Sober and thought provoking, “Good Kill” doesn’t stretch its talented cast’s acting limits, but does make us question the moralities of modern warfare.
Opening with the note that it’s “based on actual events”, writer/director Andrew Niccol’s latest film “Good Kill” tells the story of American Soldiers based in Nevada who are killing suspected Taliban members on the other side of the Earth via high tech drones. If you aren’t familiar with Andrew Niccol’s name, you are surely familiar with some of his other thought provoking films: “Gattaca”, “The Truman Show”, and “Lord of War.” Once again, he has created characters that face challenges and dilemmas that are on the edges of sci-fi, but still morally relevant.
Led by the wise Lt. Colonel Jack Johns (Bruce Greenwood), Major Thoma Egan (Ethan Hawke) and Ariman Vera Suarez (Zoë Kravitz) spend 12+ hour days locked inside converted storage containers, flying armed drones over the middle east, picking off targets as they see fit. While at first there are specific rules of engagement in place, eventually their team falls under CIA control. At this point they become little more than contracted assassins, dealing out death based on numbers and probability, regardless of the civilian collateral. While Egan has no problem with warfare and killing the enemy, this particular form of fighting goes against his ethics and puts additional pressure on his already crumbling marriage.
Warfare and Technology have always walked through time hand in hand. But with each advancement, warfare has become more “detached” and in a way, more cruel. In the early, blood soaked, brutal days of war, men were physically accountable for taking another’s life. With flung stones, or hand forged swords, they were intimately responsible for one another deaths. Brutal as this was, in a way, it may have been better. Now, bureaucrats can order executions from thousands of miles away, and death be dealt at the push of a button. While it’s true, it helps to keep many of our american soldiers out of physical harm’s way, what is it doing to them on an individual basis? What about the morality of our country as a whole?
While based on facts and various true events, this is a fictional film, about fictional people, and it is a bit contrived at times. While you may or may not agree with the political leanings of the film, it will tease your mind with some strong ideas. One sign of any good film is how long it lingers in mind afterward. This one is sure to incite some interesting conversations afterwards.