Movie Review | Good Kill with Ethan Hawke, January Jones, Zoe Kravitz

Good Kill follows an Air Force pilot, Tom Egan, played by Ethan Hawke, in his day-to-day life on duty. Despite how this sentence reads, Good Kill is not an action movie. It is not a war movie. Rather it is a drama of the struggles of one man and the choices he makes on a daily basis as a drone pilot.

It is a very timely and thought-provoking as you hear more and more often in the news about drones becoming part of our daily lives through delivering our packages, filming our weddings or flying too close to commercial aircrafts. This film takes a poignant look at the use of drones in war nowadays and the effect it has on the people that are tasked to drop bombs on people thousands of miles away.

Hawke plays Tom Egan as cold and distant soldier, dutifully serving his country but the solemn fa├žade starts to crack. In the past, Egan served in numerous tours where he was in an actual plane, bombing dots in the distance, but in today’s modern warfare, flying is done from a computer 7,000 miles away from the target but zoomed in so close that you can see the expressions on their faces. The tipping point comes when his crew is assigned to assist the CIA in a special mission that challenges his moral code. His struggle to justify his actions to himself are manifested through the angst he has towards himself and his family.

January Jones plays his long-suffering ex-stripper wife (the setting is the Las Vegas suburbs) but her presence is more of a prop for him to throw around rather than serving any deeper purpose. Her role is mostly symbolic, to represent the loss of his family and his passion.

Most of the more interesting scenes come from Egan's interactions with his fellow crew as they fly missions together in a tiny container in the middle of the desert. Zoe Kravitz plays his co-pilot, Vera Suarez, a smart new recruit who wears her emotions on her sleeve. As the airman and the only female in the crew, she is also often the only one willing to question orders.

It was fascinating to watch through the same lens as the drone, the crosshairs fixed along the dusty terrain, and I found myself being hypnotized by the repetition of the military terminology, "weapons hot", "lasering", "splash", and of course "good kill". Though the drones are primarily responsible for sending missiles spiraling through the air, the film does take care to show that they are also called on to provide cover for troops on the ground.

The film does not attempt to give any answers about whether drone strikes are good or bad, or whether it is effective or not. It simply raises the question about the ethics of drone strikes and it is up to us as the viewer to form our own opinion.
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