Review of "Good Kill (DVD)"

published 30/11/2016 | thedevilinme
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Pro Something to think about
Cons Bit slow
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"'This guy must have been a pilot before Ponches!'"

Good Kill (DVD)

Good Kill (DVD)

Star – Ethan Hawke
Genre – War > Drama
Run Time – 100 minutes
Certificate – 18
Country – USA
Awards – 1 Nomination
Amazon – £3.00 DVD £3.99Blue Ray
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Whatever you think about 911 ‘The War on Terror’ has been just as disgusting. The obliteration of a near defenseless Iraq because Saddam had outlived his value to the West by not selling enough oil (and so not buying Western weapons with the proceeds) has been cynically ignored by the media, and the war was probably the hate that triggered Brexit and President Trump, no doubt. The war opened the door to mass immigration to Europe and we just don’t want it and that xenophobia will bring down the EU, Italy close to their referendum now. Bush & Blair have a lot to answer for. Now we fight our wars like cowards, drones at 10,000 feet, firing in Hellfire missiles at wedding parties and traffic jams that may or may not have terrorist’s combatants present, the trigger pressed in sunny Florida and Nevada. Women and children are often present and blown to smithereens in these hits. Good Kill and Ethan Hawke attempts to address that moral question, the third time Hawke and director Andrew Niccol have worked together, the first time being in the intriguing Gattaca (1997).


Ethan Hawke ... Major Thomas Egan
Bruce Greenwood ... Lt. Colonel Jack Johns
Jake Abel ... M.I.C. Joseph Zimmer
Ryan Montano ... Airman Roy Carlos
Dylan Kenin ... Capt. Ed Christie
Fatima El Bahraquy ... The Woman
El Khttabi Abdelouahab ... The Boy
Stafford Douglas ... Billy
Zion Rain Leyba ... Travis Egan
January Jones ... Molly Egan
Sachie Capitani ... Jesse Egan
Michael Sheets ... Danny
Zoë Kravitz ... Airman Vera Suarez
Ross Shaw Ross Shaw ...
Lt. Drier
Chakir Faiz Chakir Faiz


Major Thomas Egan, a grounded F16 pilot and six tour veteran, has been posted to a USAF drone base just outside of Las Vegas, Nevada. His with two young children and hot wife (January Jones) live off-base in manicured new build suburbia and they seem to have a decent life. His current assignment involves flying armed MQ-9 Reaper drones in foreign air space in support of the U.S. War on Terror, his work place a big metal box on the base, 8 of them innocuously lined up on the base. This is his airspace now.

He is respected by his commanding officer and support staff for his calm demeanor, precise flying, and adaptability to any situation. Although not risking his life in those fast jets he does get to kill people, pinging in Hellfire missiles on his designated targets, the order given to pull the trigger by his superior officer, Lt. Colonel Jack Johns (Bruce Greenwood), an old school type just doing his job.

Privately, Egan is stressed about the job, which he took after being informed the air force were cutting pilots and moving towards drone missions instead. His previous CO informed him that a tour flying unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) would look great on his record and would increase his chances of being posted back to a flying assignment.

On the job and Egan confines to his fellow drone specialist, Airman Vera Suarez (Zoë Kravitz), that he feels a coward using fire and forget missiles from the safety of the Nevada desert. He simply misses the fear of combat, ‘no skin in the game’, as he calls it, and no amount of booze, his beautiful trophy wife and driving his classic muscle car in the open desert can never really replace that buzz.

The pressure ramps up when they are ordered to take occasional jobs from the CIA, which also have targets to be hit around the world, not only Afghanistan and Iraq but the Yemen and Somalia on their list. At first, the new assignment seems stressful but relatively benign. He is assigned to attack more clear-cut terrorist cells, vehicles, and facilities in Afghanistan, but now without clear intelligence the ne targets are still deemed ‘potential terrorists’ and showing a ‘pattern of behavior’’, cognitive strikes ,and on a need to know basis and way off the record. The team is soon questioning themselves and actions and just how legal this all is. Firing in a second missile as the locals try to rescue people is not what they signed up for.


Well, Good Kill is OK. It just not cutting enough for me and not the more critical film on the T.W.A.T (The War Against Terrorism) I had hoped for. Director Niccol leaves it up to the viewer to decide who is right and who is wrong in this very modern warfare with his film. To be fair it is at least scripted with both arguments present. The deal in American war movies is Hollywood get free use of real US Military bases and kit, if they portray the US Military in a ‘positive light’. This one feels restricted that way as the various drone operators argue the morals of what they are doing in a mostly bias pro American foreign policy angle, justifying the sneaky drone attacks as no worse than IEDs. In away they are right but it was only soldiers blown up with IEDs in Afghanistan I recall. These drones fire missiles into people bedroom windows that may or may not be terrorists.

The film is potent enough but the acting is a tad clunky as the film becomes all about Ethan Hawke’s emancipated hero in the 30ft long bomb proof cabin than the actual Deed. The special effects on the operators screens as the Hellfire’s ping into grainy dwellings and four-wheel-drives are impressive and tension packed as you cut back to the operators saying ‘job done’ and go for a T-Break as the wreckage and bodies smolder, the distance between them and the target mentally as large as the physical miles. There is something very perverse about the ability to fire a missile from a drone 10,000 feet above a war zone whilst you are 5 kilometers from the Las Vegas Strip.

Niccol is one of the best film screenplay writers and for a man who penned The Trueman Show, Gattaca and Lord of War, a pretty tasty hatrick, and so you would have expected a little more here in originality and impact. It doesn’t hit your conscious hard enough like those Hellfire’s do a packed Kabul market. It needed to. The Truman Show is just a breathtakingly clever and bold movie whereas Good Kill blunts the sharp ends. The clunky Charlie’s Angels style chat with the CIA over the intercom and Bruce Greenwood’s Lt. Colonel Jack Johns constant barrage of cheesy top Gun lines. Is a very good example of the detail and reality fluffed over here? But Hawke is as excellent as ever, of course, and keeps you interested for the 100 minute run time.

Critics didn’t really go big on Good Kill and nor did the film festivals, only Vienna taking notice with one nomination. The Imdb ratings are also weak and I think that’s because everyone understands the director copped out here and so in the process held the cast back in delivering much stronger performances and so movie. It’s also a rather slow movie and more drama than war film and so don’t expect lots of explosions and warplanes. In fact the film is very sober in its tone and some may even get bored of it.

Its not terrible and always keeps you interested on the detail of how the drone operation works but it refuses to hold anyone too account, and that’s what the film needed for me. Although I haven’t seen Eye in the Sky with Helen Mirren I’m guessing that’s the film this should have been. Goof Kill is worth a look if you want to have an opinion on drone attacks and it contains lots of things to think about. But its no Lord of War.

RATINGS – 6.4/10.0 (votes) – 75% critic’s approval – 63% critic’s approval

Special Features


Ethan Hawke talking head interview about the film and its morals. Hawke is quite intense and took the movie because of the issues. Andrew Niccol is also interviewed.
Behind the Scenes

Reasonably interesting stuff as we meet the real drone guys and Hawke openly questions Americas War on Terror.


Washington Post –‘For the most part, "Good Kill" asks pertinent, enduring questions, not by way of polemic, but through the study of a character whose professionalism and competence are given full respect, even when they're challenged by the mission at hand’.

The Mail -‘You know when you see a movie, and you don't hate it, but you don't love it, either?

The Independent –‘This isn't science fiction-it claims to be "based on actual events"-but it feels like it, with its sealed, space capsule-like remote cockpits and disconnection from the field of battle;.

The NY Post –‘A heart-rending drama about drone warfare that proves there never has been, and there never will, be "a good kill."

Chicago Sun Times –‘But the visuals pack a visceral punch. Every time Tom zeroes in on a target, every time he pushes that button, what we see on those monitors is brutally authentic’
Movie Talk –‘The anguish etched on Hawke's face reveals the psychological toll of blowing up flesh and blood, not pixels’.

The Times –‘This thoughtful drama presents real and legitimate questions about drone strikes and smartly lets the audience make their own decisions on these issues’.


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Comments on this review

  • WilliamWillis published 26/12/2016
    Thorough review
  • IzzyS published 17/12/2016
    Thorough review.
  • MrsWilkes published 15/12/2016
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Product Information : Good Kill (DVD)

Manufacturer's product description

Product Details

DVD Region: DVD

EAN: 5027035012643

Actor(s): Ethan Hawke, January Jones, Zoë Kravitz, Bruce Greenwood, Jake Abel

Classification: 15 years and over

Production Year: 2011

Director(s): Andrew Niccol

Video Category: Feature Film


Listed on Ciao since: 22/11/2016