Voltage Pictures had a huge hit six years ago with The Hurt Locker. This year they deliver a very different kind of war movie with Good Kill.
Ethan Hawke plays Tommy Egan, an ex fighter pilot who now fights terrorists 7000 miles away as a drone pilot based in Las Vegas. While the bomb diffusers in The Hurt Locker couldn’t be closer to the danger, these drone pilots couldn’t be further away. Good Kill’s conflict comes from Egan’s internal struggles in the first film to really take a close look at this extremely lopsided modern warfare.
When Egan begins having to take orders from the CIA, the already morally murky waters of what they’re doing become further muddied as collateral damage is increased. After doing this all day, Egan is expected to go home to his wife (January Jones) and kids as if he’d just come home from a normal day at work. All of this is excellent fodder for drama, but the film plateaus about halfway through when everything is established and then just kind of, stays established.
The acting is solid all around, with Hawke playing an intense, quieter character than we’re used to seeing him portray, while all the best lines go to his superior officer played by Bruce Greenwood, who knows exactly what to do with them. Even January Jones rises above expectations in what would normally be a thankless role.
The subject matter, the characters, and the set-up are all very promising, but when it comes to putting all of these things into a complete story, writer/ director Andrew Niccol resorts to adding conventional elements to induce audience empathy in the last act.
Read our interview with Ethan Hawke and Andrew Niccol here.