Movie Review: “Good Kill”

Ethan Hawke, January Jones, Bruce Greenwood, Zoe Kravitz
Andrew Niccol

Andrew Niccol’s filmography as of late has been nothing short of disappointing. The writer/director once showed promise as one of cinema’s next great visionaries with his directorial debut, “Gattaca.” Since then, his career has had its ups and downs. “Lord of War” was a bold look into the world of arms dealing, but he followed up that excellent dark comedy with “The Host” and “In Time,” two all-around lackluster studio pictures. They’re safe movies, missing Niccol’s personality and eye for moral ambiguity. With “Good Kill,” Niccol returns to his roots with a movie that exists firmly in the grey.

Air Force pilot Tom Egan (Ethan Hawke) is no longer fighting wars in the sky. Now operating as a drone pilot, he attacks from a box in Las Vegas, Nevada, far away from any serious danger. As a man who served six tours of duty in the sky, this doesn’t sit well with Tom, because even though he gets to spend more time with his wife Molly (January Jones) and their kids, he feels like a coward for having to fight like he’s playing a video game. At the start of the film, Tom is in bad shape, but once he and his fellow drone pilots, including Vera Suaraz (Zoe Kravitz), start taking questionable orders from the CIA, his job and life crumbles.

A soldier haunted by what he’s seen has been well covered on film by this point. Tom Egan isn’t exactly a new or fresh character, but drone warfare is a new world, and it’s one that Niccol fully dives into, leaving no morally complex stone unturned. The writer/director shows all facets of drone warfare – both pros and cons – and the film highlights a variety of perspectives, not only Tom’s. This isn’t an anti-war picture, it’s an honest war picture.

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A chat with Ethan Hawke, Julie Delpy and director Richard Linklater (“Before Midnight”)

It’s not often that a romantic movie sparks a sequel, and even rarer when the sequels are set nine years apart. The relationship between actors Ethan Hawke, Julie Delpy and director Richard Linklater is just as unique as the characters Hawke and Delpy portray in their latest film, “Before Midnight.” The dialogue-heavy film focuses on the struggles of married life and the sacrifices that must be made. Recently, the trio sat down to discuss the collaborative effort involved and how they’ve managed to stay on the same creative page over the last 18 years.

BULLZ-EYE: The couple deals with the problem of moving to another country to be with their partner. Have any of you faced that kind of decision?

ETHAN HAWKE: Part of the idea of the movie is that it’s very easy to look at a romantic relationship when there’s an obvious bad guy. One person’s an alcoholic or one person is abusive, but what if you were to take two well-meaning people who actually love each other and want the best for each other? It’s still hard. We paint that portrait. I think anyone who’s been in a long term relationship, whether it feels as dramatic as Chicago and Paris, it’s whether or not your lives are still growing on the same road or does one need to change the road to keep growing.

JULIE DELPY: That’s what it’s about. There’s no bad guy, in particular. They still have to make compromises and they all feel like who’s making the most compromises and what compromise might jeopardize their relationship and their love. It’s all about finding the right road, and the road is this small not for it to fall apart. In a long term relationship, you always have to make choices. Actually, their relationship starts with a choice that Jesse makes, which is to follow his heart, but that comes with consequences. The film starts with the consequences of that choice. We find out that there’s a situation again where they have to make a choice. Jesse’s putting in her face that he might want to move back to the States, but it might jeopardize their entire life, so the life of a relationship.

RICHARD LINKLATER: That’s appropriate for where they find themselves in life. In the first movie, for instance, they’re unattached. You see how easily they get off a train and go home a day later and do whatever. You have that looseness. They both actually moved around a lot over the years, but when they were single and unattached. Now, you see how difficult that is to maneuver through life with the exact same person and stay on the same track. It’s tough.

ETHAN HAWKE: We will also take questions about your personal relationships and advise you. (laughs)

BE: What are the challenges of performing the long dialogues in the movie, especially the one in the car with the kids?

JULIE DELPY: Just mentioning that scene gives me a flashback of anxiety. (laughs) My heart is already beating slightly faster.

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