In the shadowy world of drone warfare, combat unfolds like a video game–only with real lives at stake. After six tours of duty, Air Force pilot Tom Egan (Ethan Hawke) now fights the Taliban from an air-conditioned bunker in the Nevada desert. But as he yearns to get back in the cockpit of a real plane and becomes increasingly troubled by the collateral damage he causes each time he pushes a button, Egan’s nerves—and his relationship with his wife (Mad Men's January Jones)—begin to unravel.
ActorsStarring: Ethan Hawke, January Jones, Zoë Kravitz, Jake Abel, Bruce Greenwood, Alma Sisneros, Kristen Rakes, Dylan Kenin, Michael Sheets, Peter Coyote
Director Andrew Nicoll once again teams up with Ethan Hawke, just like they did in the excellent Gattaca (1997). And like Gattaca, Good Kill raises questions about the impact of technology developments on society at large through focusing on individuals and their personal struggles. This time in the context of warfare.
Major Thomas Egan (Hawke) flies combat drones over the Middle East from a control centre outside Las Vegas. He takes out (‘good kills’) what are deemed to be high risk subjects at the press of a button from his airconditioned room, and after his 8 hour daily shift returns home in the Vegas suburbs to his wife and kids as his normal routine. He hates it and wants to be back in an airplane where he feels he belongs as a pilot.
When his CO (a solid performance by Bruce Greenwood) informs his team that they have been put under direct control of the CIA, the missions start to get more dubious and the decisions more questionable.
The film takes a narrow approach to a big topic by focusing on a small number of people and their emotional state throughout the film; it doesn’t seek to openly address the bigger questions on the table but it definitely opens the door for those to be raised. Overall it is worth watching. It is not another Gattaca unfortunately, but stronger than American Sniper in posing questions about modern warfare.