Good Kill ****Dir: Andrew Niccol. With: Ethan Hawke, Zoe Kravitz, January Jones, Bruce Greenwood. 102 mins. Cert: 15
With this piercing study of a US drone pilot, writer-director Andrew Niccol updates the premise of his script for 1998’s The Truman Show: Big Brother is now not only watching, but able to obliterate us with a single button-push. The irony is that Ethan Hawke’s Tom Egan, patrolling Afghanistan from a Portakabin in the Nevada desert, suffers a growing impotency: in tense, crafted suspense sequences, we watch him watching, helpless, while children stray into target range and a rapist runs amok. As Langley ups its drone use, Niccol pulls sharp focus on the psychological aftershocks, while sparky workplace back-and-forths keep the editorial both lively and fully dramatised. Egan – like Truman – finally obtains his freedom via a setpiece with the inbuilt thrill of witnessing someone defy the highest of authorities. Yet this smart and serious thinkpiece never loses sight of the overheads: the steep personal price paid for it, and the collateral damage incurred in the process.
Good Kill is now playing in cinemas nationwide.