Jumping close ups between a soldier’s face and a monitor where it’s depicted the modern war against terrorism. Procedures, instructions, target identification and fire! Houses, armed men and civilians blow up without even recognizing the cause of their end. An invisible missile coming from three miles height just hit them, shot from a remote controlled aircraft.
It’s with this approach that Andrew Niccol’s new picture Good Kill opens up. The film is the first attempt to describe on the big screen the contemporary strategies of war applied by the USA army in their quest of fighting the Muslim Terrorism. In explosive theatres like Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan, and even beyond this territory, the war doesn’t require any soldiers or massive weapons. USA military aviation leads the attack from thousands miles away, through the use of drones (remote controlled aircraft, driven from military bases in the USA).
Within this context we dive into Tommy’s life, whose daily routine is characterized by long hours spent in a steel cabin in the middle of an aviation base in Las Vegas. Here Tommy is a drone pilot and everyday he sits in front of a monitor and follows his orders, consisting in flying the drones and attacking individuals that potentially are a risk for the American security. While doing his job, Tommy is crossed by several conflicts like nostalgia for real flight combats, questions of whether this remote controlled warfare is ethical and right, tensions with his wife, who perceives him increasingly distant and careless about her.
…an intriguing analysis of the human and rightful issues involved in this electronic and high technology type of war…
The film explores a powerful topic, and it’s an intriguing analysis of the human and rightful issues involved in this electronic and high technology type of war. The speech that Tommy’s chief has in front of the new recruits is emblematic. Although the pilots are very far from their targets and the link with them is basically not existent, when they pull the trigger they will make explode real people, with families, existences and flesh. The method can look like a Playstation videogame, but the results are extremely raw and effective. Anytime a pilot sits in front of the joystick for a mission, he blasts electronic missiles that give a real and touchable death to their victims.
The initial rhythm is appealing and clever, and gives us a very believable touch of the characters and their conflicts. They appear as tormented, confused and contradictory like real people would be under these circumstances. Nevertheless, after the first 45 minutes, the narrative drops significantly down, sorting out all the matters and the dramatic elements with a banal and yet stereotypical solution. The directing style is often repetitive, lazy and static, showing the electronic sequences of the attacks too many times and using the same optics, eventually missing the most important elements that were planted at the beginning: the characters’ actions, needs and desires and the philosophy behind the drone war.
…A movie with a very original and brave topic, a plot that potentially offered many chances for intelligent critiques and emotional twists…
Good Kill loses its brilliant kick-start and it struggles to find a coherent way between all the narrative lines, reflections and themes to explore, ending up in telling only superficial and primitive deductions that we didn’t need a film to find out about. It’s a pity because the couple Niccol & Ethan Hawke usually has in store something much better than what they’ve produced this time therefore, as a fan, I’m kind of disappointed. A movie with a very original and brave topic, a plot that potentially offered many chances for intelligent critiques and emotional twists, but a result that turns into a predictable blockbuster, surely entertaining, but far from the profound and intense level that was probably meant to reach.