‘Good Kill’ doesn’t know which direction to fly

May 22, 2015195 min

Ethan Hawk and director Andrew Niccol pair up for the first time since “Gattaca” to tell the very grey middle ground of our country’s go to in defense technology.

“Good Kill,” is a film that you knew from the trailers was going to be really deep and moving or really shallow and anti-war propaganda heavy. The outcome ends up being too much of a little of both.

The story follows drone pilot Major Thomas Egan (Ethan Hawke) on his daily routine of going into work in Nevada and blowing away the bad guys in The Middle East. Egan wants nothing more than to get back on a plane to be on the battlefield again. However, his high skill in drone piloting keeps him grounded controlling drones. When we first meet Egan he is already unhappy and has put a barrier between him and his family.

As the film goes on Egan begins turning to alcohol to help him deal with the horrible things that he has to see everyday. Those horrible things include killing the bad guys but at times also striking collateral damage in the form of innocent civilians.

The things he has to endure and keep inside end up spinning him out of control at home and begin to take its toll at work as well.

“Good Kill,” is a smart film and certainly one where everyone involved did their homework on the subject of drone warfare. The footage from drone strikes adds a level of believable depth and gives a look at job that has changed the way the United States operates on the battlefield.

While the footage and subject matter is compelling the characters feel very made for TV-ish. The performances and scenes begin to feel repetitive as the film retreads over its tracks several times.

What could have been a really solid film is brought down a few pegs by the uncertainty of the direction it wants to take. At times it feels like a pro war film and at other times it darts the other direction and wants to be an anti-drone warfare film. If “Good Kill” decided which direction it wanted to go, it would have been able to steady its performances in turn.

Bruce Greenwood who plays Lt. Colonel Jack Johns gives a strong performance and one of the most entertaining and self assured of the group.

With a few moments of good performances and some captivating real life footage of drone strikes and the protocol that goes into them, “Good Kill” saves itself from all out disaster. What we end up with is an entertaining film that offers up some great information but ends up being an inch short of being short of its full ability.

Trey Hilburn III

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