Overall Grade: (B)
A gripping military drama with a strong message that gets you thinking more than you would expect.
An Air Force pilot grounded and placed behind a computer controlling drone strikes from thousands of miles away begins to deal with the ethics of his work and soon questions his role in the service.
Ethan Hawke has a long resume filled with great character performances and this film was no different. “Good Kill” is a deep look at a new aspect of war that has really not been examined. The story delves into the concept that, while technology has advanced to the point soldiers can fight a war from a seat behind a computer screen, and lives can be saved, there is still a psychological trauma that can result.
This story shows how a man who was once at home in the air flying for his country in many dangerous situations, has been relegated to a desk job, executing drone strikes from his chair. Hawke’s performance was excellent and he captured the range of emotions of a man who was conflicted with the role his work had taken. He felt like a coward, and soon guilt becomes thick inside him and it doesn’t take long for the emotional stress to seep into his family life.
Another great thing about this story-line was the different angles the situation could be looked at and how, even on the same team of soldiers controlling the drone from a trailer out on a military base, that the opinions of what they were doing varied greatly. It wasn’t long in to this film that I found myself completely riveted to the subject, the characters involved and my own opinions on what they were doing. Hawke felt every bit of the role he played, and his inner conflict was compelling to watch. There where scenes showing how his character drank and went about his daily schedule as if he were in a daze of his own conflict, and how he distanced himself from his family and normal life were all intriguing to take in.
The rest of the cast was equally as excellent as Hawke. Zoë Kravitz, January Jones and Bruce Greenwood all came in with great performances. Jones was perfect for the role of the wife struggling to deal with her husbands emotional absence. She captured all the frustrations, moments of fighting for her marriage and the torment of whether to keep fighting for her families unity.
Greenwood was also enjoyable, his performance at times served as a narrative for the theme of the film and the present day of war not to mention his own inner conflict over the orders the were receiving and his beliefs on of their actions, and subsequent justification. Kravitz also delivered one of her best performances and excellently conveyed the young solider who stepped into a division she was not mentally prepared for and her own inner turmoil over he job in the military.
I did not know what to expect from this one, whether it would be a superficial look at a theme of war to boast some explosions and special-effects, or a story-line filled with thought provoking scenarios and topics with strong character acting. Much to my surprise and delight is was much closer to the latter.
The script was well written and had a nice balance of war scenarios, the emotional stress on the characters, the grumblings between fellow soldiers and the effects on family. When I started this film I was expecting to sit back and turn the brain off for a while to take in a film and what resulted was a rather complex look into a topic that has been to this point relatively untold.
Ten-minutes into “Good Kill” the story-line had my full attention and the characters had me fully engaged. The intrigue was high throughout and did not let up until the credits rolled. Never did the script force anything or lose its direction and in the end it was a greatly informative and eye-opening look into a new aspect of current day war. Ethan Hawke and the rest of the cast were perfect for this film and overall it is definitely worth a watch.