Thursday, May 28, 2015

[Review] Good Kill

Considering the powerhouse that was American Sniper, you can't help but think Good Kill--following that film up within the same year, sort of got pushed over to the side into a limited & VOD release. But if the subject matter falls into your interests, this film shouldn't be skipped, as it contains a great performance from Ethan Hawke and an interesting spin on the 2010s war on terror film.

Tom Egan (Ethan Hawke) is a veteran Air Force pilot. But now he's been placed in special operations, engaging in targeted drone killings, and he's having a difficult time with it. It's not long before he has to take direct orders from the CIA, where he's forced to pull the trigger in situations against his best judgement. His morals are compromised (innocent women & children are in the victim zone), his nerves are rattled, and his marriage with his wife (played by Mad Men's January Jones) and family life is crumbling at the home base.

Good Kill is a slower burn than American Sniper, and doesn't contain the hugely intense, Clint Eastwood-directed battles, but in a similarly heavy manner it explores the toll of war through the eyes of a weary and overstressed soldier. Ethan Hawke conveys this sense with careful skill, especially with his deep, hollow eyes constantly on display. The rising star Zoe Kravitz adds a solid key supporting role, as her and Hawke's characters are the only two in their unit that find what they're doing troubling, and they grapple with the lines of what it means to be a "terrorist."

It's a tough, complex, and thought-provoking film, and like many of its type, it's unable to offer up any easy answers or reconciliations. And its power comes from within those very conflicts.


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