Good Kill is a glimpse into the surreal and complex lives of the men and women who pilot predator drones which the United States has increasingly used to target terrorists and suspected terrorists throughout the world.
Ethan Hawke is Air Force Major Thomas Egan. He lives with his beautiful wife Molly in suburban Los Vegas. It seems like a happy peaceful existence except that every day Egan goes to war. The drones that fly in places like Afghanistan, Iraq and Yemen are flown remotely by Egan and other pilots working from trailers in a Nevada Air Force base.
From the safety of his air conditioned trailer, Egan has fired missiles that have killed hundreds of people over the course of many months. Since the terrorists operate in urban areas, there is often “collateral” damage. That is; peaceful civilians and even children often get killed along with the terrorists.
The dichotomy of Egan’s home and work life takes an ever increasing psychological toll on him. How can he go home and tell his wife that an hour before dinner he killed six terrorists and 3 small boys who happened to be playing soccer near where the terrorists were?
Egan is also an experienced F-16 pilot and has flown many combat missions where his own life was in danger. He feels like a coward piloting a drone where he can never personally be injured, even if the drone happens to crash. The worst part is that the picture quality from the drone is so good that he can see perfectly the faces of the people he is killing.
January Jones is excellent as Egan’s wife Molly. It is a completely different character than we are used to seeing her in The Last Man On Earth. Molly Egan is happy that her husband is safe in Los Vegas instead of flying “real” combat missions where he might get killed. But she can see that the stress is tearing him and their marriage apart.
Good Kill is well written and the special effects with the drone sequences make you feel like you are really in the trailer piloting the deadly device.
The one problem with Good Kill is that there is way too much talk with the various drone pilots discussing the political issues. They spend a lot of time debating all the pros and cons of using drones. This is sort of an insult to the intelligence of the audience. We can see the issues and the possible choices just by watching what the characters do. We don’t need them to continually discuss their points of view. It also takes away from the reality of the film. Anyone who has spent any time around real combat officers knows they stay on topic about the specifics of a mission, and avoid any type of political debates.
However, it is still a great film and one that we recommend.
We rate Good Kill Four Stars ****