Good Kill (2014)
An American war film that looks at a very different aspect of modern warfare. Air Force drone pilots, operating lethal killer-drones over Afghanistan and other countries, from a remote base near Las Vegas. Recruited as much for their skill at playing video games, as for their ability to fly jets, these young servicemen and women sit in steel cabins, delivering death on demand at the behest of the CIA, or High Command.
Major Tom Egan has flown many combat tours, and proved his skill in the air. But now his beloved jets are in mothballs, as the Air Force concentrates on a new kind of war. The silent unseen drones, picking off targets at will, from 10,000 feet above an enemy that has no idea what is about to happen. He is unhappy, disillusioned, drinking too much. Although he can return to his modern house near the city every day after work, home to his pretty wife and two children, he misses ‘the fear’, the unexpected, and the feeling of being in control, up in his jet fighter.
He has a Mexican-American female partner; new to the job, she is also uneasy about they way the war is being fought, the disregard for civilian casualties, and the shady tasks carried out for the Security Services. The base commander is an old friend, Colonel Jack Johns. He is a realist. War is changing, and the way the Air Force operates is changing with it. He sympathises with Tom, but he knows that orders are orders, and they must be followed. As the missions increase in intensity, Tom’s home life spirals out of control, along with his drinking, and bleak moods.
This is a surprisingly powerful film, with an excellent cast. I must be going soft in my old age, as I am starting to believe that Ethan Hawke is a very good actor. He brings some light and shade to the character of Tom, and is convincing in his quiet withdrawal too. Bruce Greenwood is outstanding as the conflicted commander, Colonel Johns, and an unseen Peter Coyote gives a chilling turn as the voice of the CIA, heard only on a speakerphone. When they are operating the drones, the satellite footage is never less than authentic in feel, with real tension in every scene. The debates about the morality of what they are doing are not overblown, and those arguments countered by other characters who think that they are doing something necessary, and worthwhile.
I really liked this film, and highly recommend it. Here’s a trailer.