Good Kill (2014)

(Video on Demand, August 2015) Writer/Director Andrew Nichols has had a checked career with hits and misses, but he’s almost always interesting and Good Kill certainly fits that description.  A five-minutes-in-the-past depiction of that feels like a five-minutes-in-the-future anticipation, this is a film preoccupie not just by military drones, but the people flying them.  Our protagonist (played intensely by Ethan Hawke) is an ex-fighter pilot struggling with the ease with which the drones allow onsequence-free killing –feeling emasculated, worried about the video-game crazy younger drone operators, and feeling increasingly estranged from his wife.  It all leads to a definitive break, but not before musings on the nature of this new kind of war, where decisions come too freely to people safely insulated from the consequences of killing.  It’s not an entirely successful film –January Jones is bland as the housewife, some sequences seem out of place, it’s easy to wish that the ending could have been stronger.  But Good Kill is very clever, both with its themes and the way it presents its topic, intentionally contrasting the desert landscape of Las Vegas with those of Afghanistan, the plight of housewives in either places and how even push-button killing takes a toll.  It still feels like a strange quasi-science-fictional idea even though it’s all real, and increasingly pertinent as the United States invests more and more heaviy in drone warfare.  For a writer who also penned Gattaca, S1M0NE and Lord of War, I’d say that this latest film is a pretty good addition to his resume.

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