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Cannes 2014 News - Barkhad Abdi Joins Colin Firth In Military Drones Thriller 'Eye In The Sky'

Photo of Tambay A. Obenson By Tambay A. Obenson | Shadow and Act May 14, 2014 at 2:26PM

Cannes 2014 News - Barkhad Abdi Joins Colin Firth In Military Drones Thriller 'Eye In The Sky'
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Barkhad Abdi

It previously occurred to me that, Gabourey Sidibe and Barkhad Abdi - 2 actors who many believed likely wouldn't find much work in Hollywood, after their acclaimed big screen debuts - are, thus far, defying all expectations, and are doing just the opposite.

Sidibe has worked rather consistently on both the big and small screens, since she won praise for her starring title role in Precious (she may actually be working even more regularly than a lot of her more so-called *bankable* black actress contemporaries); And Abdi, who picked up an Oscar nomination this year, for his supporting role in Captain Phillips, has already banked one starring role, playing famous South African marathon runner, Willie Mtolo, in an upcoming historical drama centered on his life, and, more recently, joined the cast of another project - Judd Apatow's Trainwreck.

Now we can add a third project to his burgeoning slate: Eye in The Sky, a thriller set in the morally murky world of military drones, which will be directed by Oscar winning South African director Gavin Hood (Tsotsi).

Abdi joins a cast that is lead by Colin Firth, who will star as a military intelligence officer charged with remotely commanding a top-secret drone operation to capture a group of terrorists from their safe-house in Nairobi, Kenya. 

Here's a bit more detail to tease:

A group of leading terror suspects gather in a secluded safe house in Nairobi, Kenya, to plan a suicide bombing mission. Meanwhile, British, Kenyan and American intelligence units, working together, keep the terrorists under real-time surveillance using cameras mounted on a remotely piloted, heavily armed MQ-9 Reaper Drone: an "Eye in the Sky." But as the British & Americans prepare to assassinate the terror suspects using a Hellfire missile, launched from the unseen drone flying at 20,000 feet, a little Kenyan girl walks into the kill zone, selling bread.

Of course, leading those about to launch the missile (likely Firth's character) into a crisis of conscience - to fire and likely kill the innocent little girl selling bread, in the process of trying to assassinate the terror suspects, or not, and risk losing an opportunity to take out potential suicide bombers before they carry out their mission.

Or something like that...

Firth's own Raindog Films is co-producing the film, with Guy Hibbert, writer of the Channel 4 (UK) series Complicit (which starred David Oyelowo by the way), penning the screenplay.

"The use of unmanned aircraft in modern warfare and in the so-called 'war on terror' poses critical questions for us all," said Firth. "Raindog was launched with the hope of making challenging, thoughtful films, and I'm pleased to be a part of an exploration into such a crucial issue."

No word on what role exactly Abdi has signed up to play (I'd assume one of the terror suspects, who may actually be less a terror than his would-be executors believe he is?).

The project is being shopped at the Cannes Film Market (Marche Du Film), which kicks off today.

An August production start date in South Africa is eyed.

Abdi, the former limo driver turned Oscar nominee's story hasn't quite been one of rags-to-riches, despite all the press and accolades he's received for his performance in Captain Phillips.

As Sergio noted in a previous post on Abdi's financial hardships, he was paid $65,000 two years ago for his role in Captain Phillips, which earned him a best supporting actor nomination this season. At the time, he didn't have an agent to even negotiate his salary. He certainly does now though, after revealing his plans to move to Los Angeles and pursue his acting career.

Thus far, with 3 fresh jobs on the horizon, he's off to an auspicious start, as much of our attention has been on what Lupita Nyong'o (his fellow first time Oscar nominee - and winner - who also made her big screen debut last year), will do next.

This article is related to: Barkhad Abdi


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