This film will spoil you with a masterclass from the acting world, will haunt you with the ghost of the late Alan Rickman, and place you right in the centre of a very modern and moral dilemma.
This would make for a very effective stage drama, as although the titular drones and modern warfare are the subject matter, this is about people. People of power. People who report and administer the decisions and actions of those in power. People who are the victims of these decisions and actions. Great thought has gone into the layers of the shift and perceptions of who has the power, and who are the victims at different points here.
There are the elements of CGI, action and effects on show here, but they are purely to serve the drama that is being played out so effectively. We have the powerhouse performance of Dame Helen, contrasted with a less showy but perfectly effective Aaron Paul and associate Phoebe Fox. Barkhad Abdi of Captain Philips stands out again, as do British veterans – Jeremy Northam, Monica Dolan and Iain Glen.
The film is tightly and expertly handled by director Gavin Hood, who proves that you can still deliver something very effectively in under 1 hr 45 mins, and doesn’t feel the need to make a film that is 2 to 3 hrs long, as is the trend with so many films from the last couple of years.
For me this is not a timeless or classic film. However it is a film that makes a significant impact on you personally, forcing you to put your self in the position of who to side with, and what decisions you might make in questionable and high pressured circumstances. It shows off the power of great acting to deliver story and drama with a cluster of ensemble groups, complementing each other naturally and allowing each player to have their part and purpose.
8/10 – Jez Gibson