Thursday 23 April 2015

Good Kill ... Droning on

GOOD Kill is about the US' use of unmanned flying vehicles (drones) to dispose of its enemies in
Pakistan, Afghanistan and Yemen. It's set in 2010, when the CIA steps into the picture and increases the use of drones to kill practically anyone whom it thinks is a threat to the US.
   Writer, director and producer Andrew Niccol definitely has strong ideas about this contraption flying 10,000 feet above and unseen by the naked eye.

   Niccol, who directed Ethan Hawke in sci-fi flick Gattaca (1997), now uses the latter as a brooding and sensitive ex-jet fighter pilot who mans drones in Las Vegas; he's the one who arms the drone just before it unloads its deadly cargo.
   Niccol rehashes a lot of arguments for and against the use of drones to repress an enemy thousands of kilometres away. What makes the film more tedious is when it digresses into a marital strife plot.
    Since this film is about drones, there are lots of TV monitors showing the point of view of drones as they circle their prey. It's easy to distance yourself from these killings so far away, which is a point stressed by  Lt-Col Jack Johns (a firm and sympathetic Bruce Greenwood) to new recruits.
   Major Tom Egan (Hawke) misses the excitement of being an F-16 pilot and his sullenness is transferred from work to his family, with his wife Molly (Mad Men's January Jones) getting the brunt of it.
   Tom is shown to be a kind man who is revolted at the sight of unleashing terror on Taliban fighters and their families. He is supported in this gesture by his lovely colleague Vera Suarez (Insurgent's Zoe Kravitz).
   Tom and Vera will act as the film's conscience, with Vera fighting a hard battle against two male colleagues who are all for blasting the fighters and everyone in their vicinity to kingdom come.
  I didn't find the arguments particularly interesting because viewers will have heard of them in other films, especially those covering renditions.
   The reason for Tom's depression is rather insipid. He's feeling down in the dumps because he can't fly jets and also because he baulks at the thought of killing civilians, or collateral damage. But wouldn't he have had to do the same thing if he were flying jet fighters?
   Tom's family life drags the film down. This part feels contrived and unnatural, probably because viewers would have seen these scenes in other films: the family barbecue, the wife complaining about the husband's withdrawal, the husband suspecting the wife of having an affair, the inevitable fight, and the wife packing her bags.

1 1/2 out of 5 stars


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