A Las Vegas-based fighter pilot turned drone pilot fights the Taliban by remote control for 12 hours a day, then goes home to the suburbs and feuds with his wife and kids for the other 12. 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.Written by
Toronto International Film Festival
Approximately an hour into the film, the team engage in an operation in Yemen. Vera Suarez says, "I've never been to Yemen, sir," and the footage cuts to the drone camera over a traditional Yemeni home with open courtyards. This is actually a movie set, constructed in Ouarzazate, Morocco for the Jerusalem sequence in Ridley Scott 's Kingdom of Heaven (2005). By agreement with the town's government it remained standing after the film wrapped, and is a popular location for productions involving similarly medieval architecture. It was recently featured during Season 4 of the TV show Game of Thrones (2011). Despite being mostly complete, you can identify it as a movie set from the shot in the film, by noting the scaffolding on the bottom of the structure revealing an incomplete wall. A battering ram prop from Kingdom of Heaven (2005) can be seen next to this scaffolding. See more »
At the funeral of the Taliban commander, the men are aligned in a L-shape. In islam they should stand behind the imam, funeral in front all of them, and all face Mecca. See more »
Eyes on the Kahili objective. 19:30 hours. Entering surveillance hour four. No sign of target... Non-combatant approaching... Two non-combatants.
See more »
Greetings again from the darkness. It sounds like a screenwriter's workshop: write a story centered on a joystick, a computer monitor, a speaker phone and a shipping container. Most would surrender their Pulitzer dream and head back to the day job. Andrew Niccol, on the other hand, is a talented writer/director known for such projects as Gattaca, Lord of War, and The Truman Show. His story is set in 2010 and is "based on a true story" of drone warfare.
It could seem a bit dated to explore a topic that most have known about for years, but Niccol manages to wring out a story that keeps us engaged and more importantly, encourages discussion about the concept of "video game warfare".
Ethan Hawke plays a fighter pilot who has been reassigned as a drone pilot after serving 6 tours in Afghanistan. Each day he reports to duty on a Las Vegas base and spends 12 hours locked away in a cramped shipping container staring at a video monitor while delicately manipulating a joystick that can kill people 7000 miles away within 10 seconds. These killer drones have transformed warfare, and as far as I know, this is the first film version dedicated to the daily lives of the men and women serving this duty.
Given what we know about fighter pilots, it's not surprising that Hawke's character is crumbling emotionally missing the danger that comes with a real cockpit. His marriage to January Jones is void of any intimacy or communication (partially due to his alcoholism), though surprisingly, Ms. Jones delivers something other than her typical cardboard cutout performance. Watching the suburban lifestyle of these two – grilling, backyard parties, math homework with the kids – brings nothing new to the screen, but tension is palpable as Hawke and his co-drone-pilot Zoe Kravitz are locked away and forced to follow morally-questionable orders from Langley (voiced by the great Peter Coyote). Put yourself on that joystick and imagine what you would do.
The story pushes us to discuss the dehumanization of war, and the idea that the Air Force is now best described as the "Chair Force". Especially interesting is the official verbiage used by the CIA and military in an effort to avoid "killing" and "innocent bystanders". Think about the fact that 3 decades have passed since we got caught up in the thrill of Tom Cruise and Val Kilmer as Top Gun pilots, and now some of the most deadly decisions are made based on a visual feed from a done hovering at 10,000 feet.
Mr. Niccol delivers a thought-provoking movie, which alone sets it above many. The drone's eye view follows not just the movements of the enemy, but also those of Hawke at home and in his car. Hawke's commanding officer is played by Bruce Greenwood, who delivers the film's best line: as Hawke is looking at Greenwood's fighter pilot photos, he says, you are probably thinking "I must have been a pilot before Pontius". It's a great line and one that reinforces how warfare has changed from boots on the ground to recruits based on their video game savvy. Surgical strikes are the preferred manner of warfare, so watch this and ask yourself what would you do?
30 of 37 people found this review helpful.
Was this review helpful to you?
| Report this