Saturday, August 8, 2015

Film Review: Good Kill (2014)

Copyright: IFC Films
A long time ago (speaking in video game industry terms) Ron Perlman declared in the opening segment of the Fallout franchise - war, war never changes. While the same might be true in a metaphysical sense, in a purely practical one, war definitely changes. 100 years ago, people still expected to charge the opposing forces using cavalry with real horses and real sabers (once such charge even took place in 1939 when the Polish forces carried this out in desperation). Today, however, people in the Western nations, especially the US, exchanged animals for a much more potent combat sidekick – robots.

Good Kill is about these killing machines, but it’s even more about a deep-rooted longing and ways how people get either lost in it or find a way out of it. The movie follows Ethan Hawke as Major Thomas Egan, a US pilot who was forced to exchange his F16 for a Predator drone.

Even though he is no longer deployed overseas, but does all his killing from an air-conditioned unit on an airfield near Las Vegas, Egan still feels as if a big chunk of him was ripped out when he was “grounded”.

While the days go by and Egan and his team plant hellfire seeds of death and destruction all over the world, he sinks into a dark place where all purpose is lost and ideals that were shaky at best become nonexistent. As Egan brilliantly puts it to his commanding officer, why are all the teams even wearing their flight suit when they are simply sitting in front of computers and pressing buttons.

Good Kill was directed and written by Andrew Niccol, whose interesting vision still continues to produce unusual movies which might not be grabbing as the run-of-the-mill AAA war-related production, but instead open personal questions. Like his old film Lord of War, Niccol seems really grounded in reality, no matter how gritty or unflattering it might be. Here, his cast supports the same vision really effectively, especially through Hawke and Zoë Kravitz, playing a young newcomer in the world of drone warriors.

As the real skies above places like Pakistan become more saturated with actual Predator drones, it is good to have films like Good Kill. They dare to try to make some sense of the rise of the killing machines, even if the answers are not geopolitical but instead takes place in a single man’s broken heart.