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Good Kill: The Smell of Napalm in the Morning 

Wednesday, May 20 2015
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Killing is never good — no, not even in whatever hypothetical situation just popped into your head — and Andrew Niccols' Good Kill considers the psychological toll on drone pilots. Tom (Ethan Hawke) is a middle-aged fighter pilot who once flew actual planes, and now remotely controls drones over the Middle East, blowing up confirmed targets (and the occasional innocent bystander) from an Air Force base outside Las Vegas. After work he drive his fancy sports car home to his wife (January Jones, continuing to corner the long-suffering wife to damaged men market) and kids every night, drink beer, and have family barbecues on the weekends. It's all slowly driving him insane. Meanwhile, his new partner Vera (Zoë Kravitz) openly questions the morality of their missions in a way Tom can't bring himself to, particularly the math used by their disembodied CIA overlord (Peter Coyote and not Claire Danes, sadly), while their commander (Bruce Greenwood) serves as director Niccols' chorus, turning subtext into text. Good Kill is shot like a war movie without its subjects ever being in physical danger (including copious drone footage of Las Vegas), and though the intimation romance between Tom and the two-decades-younger Vera is a bit unnecessary, the picture is a mostly engrossing meditation on the bravery of being out of range.

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Sherilyn Connelly

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