Good Kill [Blu-ray]
Blu-ray B - United Kingdom - Arrow Films
Review written by and copyright: Matthew Crossman (14th July 2015).
The Film

Major Thomas Egan (Ethan Hawke) is a pilot in the United States Air Force. Now, instead of flying F-16 fighter jets, he pilots drones from a Ground Control Station (GCS) in the Nevada desert. Egan misses the feeling of flying and the danger of combat but is extremely skilled and very capable at his job. His job is to pilot the drones and deploy missiles against the Taliban in Afghanistan, or wherever he is required to in the Middle East region. Egan is becoming disillusioned with his work and starts to view his job as no better than the terrorists he targets. He views himself almost as a coward. At times he has to destroy targets that look nothing like terrorists whilst witnessing vile crimes taking place thousands of miles away and he is unable to do anything about it. Egan questions whether the job he is doing is making the World and better or worse place. He becomes distant from his Wife, Molly (January Jones) and starts to drink heavily. Matters come to ahead when the CIA get involved in running the operation and the morality of what Egan is doing becomes even more blurred than it was before.

This is a slick and provocative drama which asks some serious questions of which there are no easy answers. Ethan Hawke as Major Tom Egan is utterly superb throughout. He evokes the internal struggle going on within the characters head with a great nuance and nails the part. Where other people in the movie see him as a hero, he sees himself as a fraud. So much so that when a recurring bit part character actually accuses him of wearing the uniform to pick up women the remark touches a nerve and he reacts violently. Bruce Greenwood plays Eganís superior officer Lt Colonel Jack Johns and serves as the filmís introduction to the World of a war using drones. He too expresses the doubts of the CIA operation but, like a good soldier, he doesnít question his orders. January Jones plays Tomís long suffering Wife Molly. Molly used to be a dance girl in Las Vegas until Tom swept her off her feet, literally, when he took her in a ride of an F-16 fighter jet on their first date. Since then she has had to put up whilst Tom has been away on six tours of duty, and now he is back he seems even more distant than ever.

This is not a film that waves the flag and jingoistically rattles the sabre on behalf of the United States of America. It genuinely asks about the morals of modern warfare and presents both sides of the argument in an adult manner. Consider it a ĎTop Guní for grown ups if you will. Written, produced and directed by Andrew Niccol who does a superb job without over glamorising any element. He keeps the camera still and focuses on the characters and their jobs. He does not glamorise anything about their mission and the only missile we see are as the characters see them, that is to say on a screen in their cabin. There are no loud explosions and more often than not the aftermath of a strike is simply a cloud of dust and debris. The missile strikes are handled in a matter of fact way but this does not dissolve the tension and the count down to impact is announced I found myself holding my breath and counting down the seconds in my head. This is a serious film about serious matters and the superb cast had me believing this is how it is done on a daily basis. Thoroughly enthralling and highly recommended.

Video

Presented in 2.35:1 1080p AVC, it is pristine. From the dusky beiges of the deserts of Nevada, to the similar landscapes of Afghanistan and Yemen to the bright, gaudy lights of the Las Vegas strip the picture shines. The overhead views of Eganís garden, a small strip of bright, green grass, surrounded by sand are crisp and clear as are the light, tonal blues of the workstation where Tom works. I could find not fault with the picture at all.

Audio

The only audio option available was the English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track. The audio presentation is superb. Crisp and clear. This film is mainly dialogue driven with fairly sustained periods of silence but when music is played especially the speakers come alive. Dialogue is very clear, even when softly spoken and the occasion roar of en engine, whether is be from a car or a fighter jet, gets a lovely low rumble from the sub woofer. The disc is enabled with HoH subtitles, which are always a welcome addition.

Extras

Ethan Hawke interview (4:56) - Hawke is interviewed at the Toronto Film Festival and discusses how the line between good guy and bad guy drew him to the project in the first instance and about the morals of the character and the film.

Andrew Niccol interview (6:17) - Niccol is interviewed at the Toronto Film Festival and talks about how he wanted to make a film about the reality of the drone programme, about how drones affect wars, how he made the subject cinematic and how he wants the audience to consider a possible uncomfortable truth about the drone programme and whether both sides could be viewed as terrorists.

Good Kill: Behind The Scenes (15:02) - The behind the scenes documentary is broken into three sections. The first section is about the cast and features interviews with Hawke, Jones, ZoŽ Kravitz, and Bruce Greenwood. The second section is devoted to the Writer/Director Niccol and what drew him to write the film in the first place plus his directorial style. The third section is about the authenticity of the film and how two advisors who used to fly drones were employed by the film to make sure the film was as authentic as possible.

Overall

A superb film that presents the subject matter in an honest way and lets the viewer decide on whether the drone programme is a good thing, a bad thing or something in between. All sides are covered by characters in the film and it was refreshing to watch such an adult take on serious matters. Whilst this may sound quite heavy itís not because the cast, especially Hawke, Jones and Kravitz, give the film a beautiful human touch. Whilst the Americanís flying these drones might not be in any physical danger, the damage being done to their psyche is all too obvious to see. The cast are uniformly terrific with the direction understated and calm allowing the actors to shine and do their thing. Itís a marvellous film which deserves a big audience.

The Film: A+ Video: A+ Audio: A Extras: B Overall: A

 


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