Good Kill (7/10)
by Tony Medley
Runtime 103 minutes.
Not for children.
A few years ago videos of drone strikes killing Islamic terrorists
started proliferating over the internet. There were voices talking and
Jihadists shown being blasted to kingdom come. This is a movie about the
people controlling the drones. In this movie they are located in what
looks like portable offices (like portable toilets) located outside of
Tom Egan (Ethan Hawke) is a fighter pilot who has been assigned to be
the ďpilotĒ navigating the drone from inside the portable office and
pushing the button launching the devastating rocket bombs. He is
troubled by what he does and it gets worse when the CIA takes over
designating the targets.
Unhappy that he no longer pilots a plane, he gets worse as he
contemplates orders that require him to kill what he feels are
non-combatants. His bad attitude seriously affects his marriage and his
relationship with his long-suffering wife, Molly (January Jones).
What makes flying drones significantly harder on the pilots like Maj.
Egan is that pilots of jet fighter-bombers drop their payload and fly
away. Drone pilots hover over the target to conduct ďdamage assessment,Ē
so they get to see the real damage that occurs as a result of their
Written, directed, and produced by Andrew Niccol, the aerial shots of
Afghanistan, Waziristan, and Yemen were all shot in Morocco. And since
itís about drones, there are no ground shots of those locations. They
are all viewed from the vantage point of a drone flying over. Niccol had
two actual drone pilots with him at all times to ensure the accuracy of
what he was filming. However the CIA is presented as sort of a bad guy
in the film. Niccol says that even though CIA missions are flown out of
the Nevada base, his drone advisors refused to discuss or acknowledge
anything about the CIA.
There is some interesting cinematography. Some of the colors of Egan
seem skewed a little, maybe to emphasize his mental problems. Hawke
gives a good performance, as does Jones. Bruce Greenwood is convincing
as Eganís commanding officer, Lt. Col Johns.
The varying viewpoints of whatís being done are explored through
conversations with Eganís crew, at least one of whom supports kills that
also take out innocent bystanders, but the film is clearly slanted
towards the idea that drone warfare is immoral. Even so, itís well done
and does emphasize the enormous mental problems created by war.