Andrew Niccol made a splash with his debut directorial film Gattaca remains one of the most inventive and beautiful Science Fiction films of the ’90s. He also wrote The Truman Show which was changed drastically from his darker original screenplay which was more in vain of Philip K. Dick’s work. He also directed the fascinating if ultimately disappointing S1m0ne and the fantastic Lord of War. His latest films In Time and The Host have been massive disappointments so he has went back to making the smaller Good Kill.
Ethan Hawke who has worked with Niccol on Gattaca and Lord of War plays the morally conflicted drone pilot Major Thomas Egan stationed in Las Vegas in Good Kill. Hawke performance is a nuanced portrayal of a man with anger boiling underneath despite a brave face, the key line is when a friend asks his wife “He’s quiet – what does he do when he gets angry?” and she replies with “He gets more quiet”. Hawke has had an extraordinary run recently and this just proves he is one of best actors of his generation. The supporting cast with January Jones, Zoë Kravitz and Bruce Greenwood give strong supporting roles
The film obviously is timely given the US use of drones in oversea wars and now domestically. It deals with the effect of distancing effect of modern warfare technology and the subplot of rape victim in a middle eastern village is a bit clichéd. The politics are certainly of a liberal bent and it deals with the fact many of the drone pilots were recruited because they were gamers.
Overall Good Kill is an interesting timely film but suffers from being overly earnest for its own good. It has an air of almost claustrophobic science fiction in its drone scenes but the scenes at Egan’s home almost suffer from an almost televisual look. Niccol remains one of the most intriguing directors of the last 20 years and Good Kill is a partial return to form and his next directorial effort seems to be a Salvador Dali biopic which should be interesting to say the least.
Drama, Thriller | USA, 2014 | 15 | Arrow Films | 3rd August 2015 (UK) | Dir. Andrew Niccol | Ethan Hawke, January Jones, Zoë Kravitz, Bruce Greenwood, Jake Abel | Buy: Good Kill [Blu-ray]