Good Kill (USA/15A/102mins)

Directed by Andrew Niccol. Starring Ethan Hawke, January Jones, Zoe Kravitz.

THE PLOT: Experienced wartime pilot Tom Egan (Ethan Hawke) begins to question his reasons for doing his job, when his job evolves into that of a drone pilot.

THE VERDICT: GOOD KILL sees Ethan Hawke reunite with director Andrew Niccol for the third time – after Gattaca and Lord of War – in a tale about a pilot who finds himself grounded behind he controls of a drone flying over Afghanistan.

Hawke does well with what he is given, but his hands are tied with Andrew Niccol’s script, which supposedly planned to have Hawke’s character slowly descend into boredom and loneliness, but just ended up making him a secretive man who is unkind to his fickle wife. Zoe Kravitz takes on the role of drone rookie Vera Suarez and again, has precious little to do. The rest of the cast is made up of January Jones, Jake Abel and Bruce Greenwood.

Andrew Niccol’s script has an interesting idea at it’s heart; pilot placed behind the controls of a drone is bored due to the nature of his safe job, but in creating a film about a character who is bored, Niccol has only succeeded in making a boring film. Much of the screen time is either spent watching Hawke drink or watching him watch people on a video monitor. There is a mildly distracting subplot that sees the CIA step into take control of proceedings, but instead of this galvanising the team, it just leads to some sassy backchat from the soldiers.

As director, Niccol completely fails to make the film engaging after the first 15 minutes, and allows the film to devolve into watching people watching people. There is more than enough of this to prove the point about boredom, and it is not long before this becomes as boring for the audience as it is for the characters. The film’s pacing is a mess, and the final salvation for Hawke’s character is hardly a flag waving moment, meaning thatGOOD KILL goes out with a whimper.

In all,GOOD KILL is a boring film about people being bored. There is very little to engage here, with badly written characters and a plot that feels almost non-existent.


Review by Brogen Hayes

Good Kill
Review by Brogen Hayes
2.0Interesting idea at heart
  • filmbuff2011

    Militarised drones are all the rage now – they were the main drive of the plot in 24: Live Another Day. Now Kiwi director Andrew Niccol has re-teamed with his Gattaca star Ethan Hawke for a timely story based on true incidents. Tom (Hawke) is an experienced pilot for the US Airforce, but when we first meet him, he’s actually a drone pilot. Based in an airfield in Las Vegas, he remote-pilots a drone over the deserts of Afghanistan, taking out Taliban insurgents with the press of a joystick button. It’s all too easy, as he fires missiles a world away at enemies that never see them coming. Afterwards, he goes home to his wife Molly (January Jones) and has a beer. His commanding officer Jack (Bruce Greenwood) has complete faith in his abilities. That is, until CIA spook Langley (voiced by Peter Coyote) pulls Jack’s strings. Tom now has to take out suspected targets with his new co-pilot Vera (Zoe Kravitz), including killing rescuers coming to the scene of the explosion. This isn’t what he signed up for… Made with a foreigner’s beady eye on dubious American war politics, Good Kill is thankfully not a flag-waving, gung-ho piece about one man proving his worth and patriotism. It’s a far more intelligent film than that. It’s not overly critical of the modern way of American warfare in the Middle East, but Niccol does raising some questions about the ethics of drone strikes and the remote-control pilots at the controls. This isn’t how war should be. Hawke is compelling viewing here, making Tom a family man who wants to fly again and face his enemy rather than hide in the clouds and make surgical strikes. It’s not as controversial a film as it might initially seem. It’s more about one man facing up to his role in this remote-control war, rather than the politics behind it. At one point Vera asks Tom, why do we wear flight suits? Why indeed, if they’re sitting in air-conditioned cubicle just outside Las Vegas. An intriguing film that also has the guts to asks some morally important questions. Good Kill, Good Film. ****