A former fighter pilot tries to adjust to his new life at the controls of a drone operating remotely from Las Vegas.
There’s no doubting writer/director Andrew Niccol is a talented man. Still best known for penning the screenplay for Peter Weir’s 1998 hit The Truman Show he had impressed a year earlier with as the writer and director of low key sci-fi Gattaca.
Since then he’s worked on the likes of the nutty Lord of War and the adaptation of The Host for the big screen and even his biggest duds – like 2011’s In Time – at least had some interesting sci-fi concepts to throw our way.
For Good Kill, the filmmaker reconnects with his Gattaca star Ethan Hawke for a film that couldn’t be more timely, dealing as it does with the nature of drone warfare, specifically the emotional and psychological cost to the pilots who can blow up a group of terrorists in the morning and be back at home with their kids for lunch.
It’s a new take on the common theme of soldiers attempting to reconnect with a society where deadly violence is a last resort rather than a way of life, and there are terrifying implications to the clashing of those two worlds.
Hawke with his increasingly grizzled features is perfectly cast and there’s a slow fizzle to showing the cracks beneath his calm façade. That’s all handled more than competently, showing his relationship with his wife (an underdeveloped January Jones) and others on the base, including Zoe Kravitz and a very unconventional Colonel played by Bruce Greenwood.
Then the film pretty much stops, without ever reaching a satisfying crescendo or emotional payoff. It feels like Niccol has an idea of how to set up his story but little idea of where to end it, instead meandering feebly until the 104 minute running time is over.
Drone warfare is a hot topic but Good Kill doesn’t have enough meat on its bones to have anything significant to say. Hawke is watchable as ever and there are some stylish moments but you can otherwise file this under forgettable.