Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Good Kill (2014)

Director: Andrew Niccol
Writer:    Andrew Niccol
Cast:       Ethan Hawke, January Jones, Zoe Kravitz

Major Thomas Egan (Ethan Hawke) is a US Air Force fighter pilot who transitions to UCAV (Drones) duty when demand drops for manned aircraft. As a drone pilot, with limited ability to control collateral damage during airstrikes, Egan becomes disillusioned. He begins to deeply question the morality of his job after his unit begins running missions for CIA.

I don't think you can limit collateral damage if you are flying a mission when compared with drone strikes on an individual mission basis. But the former will happen on a less frequent basis because of the risks involved and thus will reduce the overall collateral damage. The main issue for the protagonist is that he doesn't have any 'Skin in the Game' when he is piloting a drone and he wants to go back into flying combat. He is stationed in Las Vegas and is conducting airstrikes in Afghanistan, Pakistan and Yemen from there. It is another one of those films where you get the feeling that West is playing the victim after being the aggressor. You get the white protagonist who grows a conscience due to the atrocities he is being made to commit and the film is told from his perspective entirely. I am not saying that it is not a relevant subject but that it is a bit disingenuous to make a film ignoring the kind of life that people are having in those places where they can get killed without any warning by a drone that they cannot see. That is especially so when this is one of the first film to be made on the drone strikes program that Obama administration is conducting as part of its never ending 'War on Terror'. To be fair, the film does go into the war-crime aspect of it and other things but they come across as monotonous lectures and a bit awkward in terms of scripting. Tonally it is as if faceless CIA as the villain is making the poor air force guys do bad things. 

Overall, it is a decent watch if you are interested in the very relevant issue of drone strikes from the perspective of the perpetrators. Just that I think it would have been better if they also showed it from the other side as well. Drone pilots having emotional and marital problems might be a real issue for them but it is not the first thing that comes to our mind when we think of drones. It all seems a bit tasteless like the film 'Hurt Locker' was when it came out. At least this one doesn't act as as a propaganda film for US Air Force.

Rating: 2.5/5