I'm just going to come right out and say it. Ethan Hawke-starrer [Good Kill](movie:1154433) just might be the [American Sniper](movie:401418) and the multi-faceted war movie we've been waiting for.
One of the major criticisms lobbied at the latter is that its protagonist, Chris Kyle, never undergoes any sort of evolution throughout the film. He learns nothing, believes nothing different, and is essentially the same person at the start of the film that he is at the end of it.
From all indications, it will not be the same for Ethan Hawke's protagonist in Good Kill. Check out the powerful new UK trailer for the film, which is already getting rave reviews:
Let's break down the UK trailer, shall we?
With them putting its impressive pedigree up front, along with its September release date (the UK will see it released in April), this film very well could be a contender come awards season, though admittedly on the early end of things.
Ethan Hawke plays Tom Egan, a former fighter pilot turned drone pilot. Instead of flying a jet, he spend his days remote controlling drones and bombing cities halfway around the world before going home to his family at night.
Good Kill doesn't pull any punches about how detached and robotic the act of drone warfare can be, either: "War is now a first-person shooter...half of you were recruited because you are a bunch of gamers," says their commanding officer in a blunt assessment of what they do every day.
While many of his comrades high-five each other and fist-bump when confirming a "good kill"...
Egan begins to struggle with the ethics of what he's doing. He gets to go home to his wife and children every night, his family.
But what about the people he bombs? Is he bombing the right people? What happens when civilians get in the way? When he has to release a bomb knowing there are children in the drop zone and that they will be killed?
Which is exactly what happens in a gut-churning scene from the trailer when two children run into the target zone.
"Abort??" asks his partner in dismay.
"Negative," says a dead-eyed, dead-voiced Egan. Unlike American Sniper's trailer, in which the camera cuts away just as Chris Kyle's finger tightens on the trigger with a child in his sights, Good Kill offers no such potential reprieve from an irredeemable decision:
And Egan begins to wonder if he's fighting in a pointless war that has no end in sight, if he's just helping to create more terrorists. If he's becoming a monster.
"I am a pilot," he tell his wife, "and I'm not flying...I don't know what it is that I am doing, but...it's not flying."
"Is that so bad?" his wife asks. "You're still making people safe."
"Every day I feel like a coward taking potshots at somebody halfway around the world," he confesses to his partner, perhaps the only other person who can understand the daily struggle for whatever passes for his soul.
"Don't ask me if it's a just war," says his weary commanding officer. "To us, it's just war."
"You've just gotta keep compartmentalizing."
All due respect to Clint Eastwood, but Andrew Niccol's film is already looking to be a far truer depiction of the horrors of war and one that, at least to this point, seems to humanize the Middle Eastern people we're bombing in a way that American Sniper never does.
Will it be as powerful or do as well at the box office? That remains to be seen. But I'm certainly looking forward to seeing this film, even though I suspect it will wreck me inside.