Ethan Hawke is riding a wave. Having languished for a time amidst unfortunate exploits, such as Daybreakers, Brooklyn’s Finest and Getaway, he returned to critical favour with Before Midnight in 2013. Following that with Richard Linklater’s acclaimed Boyhood, he is now sweeping through the 2014 festival circuit with Cymbeline and Good Kill.
In another example of the compelling creativity that can come of repeated collaboration, Good Kill is the third film that Hawke has made with writer-director Andrew Niccol. Their previous teamings produced Gattaca and Lord Of War, so the prospect of a reunion for the two would seem very promising indeed.
The official synopsis for the film is as follows:
“Good Kill tells the story of a Las Vegas fighter-pilot turned drone-pilot (Ethan Hawke), who fights the Taliban via remote control for half of his day, then goes home to his wife (January Jones) and kids in the suburbs for the other half. But the pilot is starting to question the mission. Is he creating more terrorists than he’s killing? Is he fighting a war without end? One soldier’s tale with epic implications.
“Good Kill is a visually stunning exploration of a how a man’s psychological, emotional and moral boundaries are challenged by the realities of 21st century warfare. The film initiates important dialogue about the current techniques used in modern war, and in the same vein as The Hurt Locker and Full Metal Jacket, illustrates how war is constantly being redefined according to the technologies and methods in play.”
It’s a bold move, to invoke the spectre of Kubrick while describing your movie, but the critical response to Good Kill at the Venice Film Festival recently would indicate that such claims to quality are not entirely without merit. This week’s screening at the Toronto International Film Festival – though producing a somewhat mixed reaction – should help build on that momentum toward a general release, when we can finally decide for ourselves. Though such a date has yet to be set, distribution is being handled by Voltage Pictures – so we can hopefully look forward to that announcement very soon.