The use of drones not only in warfare but for spying, reporting new and even delivering packages is a controversial subject and one that is open for debate. The questionable side of the subject is the dehumanising nature of being able to control a machine that could be anywhere in the world to do tasks that could lead to the death of innocent people. This is the subject that Drones looks at, just what is right?
Drones is the story of two soldiers, Sue Lawson (Eloise Mumford) the daughter of a general and now working as a drone controller along with her co-pilot Matt O’Leary (Jack Bowles). As their drone patrols the home of a known terrorist in Afghanistan they await his return ready to destroy the target on sight. As they watch the family put together a birthday party though and more of the family arrive including young children and innocent civilians just when it is right to strike?
The use of drones during warfare is a tool that has saved many lives, as well as taken many whether they were the target or not. The ability to fire a missile and simply destroy a target with greater accuracy is something that is invaluable, especially if there is no cost to the side taking the decision to strike, but the question of innocent lives cost by the strike will never go away. Some may argue that members of a suspected terrorist’s family are never innocent while others will say that this is an inexcusable cost, but when it comes down to it who is to blame for the choices made? The person pushing the button or the people in command of that soldier? I would argue those in command, the soldiers have one task and that is to follow commands.
In Drones the people with their fingers on the button question what they have to do, and while it seems logical that thought should be given into such undertaking to over-think the situation leads to hesitation and that can lead to casualties, there is little grey area in these choices though it is easy to write this and not think of the consequences, only those who find themselves in these situations can really know how it feels. When we watch these two soldiers debating on what their actions should be it is safe to say that their characters should know the consequences of their actions and whether this is the right thing. The cold hard fact though is they should not think, they should act, if they can’t trust their superior’s decisions who can they trust?
With most of the film taking part in the one drone control room it makes for a tense experience not only for the characters but the audience too. Mumford and Bowles play their parts well giving the characters a natural feel which the audience grows to trust, thus making the scene feel believable and their arguments make more sense. As this is their first day working together they form a tense friendship, this grows as they debate what they have to do and even gets physical during the tensest scenes. Their acting makes the audience buy into what they are seeing and never lose that believability that is needed.
Drones takes a look at a controversial subject but we do have to remember it is a fictional story, even if it is based on events that do happen at a time of war. Whether we support the use of these weapons or not, the film raises interesting questions and the legitimacy of the cost of life in attacks like these. One thing that isn’t questioned though is that the people who control the Drones have to follow orders and while the characters in this film make a moral choice and question authority, they are not to blame for the decision to strike on innocent people. Blame always remains with the person in command.
Drones is out on DVD in the UK now.