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Film Review: Good Kill

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Title: Good Kill

Director: Andrew Niccol

Writers: Andrew Niccol

Stars: Ethan Hawke, January Jones, Bruce Greenwood, Zoe Kravitz

Release Date: In cinemas now

Review by Dave Griffiths

Sometimes you have to wonder what goes on with a film’s publicity machine. Despite an excellent reception at the Venice Film Festival Good Kill gets a release in Australia with virtually no publicity. Maybe it’s because it stars Hollywood’s forgotten man Ethan Hawke, or is directed by Andrew Niccol whose last film, The Host, was a massive flop or maybe it’s because this is one of the most anti-American films you are ever like to see, but for some reason this film has been kept right off the radar.

Good Kill centers around Major Thomas Egan (Ethan Hawke – Training Day) an experienced fighter pilot who due to the Air Force’s different approach to way now finds himself behind the controls of a drone 7,000 miles away from the action of Afghanistan. Yes the one time decorated pilot looks like he is playing X-Box in a cargo container in Las Vegas. While the change of role is already causing him issues (including becoming an alcoholic) that are affecting his marriage to his wife, Molly (January Jones – Mad Men) he soon finds himself in a worse position when the C.I.A. orders him and his boss, Lt. Colonel Jack Johns (Bruce Greenwood – Star Trek), to have a new parameter around bombing raids which more often than not results in the death of innocents.

Normally when you think of a movie set in the Air Force a movie with all the thrills and excitement of Top Gun come to mind. Andrew Niccol’s Good Kill is as far removed from that as possible though. Good Kill sees America’s war effort in Afghanistan challenged in a way that very few films have or would even dare to. It graphically shows how the task of murdering the supposed ‘guilty’ take such a heavy toll on those tasked to carry out the orders even they are a world away from the frontline.

Niccol’s screenplay delivers brilliant performances from Ethan Hawke and Bruce Greenwood, the latter who manages to steal the show a number of times with his portrayal of a man willing to tow the company line even though it is starting to touch on his morals. Also steeping up to the plate here is Zoe Kravitz (Mad Max: Fury Road) whose rookie airman character is the voice of everybody’s reason.

Good Kill is not for those don’t like a move to make them think. Niccol treats the U.S. war effort with a harshness that is mirrored in the shots of the Vegas desert his character’s call home. A must see film.

4.5 stars

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