A drone pilot (Aaron Paul) has a missile shot all lined up and is about to pull the trigger on a houseful of terrorists when a little girl parks herself within the blast zone to sell some bread. This is just one of the dilemmas brilliantly depicted in writer-director Gavin Hood’s tense thriller about drone warfare and the political ramifications of collateral damage.
Helen Mirren is superb as Colonel Katherine Powell, determined to take out multiple targets on Great Britain’s terrorist list, but needing to check the legalities of all her strategies before she can make a single move.
In his last live action screen appearance, Alan Rickman is terrific as Lt. General Frank Benson, drolly responding to the bureaucracy that’s keeping him from doing his job.
Paul brings his best big screen acting yet to the role of Steve Watts, a drone commander torn between killing an innocent child or preventing potential scores from being killed in a terrorist bombing. Phoebe Fox gives a breakthrough performance as Carrie Gershon, drone co-commander.
The film poses many questions and many dilemmas, and wisely doesn’t take sides. It presents you with the frustrating situations and the consequences, and the viewer is left to mull it all over. This is one of the better-acted films in the first third of 2016.