A movie without a climax …
Much like the drones presented in the movie, Good Kill takes off flight with an impressive explosion, yet after an hour or so, the storyline just … hangs there! It flows in the air and it keeps feeding us the same information and situations that we’ve encountered before. If you know that more than half the movie is spent in an eight by eight bunker holding no less than five people, then you know this war movie is probably the least spectacular war movie to date …
That being said, Good Kill has its strong elements. First and foremost, it’s a movie that gives us an insight in the future of warfare. As one character clearly explains: ‘Drones aren’t going anywhere. They are going everywhere.’, the use of drones in a war against terrorism does not only save innocent lives, it keeps soldiers safe at home close to their family. And within that lies the true dilemma. How can a soldier face himself in the mirror if he doesn’t even face his enemy on the battlefield?
It’s this particular question that drives the story. Lead actor Ethan Hawke plays the part of Tom Egan who was once a happy fighter pilot. Now he’s a depressing man grounded for life, spending his remaining army days in a stuffed bunker, flying drones as if they were in fact a first-person-shooter videogame. He starts to question himself, becomes aggravated with his life’s choices and unknowingly takes it out on his wife, played by the loveable January Jones.
What’s interesting about the movie’s plot is that it focuses a great deal on the inner struggle of the main character. Blowing up a building or a group of six people standing in a circle with automatic weapons from 3000 feet up in the air isn’t the same thing anymore as actually being there and feeling the thrill of the moment. As January Jones asks her husband in a moment of desperation: ‘What is it that you miss?’
Which is why, if this movie only lasted half as long, it would’ve been twice as good. The main problem is that the movie never reaches a high. There is no climax, no point to all of this. The story just … hangs in the air like so many drones used in the movie. Basically, all you see is how soldiers use drones to kill terrorists or would-be terrorists …
But there is good stuff too! The set-up of the movie is very nicely done and the storyline addresses some important issues on the art of war and how warfare at this very moment in the year 2015 is changing forever. Instead of drones of soldiers you know have but one drone who never misses.
Of course there is the most important issue of all. The dehumanization of a piece of machinery taking over or, in other words, the lack of human interference. A few times the deadly accuracy of a drone will become the pinnacle of a debate as to whether drones are actually ending wars rather than creating more terrorists.
Especially when you consider the level of expendablism of innocent people and unlucky children nearby …
Alongside the not-so-happy couple we see a couple of familiar faces, most notably Bruce Greenwood who spews one classic one-liner after the other. In fact, every time he opens his mouth you’ll hear some cool quote. At first it’s kinda cool, but after a while it reduces his own level of character depth and you’ll wonder if Bruce Greenwood himself is not some sort of a drone-robot. He is just cool but without the necessary emotions or human-like baggage that comes with being a superior in these troubled times. Don’t get me wrong, Bruce Greenwood does a fine job. It’s just that his character is nothing more than a couple of fancy statements …
The other woman playing a major part also happens to be an ex-X-men, much like January Jones (watch the movie X-Men: First Class if you don’t know what the heck this means). Is that even accurate? An ex-X-men … like former X-men … aah, whatever!
Zoë Kravitz comes later on board, but when she does she rocks things around a little. And boy, it helps furthering the storyline which, at that moment, needed some serious dusting off. She is a fresh and fun character who, although equally troubled by what she sees in front of her, is basically the only one who dares to step up and question the authorities. It makes her so interesting it’s a damn shame her part is still somewhat reduced, when you think about it.
For the real movie buffs, here’s a little riddle. Who is the voice on the other end of the line? The CIA-agent who steps in (but not physically as he’s not really there) and takes temporary control of the bunker. Click here if you wish to find out … he’s had a couple of famous movies.
Give it to me straight:
Good kill sends a macabre message picturing the future of warfare in the fight against terrorism. More than most war movies made in America, this is actually one of the most realistic ones as it deals with issues that are present in times like today.
What if all soldiers on the ground are replaced by drones flying up in the air? What would that mean for the future of mankind?
Important issues are brought up in the movie and even more important questions are asked. More than anything, Good kill wants to be the first movie out there to publicly announce the change in waging modern warfare (although 24: Season 6 still holds the record for the coolest drone action scene ever filmed).
Lead actor Ethan Hawke gets away with a fairly decent acting performance as the tormented soldier who’s supposed to love his wife and kids, but all he can think of is how he is ashamed of not being a fighter pilot anymore + the cowardliness of his actions in that he doesn’t strike his enemies down face-to-face.
Standing by his side looking to help but not quite sure how is actress January Jones. She is in fact the very one who carries the movie acting-wise.
Bruce Greenwood tries his best, but his character comes across as wooden due to some one-dimensional writing (so he’s not to be blamed) and the pretty Zoë Kravitz becomes the voice of self-awareness in a war where everyone seems to fly on automatic pilot …
Give it to me short:
Good kill is an important movie that addresses the right issues on the use of drones in the air in the war on terrorism, but from a cinematographic point-of-view, it’s a bit of a letdown. The movie flies off a great start, but forgets to actually tell a story. Like the soldiers in the movie flying the drones, you see many things in this movie … but feel oh-so little!