there are only degrees of acceptability involved.

In the end, circumstances like this ultimately bring us back to the aforementioned question of responsibility, an element that should be figured into the belief choices we make. As seasoned conscious creation practitioners know, if we buy into this philosophy as the basis for our worldview, we can’t realistically justify a contention that we purposely create some outcomes while others “just happen.” If we’re involved in any creation scenario, we’re involved in all creation scenarios. Which means that we’re equally responsible for the results in every situation, no matter how pleasant or deplorable they may be. Again, we must choose wisely.

To be sure, it’s heartening to see the characters in this film take their sense of responsibility as seriously as they do, as seen by their willingness to debate their actions. However, their reluctance to make a decision also suggests that they have serious reservations about their options. Should any of them be pursued? But, perhaps more importantly, rather than debate the largely unpalatable choices at hand, maybe the interested parties should instead ask themselves, “Why are we in the position of having to make this decision in the first place? What did we initially create that has wrought these consequences that we must now deal with?” By looking at these questions, perhaps a new awareness of our actions (and beliefs) might emerge that can help us avoid creating circumstances that force us to make such hard choices in the first place. Indeed, this could be the most responsible step we can take – and one that we should consider seriously to avoid such difficulties going forward.

“Eye in the Sky” examines the foregoing issues with an interesting mix of tense drama in the same vein as the recently released combat saga “A War” and biting satire a la “Dr. Strangelove” (1964). Walking this precarious narrative tightrope requires a real balancing act, but director Gavin Hood traverses it skillfully. The film admittedly drags a bit in the first 45 minutes, but, once the basic thrust of the story emerges, the picture becomes both gripping and darkly humorous in a highly distinctive way. Mirren, Paul and Rickman give terrific performances in a chilling yet thought-provoking tale that gives us much to ponder about the nature of conflict and its morality (if such a notion is even possible).

Living with our decisions may not be something we’re comfortable with, but it’s imperative that we do so, because the creations that arise from those choices all originate from us, like it or not. The sooner we accept our participation in these materializations – and the inherent responsibility that comes with that – the sooner we’ll become aware of the integral role we play in these scenarios. And, one would hope, such awareness will ultimately lead to better choices – and better outcomes – for us all.

Copyright © 2016, by Brent Marchant. All rights reserved.

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