Stepping into a shift managing a drone over Kenya, pilots Steve Watts and Carrie Gershon get tied up in a mission to monitor terrorist activity. Colonel Katherine Powell gets intel that the #2, #4, and #5 people on the East African terrorist list have been spotted and are meeting in a small village in Kenya. While the mission starts off as an attempt to capture their suspects, the problem escalates when they find that the meeting involves suiting up two suicide bombers. As they prepare to transition from a capture to kill objective, they struggle with the efficacy of releasing the hellfire missile from the drone compared to the potential collateral damage to the village.
New Stage of Combat: While the mission took place in Kenya, the majority of the operatives were safely away from danger. The pilots of the drone were sitting in a trailer in Las Vegas. The commanding officer and lieutenant general were operating from two different locations in England. The one operative inside the village was in danger of being found out at any moment. Combat in a new age means that massive damage and loss of life can happen from great distances, but the ethics of whether to engage or not is called into question.
Collateral Damage: One of the most important elements of the ethical dilemma in this film was related to the loss of one life to save hundreds. As the mission changes from a capture to a kill objective, the decision to push the button hinged on Watts noticing a young girl selling bread outside of the meeting compound. While the colonel was ready to release the missile regardless of approval from above, Watts and the other military officials involved engaged in the debate to ensure the safety of the child while following through on their desired mission.
Intensity Away from the Battlefield: Considering the nature of this story, the drama exists as much in the war rooms as on the streets in Kenya. Helen Mirren was icy but exact in her role as the colonel. As she navigated the pressures of collateral damage, she also stayed focused on the goal. Aaron Paul typically plays the brash, out of control protagonist, but he stepped back in this role to be the voice of reason, even challenging superiors to help save the life of the little girl. Alan Rickman presented a stalwart demeanor as he mediated between the military forces in one of his final roles.
Final Verdict: While the action is limited, the story is intense. The horrors of war were told from both a battlefield on the ground and in the war room, making from a dramatic debate of life and safety. This is definitely worth the watch.
Dan’s Rating: 4.0/5