The War At Home: A Review of ‘Good Kill’

Posted in Movies, Theatrical by - May 14, 2015
The War At Home: A Review of ‘Good Kill’

Plain and simple, the freedom’s we enjoy in this part of the world are rarely if ever free, but they can come at the kind of costs that we never genuinely expect.  Good Kill is an understated but effective drama  as we see the consequences of war come home in ways that we as a society are still learning to deal with.

He’s living the American dream, Major Thomas Egan (Ethan Hawke) is flying over a war zone doing right by his country…and he still gets to go home to his wife every night?  He’s flying drones that take out targets in Iraq and Afghanistan, but gets to BBQ and party on the Las Vegas Strip whenever he pleases.  It’s a dream to some, but for him it is an absolute nightmare as he grapples with the ethics of what he does every day while never putting his own life on the line for his country.  For a career solider like Egan with a clear sense of right and wrong, the shades of grey that he is now asked to exist in are just too much for him to handle as his professional and personal life begin to crumble.

It’s by no means a perfect movie, but in Good Kill both Andrew Niccol in the director’s chair reunite to give us a unique and complex character study at the ever evolving face of war and what it is doing to some of the men who are knee deep in it.

Good Kill

Niccol tackles this rather big idea and comes at it in an almost quiet and understated fashion as we dive into the psyche of this solider who is slowly but surely being robbed of the one thing that gives him purpose and a motivation to fight.  He takes us into the human toll that it takes on these men, and rather then hit us over the head with any grand ideals of visual metaphors he locks us in these non-descript metal containers in the middle of the desert where these events are playing out.  The film takes great care, to not only shine a light on some things that are occurring with the drone strikes and the unnecessary casualties that they are racking up, but the good things to with something just as simple as a drone pilot being able to make sure that a squad on patrol can get some sleep without having to worry about any imminent danger.  It’s not a preachy or political statement, he has been very careful to stay away from that kind of thing ,it is a movie about understanding the horrors and toil that war can inflict upon a man, even when he doesn’t go anywhere.  A truly fascinating character study that hinges on the fragile zeal of a warrior who has lost his purpose.

Continuing the kind of role that Matthew McConaughey would quietly appreciate and be envious of, Ethan Hawke truly steps into the fragile heart and mind of this man.  He is outwardly a hero, an image he got to uphold every time that he went overseas to serve his country, but now wasting away on the strip he feels like a shell of his former self.  Unable to come to grips with how modern warfare is evolving he is slowly dying, not being able to get behind the controls of an actual airplane.  Hawke tracks his decent in a quiet yet truly powerful manner that almost carries the film in and of itself, he was so subtly electric that it sneaks up on you.

GoodKill Despite his stellar work, the support players just didn’t give him enough to work with as January Jones as his wife certainly has the look to play the idyllic prom queen wife but was a little too rigid to resonate and never sold any emotional investment in anything that was going on.  Bruce Greenwood was his stalwart self as his commanding officer and Zoe Kravitz managed to shine as a mirror to Egan’s increasingly conflicted nature about his role in the army.  Had the rest of the characters been a little more fleshed out it would have only augmented what was a stellar leading man turn by Ethan Hawke.

Ultimately, Good Kill is the kind of movie that may not hit you with a dramatic wallop, but it has more than enough fascinating subtext that will keep you thinking long after the film is done.

This post was written by
David Voigt, has been a lover of cinema all his life and an actual underpaid critic for a solid 5 years covering everything that the city of Toronto has to offer. He was a content manager in video distribution industry before that and his love of all things cinema goes back to his first moments in awe looking up at the big screen. His 12 years of experience on the home entertainment side of the business have provided him with a unique view on what is worth spending your hard earned entertainment dollars on. Combine that with his unquestioned love of film, David should be your only stop to find out about the best in film, not only in Toronto, but worldwide.