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Good Kill (2015)
Paramount Home Entertainment
Blu-ray Disc Released: 9/1/2015
All Ratings out of
Review by Mike Long, Posted on 9/1/2015
Is there anything worse than an "And?" movie? Unless something goes terribly wrong, every movie should attempt to make a point, not matter how silly or obscure it may be. For most films, the point evolves over the course of the story and then becomes apparent in the final act. However, there are some movies which make their point early on and then have nothing else to say, leaving the audience to keep asking "And?" as the film spools on but nothing happens. Good Kill is that kind of movie.
Ethan Hawke stars in Good Kill as Major Thomas Egan, a pilot who flew six tours in the Middle East. His home is now in Las Vegas, where he spends his days sitting in a small building piloting a drone which is thousands of miles away. Egan's average day has him flying the drone for hours, occasionally destroying a target. His commanding officer, Lieutenant Colonel Jack Johns (Bruce Greenwood) is fair, and understands that Egan missing flying. His teammates, Zimmer (Jake Abel), Christie (Dylan Kenin), and Carlos (Ryan Montano) are mostly easy going, but Egan still hates what he is doing. His homelife isn't much better. His wife, Molly (January Jones) is devoted and Egan has two good kids, but he feels very detached at home and gets drunk every night. A new member, Vera Suarez (Zoe Kravitz), joins the team around the same time that the crew begins to take orders from the CIA, and Egan really begins to question what he is doing.
OK, in case you missed it, the point of Good Kill is that Major Thomas Egan had spent his career flying in actual F-16s. He's now confined to sitting in a box in the Nevada desert and remotely flying a drone which is halfway around the world. He misses flying a real plane and is becoming fed up with the artificial war in which he's killing enemies on a video screen. His frustration causes him to drink and it's creating tension at home. And that's the entire movie. This certainly seems like a good jumping off point for a film, but this is literally all that we get. The only thing that changes over the course of the film's 102-minute running time is that Egan gets a little bit angrier and more distant with each scene.
The film does attempt to make another point, which is that modern-day warfare is very strange in that soldiers are killing people who are nowhere near them and they never get any blood on their hands. This isn't exactly news, as drones have been used for years, but it is a fair point. However, the movie never moves beyond this either. Egan's job sucks not only because he's not happy, but because he's killing people who may or may not be terrorists. He's simply following orders. This point is made early on and it intensifies when the CIA steps in, but nothing ever gets resolved. And perhaps that's the ultimate point, that war is still hell today, but in a new way. However, no resolution or closing argument is no way to end a movie.
The most disappointing thing about Good Kill is that it comes from a filmmaker who was on fire in the late 90s. Having writtenThe Truman Show and written and directed Gattaca, I considered Andrew Niccol to be one of the most creative people working in film at the time. However, his career has gone downhill since, with his last two movies -- In Time and The Host -- being absolute turkeys. Good Kill shows that he still has a keen interest in being political, but heís lost his ability to tell a story. This is further confounded by the fact that Good Kill has a great visual scheme, as Niccol makes Vegas look just like the deserts of the Middle East. However, this none-too-subtle visual treat can not save a movie which gives everything away in the first act.
Good Kill asked my question -- Why do they wear flightsuits? -- and then never answered it on Blu-ray Disc courtesy of Paramount Home Entertainment. The film has been letterboxed at 2.35:1 and the Disc contains an AVC 1080p HD transfer which runs at an average of 38 Mbps. The image is very sharp and clear, showing no noticeable grain and no defects from the source material. The lack of grain is commendable, as the bulk of the film takes place against beige backgrounds. Speaking of which, we donít get many bold colors here, but the few that appear, such as Eganís island of grass in his backyard, look good. The image is never overly dark or bright. The level of detail is very good and the depth looks very nice, most notably in the landscape shots. The Disc carries a DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track which runs at 48 kHz and an average of 3.7 Mbps. The track provides clear dialogue and sound effects. A flying sequences provides notable surround and stereo effects, as the jet moves across the screen and through the speakers. A nightclub scene also delivers good sound and notable bass.
The lone extra on the Good Kill Blu-ray Disc is "Good Kill: Behind the Scenes" (15 minutes). This featurette offers interviews with Andrew Niccol, as well as the primary cast. The speakers talk about the story and characters, but more importantly, they focus on the film's themes. We get some on-set footage, but this is mostly comprised of interviews and clips from the movie.
Review Copyright 2015 by Mike Long