I’ve stated this before, I do not approve of war, I am pro-peace. When I watch a war film, it always makes me get involved emotionally, because of how strongly I feel about the subject, but at the same time it frustrates me to think that war is real and war is happening this very moment, and war will inevitably be a part of the future. As with all things and the future, they evolve, and the evolution of war is ugly. Good Kill helps us see a little into the modern warfare, that is, drone warfare.
Good Kill is not a great film, but it is a good film. Ethan Hawke is in it, so thats a good start, and Andrew Niccol directed it, thats good too, but when you put these two together, then we’re pretty much set for a treat! The reason I say this is that, the very first film that I ever wrote a review for, was Gattaca, in high school. Gattaca was Andrew’s directional debut, and his first collaboration with Ethan Hawke. Writing this makes me want to re-watch Gattaca! Admittedly Andrew Niccol has had his ups and downs, but Good Kill is solid.
As in Gattaca there is a very clinical feel to Good Kill, a lonesome feel, this is most certainly not a light film, its heavy and foreboding plus the subject line is very morbid, war. I did find it interesting, and it made me look further into facts about ‘the drone wars’. The film does portray this type of combat mostly close to the real thing, thats according to Brandon Bryant, a six year drone fighter. As hollywood so perfectly does, there are elements that are made to look way more aesthetically pleasing, that what they really are, like the drone images that we see from up above.
The film feels like its broken into two parts. Tom Egan’s (Ethan Hawke) life at ‘work’ and his life at ‘home’. I feel like the director is trying to get us to feel or get a sense of what Tom is going through, particularly with what he has to do on a daily basis. Plus this character is dealing with a lot of deep issues. Where the movie fails is that these issues for the most part remain unresolved. The relationships in this movie are the hardest thing to watch, Tom’s ‘home’ life is so strained, and this point is made more times than is necessary, that you start to feel like you’re in that little box, that Tom spends most of his time in, flying and finding targets to bomb or not to bomb. I would have liked to see more character resolution in Tom, rather than a repetitive portrayal of his already established wrongs.
January Jones’s character Molly Egan, Tom’s wife could have been written a lot better, its frustrating to watch her scenes, plus Zoe Kravitz’s character Vera Suarez, Tom’s work partner, feels like a wasted opportunity. There was potential for her character to be stronger and more meaningful, but it felt like direction for her character was lost half-way.
Usually when watching a war-film, I am expecting to hear a lot of heavy and war driven sounds, but what makes Good Kill interesting to watch is that all the ‘battle’ sequences are for the most part, in silence. The director’s choice to only show us what the ‘pilot’ see’s is clever, and aptly portrays that frustration he/she must be feeling. The score is great but the soundtrack may be a little in your face, over the top, sometimes.
Good Kill is interesting, and insightful, it has its good and bad parts, but for the most part it’s worth considering.
TRIVIA COOKIE: This film was released on September 5th 2014 at the Venice International Film Festival, and will have a US release date of May 15th 2015.