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Soundtrack review: Eye in the sky (Paul Hepker and Mark Kilian – 2016)

Film scores

Soundtrack review: Eye in the sky (Paul Hepker and Mark Kilian – 2016)


“Eye in the Sky” is a 2015 British thriller film starring Helen Mirren, Aaron Paul, Alan Rickman, and Barkhad Abdi. The film, directed by Gavin Hood based on a screenplay by Guy Hibbert, features drone warfare. Colonel Katherine Powell leads a secret drone mission to capture a terrorist group living in a safehouse in Nairobi, Kenya. When Powell learns that the group plans to carry out a suicide attack, her objective is changed to kill the terrorists. Drone pilot Steve Watts targets the safehouse for destruction but reports a nine-year-old girl entering the kill zone. Powell contacts politicians and lawyers to determine whether to take action. The score was written by Paul Hepker and Mark Kilian.

Straight away the score welcomes me with tension; a real, palpable tension created by the music that sounds like a heartbeat that gets faster and faster. The pulses are sharp and dark and they tell me that the matters at hand are serious and with a time limit. The composers choose a stealthy path and stay on it. when I listen to this score I feel as if I am hiding in a tunnel afraid that I might not be safe on the surface. The music is claustrophobic and shadowy but I cannot walk away from it. I want to see how the musical story ends.

I love film music because, or should I say, I love it the most when it makes me feel. The feelings don’t necessarily have to be good or happy; that’s not the point. For me film music has to touch me, move me, affect me. The atmosphere in “Eye in the sky” is thick and unsafe and I can feel that. The pulses, the construction of the cues, the short and sharp motifs they all make me feel as if I’m being watched, chased, scratched and that everything around me is dangerous. A cue like “Bravo 27 ready to follow” makes me want to turn up the volume so I can experience it even more intense. There are times when this score reminds me of the brilliant “Sicario” from last year. The feeling gets more poignant when the first ray of emotion shines through the darkness in “She’s beautiful”. I imagine this is the moment when they see the little girl. I feel that, I feel the dilemma.

“Eye in the sky” is a one hour long musical tension fest. The score is meaningful and addictive. It might make you feel uncomfortable at times but that just means the composers did a great job. The music claws, breathes, whispers and no matter what happens, it never stops coming after you. This is a brilliant thriller score and I loved every interesting twist and turn it took. This score is a thin tunnel guarded by barbed wire and yet I’m sure you will enjoy navigating it.

Cue rating: 91 / 100

Total minutes of excellence: 34 / 65

Album excellence: 52%



Operation Egret

Condor Has Landed

Showman50 Flies The Bird

Bravo 27 Ready To Follow

She’s Beautiful


Use Those Ten Minutes

You May Proceed

Girl With The Hoop

Two Loaves Left

Rifle Rifle Rifle

Never Tell A Soldier

You Did Well



Mihnea Manduteanu

I have been listening to film music for 25 years and writing about it since 2014. I've written over 1000 reviews and I can't imagine myself doing anything else. I am also a member of IFMCA (International Film Music Critics Association).

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