There have been many films and television series that involve top-level characters carrying out orders to bomb a certain location due to potential imminent threats. As we see in the operations rooms, those executives only see the area by what the infrared cameras show them; they don’t see the actual humans in the area. Paul Franklin’s Fireworks imagines a scenario in which one could possibly see the people in the area, and if their decision may change based on what they actually see on the ground. Using Virtual Production, the team is able to see the area in real-time and what it looks like beyond the infrared images.
Paul Franklin is a name many may not recognize right away, but his work in visual effects is something that has been praised for decades. Having worked alongside Christopher Nolan for The Dark Knight trilogy, Inception, and Interstellar, as well as two Harry Potter films, Franklin has proven to have a keen eye for making the visuals come alive. The visual effects department for Fireworks was handled by Christian Frausig and Guy Hancock, both of whom also have a solid track record in the field. The result is something that is unique to behold and makes one curious as to the future of not just filmmaking but also real-life situations such as this.
But the major problem with Fireworks is that it becomes a bit too routine in its approach. It showcases a tense verbal battle between the two operations leaders and what they think is the correct course of action. Set inside an MI6 office, Gillian (Charlotte Riley) trusts her team can make the mission a successful one, but there is disagreement with her higher-up, Ellie (Denise Gough). Time runs short, as the location in Tripoli that they are set to attack with a drone faces imminent danger. There comes a point where the team must choose the right decision or the one that is the most ethical.
Given that the film only lasts 15 minutes, one wishes there could be more depth. It’s almost as if there’s too much story and not enough time to truly make it come alive and stand out amongst other thrillers about the ethical use of drone weaponry. The use of Virtual Production to showcase the figures on the ground in real-time adds a more human touch to a situation like this, but there isn’t enough time to really have the audience connect to the situation and make them feel like they are the ones left with making the tough decision.
Fireworks is a well-intended thriller with a unique approach to wondering if people in these roles may become more sympathetic if they could truly see beyond what the eye in the sky showcases. But it doesn’t give the viewer enough time to emotionally connect to the whole story, nor does it really set itself apart from films such as Eye in the Sky or others that have showcased a situation like this but with more powerful results.