It’s the last live-action film that Rickman made before his death in January, 2016 and is dedicated to his memory (although he did voice a character in the animated Alice Through the Looking Glass.
As the film gets underway, we find a young girl twirling a hula-hoop in the backyard of her home in Kenya.
In England a British Army Colonel, Katherine Powell (Helen Mirren), wakes up to find that an undercover British/Kenyan agent has been murdered by Al-Shabaab militants.
From Northwood Headquarters in Hertfordshire, Powell takes command of a mission to capture three of Al-Shabaab’s top leaders who are meeting in a safe house in Nairobi.
The mission brings together a multi-national team, linked by video hook-up, with air surveillance is provided by a USAF MQ-9 Reaper drone controlled from Creech Air Force Base in Nevada by Second Lieutenant Steve Watts (Aaron Paul).
Undercover Kenyan field agent Barkhad Abdi (Jama Farah) uses cool, hi-tech short-range bird and insect copter cameras to surveil the targets.
The mission is supervised by a COBRA meeting that includes British Lieutenant General Frank Benson (Alan Rickman), two Government ministers and a ministerial under-secretary.
Abdi discovers the militants are arming two suicide bombers for what is thought to be an attack on a civilian target.
Powell decides the danger posed by the bombers changes the mission objective from “capture” to “kill” and requests Watts to prepare for a precision Hellfire missile attack on the building.
But before she can get the go ahead she is bound to get a legal opinion from British Army legal counsel.
Frustrated, counsel advises her to seek approval from superiors.
With time running out the matter is referred to the UK Foreign Secretary (Iain Glen), who is in the middle of a trade mission to Singapore, who passes the decision on to the US Secretary of State.
Just as they are about to push the button that fires the deadly drone strike the young girl with the hula-hoop decides to set up a bread stall outside the building where the targets are located.
Imagine their dilemma . . .
The drone operator demands a review of the decision to fire, hoping to give the girl time to move.