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Good Kill - DVD Review

Good Kill

Review by Rob Carnevale

IndieLondon Rating: 3.5 out of 5

The issue of drone warfare is undoubtedly complex and obviously divisive, which is why Good Kill makes for such compelling viewing.

Inspired by actual events and unfolding in 2010, the film offers both a provocative think-piece on the pros and cons of using drones and a riveting character study of the effects it has on the men and women piloting them.
Ethan Hawke, reuniting with writer-director Andrew Niccol for the first time since the excellent Gattaca, plays former fighter pilot turned drone controller Major Thomas Egan, who pines for a proper return to the danger of combat, as opposed to the safety of pressing buttons on a joystick a million miles away.

His war now is as much with his conscience as it is the enemy in Afghanistan and the turmoil places a strain on his marriage. Matters come to a head when Egan’s crew are placed under the charge of the CIA for a series of ethically compromising covert missions.

Niccol’s screenplay may operate using broad strokes but it poses some relevant questions on both sides of the debate. How do you fight a terrorist who is prepared to use women and children as human shields without making tough decisions? What now constitutes a war crime? And what if taking the moral high ground ultimately costs the lives of many more innocent people? Perhaps most pertinent, however, is the question of whether a war like this can ever be won?

In many ways, Good Kill is brave in the way that it tosses such a hot potato around and therefore deserves a lot of credit for daring to do so.

It’s just a shame that some elements feel heavy-handed and lack the necessary shading, particularly in it’s depiction of the CIA. An ending that offers up some kind of personal redemption for Hawke’s character also feels slightly out of keeping with the harsh realities of what has come before and is undoubtedly an attempt at audience pleasing.

But given the relevance of the topics and the high level of intelligence exhibited in a lot of other areas of the script, not to mention the quality performances of Hawke, Bruce Greenwood (as his commanding officer) and January Jones (as his wife), Good Kill is definitely worth putting on your radar.

It’s not always easy to watch, especially in it’s eerily depiction of drone strikes, but it will leave you debating for some time afterwards.

Certificate: 15
Running time: 102mins
UK Blu-ray & DVD Release: August 3, 2015