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With: Ethan Hawke, January Jones, Bruce Greenwood, Zoe Kravitz, Jake Abel, Ryan Montano, Dylan Kenin, Stafford Douglas, Zion Leyba, Sachie Capitani, Ross Shaw, Colin Jones, Kristen Rakes, Kevin Wiggins, Alma Sisneros, Fatima El Bahraouy, El Khttabi Abdelouahab, Peter Coyote
Written by: Andrew Niccol
Directed by: Andrew Niccol
MPAA Rating: R for violent content including a rape, language, and some sexuality
Running Time: 102
Date: 05/17/2015
IMDB

Good Kill (2015)

2 1/2 Stars (out of 4)

Button Pushers

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

Though Andrew Niccol's Good Kill -- which claims to be based on actual events -- is heavy and preachy, with characters making too many speeches, Ethan Hawke's powerful performance humanizes this incendiary material and gives it an emotional heft. Writer/director Andrew Niccol specializes in movies about humans trapped in mechanized worlds, though he usually achieves a bit more success with a bit of irony infused in the storytelling.

In 2010, U.S. Air Force pilot Major Thomas Egan (Ethan Hawke) is no longer flying, and is now controlling unmanned aerial vehicles (also called "drones") from a safe bunker in Las Vegas. On a daily basis he must deal with the moral ramifications of killing people using a monitor and his damaged ego at performing a job with no risk. A new member of his team (Zoë Kravitz) becomes more disillusioned with their duties, while others believe they are serving their country. Thomas also helplessly drifts away from his children and his wife, Molly (January Jones), and retreats more into drinking and daydreaming. When the chance to help someone comes along, even at the risk of everything else, he must decide whether to take it.

In Good Kill, the irony is all spoken out loud: at least two characters, the seasoned Colonel Jack Johns (Bruce Greenwood) and new recruit Vera Suarez (Zoe Kravitz) seem to be here almost for that purpose alone. Thankfully Hawke digs into a very dark place for his role — his anguish draws real empathy from the viewer — and January Jones matches him as his suffering wife who continually tries to reach him, but who also has a life of her own. Niccol makes expert, thoughtful use of the bunker interiors, crossed with the wide-open spaces of Las Vegas.

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