Good Kill Andrew Niccol’s Sobering 21st Century Riposte to Top Gun
In Good Kill, which has its world premiere this month at the Venice Film Festival, New Zealand writer-director Andrew Niccol explores the implications of waging war while staying home, a development that – for the drone operators – has blurred the border between front line and home.
The ethical cost to a nation and the emotional toll on individuals of America’s new weaponry are explored in the film, a sobering 21st-century riposte to Top Gun that stars Ethan Hawke as a former combat pilot reassigned to fly missions in Afghanistan from the safety of a trailer in the Nevada desert.
“I’m always interested in how humanity and technology intersect,” Niccol said.
The film suggests that the ability to kill from thousands of miles away is profoundly disorienting.
“I feel like a coward every day,” says Hawke’s character, Major Thomas Egan, a veteran of several tours of duty as the pilot of an F-16.
Now grounded, he’s adrift, drinking too much and arguing with his wife, played by January Jones.
Niccol said former drone pilots he interviewed felt ashamed, like Egan, to be waging a war without any personal risk, but still suffered from the emotional strain of combat.
“You’ve got shell shock but you’re thousands of miles from the shell,” the director said during an interview in Venice.
A Variety review of the film says Niccol’s work is a “tense war drama notable for its tact and intelligence.”
Niccol, 50, was born in Paraparaumu.
Original article by Jill Lawless, The Sacramento Bee, September 5, 2014.
Photo by Domenico Stinellis/AP Photo.