with Helen Mirren, Alan Rickman, Aaron Paul, Barkhad Abdi.
What sometimes comes across as an ethics lesson in the costs of war, this movie is so intelligently written that even though you know you are being taught something, you don’t care, because it shows you how insiders must make decisions that involve killing the innocent.
Helen Mirren is a colonel whose mission is to take out some suicide bombers preparing to attack. The screenplay exposes how making important military decisions can be thwarted by real life, as the chain of commands keeps “referring up” (what Americans more familiarly call “passing the buck”). The little girl who has planted her bread stall within range of the attack is someone we care about. Even though the people around her are oblivious to the danger, Hood aims to show you how actions have consequences, how technology does not keep us safe, how arguments based on politics in the middle of a war get in the way of those waging it.
Most admirably the movie puts you inside the head of a strategist, a bomber pilot, a little girl mastering the art of the hula hoop, and an operative on the ground in constant danger.
Acting kudos to the girl, Mirren, Aaron Paul as the pilot who has a moment of courage, Barkhad Abdi more familiar to us as the pirate in Captain Phillips (“I am the captain now!”), and lastly, Alan Rickman, to whom this movie is dedicated and whose last line we will ever hear him say in a movie is: “Never underestimate the soldier’s understanding of the cost of war.”