I watched this movie a couple of weeks ago when it popped up as a suggestion on local streaming. I had no idea what it was about – I thought it was a spy thriller starring Helen Mirren and Alan Rickman (in his last movie role). Plus it was filmed in South Africa, and directed by a South African so I decided to watch.
I normally cannot sit through an entire movie at home, but with this one I did not budge from my spot on the sofa, even though I could have paused it at any time. I was transfixed, despite the fact that there is not a whole lot going on during the movie, apart from a lot of talking. And wow, what talking. It was very difficult to watch, but I could not look away.
This is the best exploration of the ethical dilemma of modern warfare I have seen. The movie deals with drone warfare, collateral damage, developments within technology, politicians’ desire to protect themselves from career-ending repercussions, social media. There is a huge ethical and moral dilemma when choosing what you believe is the best for the many to the detriment of the few. Who has the right to decide? When warfare is not in the trenches but buttons pushed by people sitting in offices half a world away, how does it affect the soldiers pushing those buttons. Is bombing people as part of an office 9-to-5 the end of courage as we know it? Are those rules of engagement fair if war itself is never fair?
Utilitarianism is acting in a way that produces the best outcome. This movie really explores the ethics and the different sides of that in a modern world where warfare is almost unrecognisable from even fifteen years ago.