Tagged: sci-fi

Review of Good Kill, directed by Andrew Niccol

You know that a movie is no good when it’s available for free in high definition on the internet one month before it is in theaters. I actually have a theory about these things. You can’t tell me that all the big movies, like Furious 7, have some special agreement within their production team to not leak a copy early to the internet and that the lesser movies aren’t able to form this sort of solidarity. So my theory is that certain movies, even ones with A-list-ers, are purposefully leaked so the studio or powers that be can get a feel, or more properly, brace themselves for the box office flop that they already fear they’ve produced. Niccol’s flick Good Kill starring Ethan Hawke is just such a movie.

If you haven’t heard of the film that isn’t due in theaters until May 15th, it’s essentially American Sniper, except that it’s about an USAF drone pilot instead of a Navy SEAL sniper. But all the familiar themes are there–estranged wife, alcohol abuse, PTSD, questioning the war, suspected adultery on all sides.

Naturally, I watched the film because it’s about something very close to home. When I worked shifts in the operations center overseas, I watched “predator-vision,” as they called it, and saw little black missiles zip from the top left of the screen onto the astonishingly unsuspecting bad guy. I heard knuckleheads cheer in a way that made me uncomfortable, though I was never certain which of us was expressing the proper sentiment after witnessing such things.

I’ll tell you what my favorite part of the movie was, the movie that no one should watch (it really is terrible and boring and filled with an agenda that is not hidden anywhere close to well enough to be powerful), my favorite part of the movie were the scenes where the camera lingered–perhaps unintentionally–on shots of the six or seven trailers that were essentially the cockpits of the unmanned aircraft. There was just something about the idea that in the middle of the desert in an unknown location, Air Force personnel are sitting inside tan double-wides and sniping terrorists seven thousand miles away. It’s difficult to articulate my feelings about it, but especially if the director lingered on purpose, I think those scenes are the “a picture’s worth a thousand words” that define the issue (or whatever we’re calling it.)

In the end, I don’t know why I watch these movies and I’m probably going to call it quits soon. Hollywood’s proven they can get insider information and make a realistic movie, but Good Kill is just another example that despite this access they have nothing valuable to say on the matter.


Mission Commander Stevenson

The planet’s Earth-like gravity had an unexpected welcoming effect on Mission Commander Stevenson as he stepped out of the craft. This was the forty-first world he had visited on this particular eighteen month mission. He hadn’t shared with anyone yet that it would be his last. He was sixty-four years old and while his mind was never sharper, his body was starting to say no.

NASA probably expected him to call it quits sooner rather than later, but he knew they would be sorry to see him leave. Not the first mission commander to make a career of exploring new galaxies, he hoped he would prove to be the most steadfast. He had personally stepped foot on six hundred thirty-five extraterrestrial worlds. Not one of them contained life.

Oh, sure, he had had plenty of R and R back on Earth between missions, but it was all beginning to wear on him. As evidence of this, to a person, all the other astronauts could even deliver his famous “one complaint” speech–accent and all–verbatim.

Month thirteen, almost to the day, he’d say, “For someone as fortunate as me, someone who has seen the glory of the cosmos up close and in person, to complain would be criminal.” The imitator would then pause, just like Stevenson always did. “But I am human. I do have my own thoughts. And if I had to pick one thing that I would change about the program, it would be the gloves! I have spent over half my life feeling the inside of a pair of gloves. Every celebratory hug we’ve had after discovering we got a chance to live on after opening the door, every rock I’ve lifted, every flagpole I’ve planted, every tool I’ve used, everything has felt the same. I just wish something could be done about that.” Every newbie expected the speech to end at that point and just about interrupted the old man as he continued undeterred, which made it all the more amusing for everyone else. “I miss the feel of a woman, the feel of a Christmas tree, the feel of not quite warm enough shower water. Most of all, I miss the feel of dirt–my dirt.”

As he looked back for the others to join him on the ritual first walk around the new world, he unconsciously reached for the fastener on his glove.