Good Kill (Blu-ray Review)

Good KillFrom the producers of The Hurt Locker comes a riveting thriller about 21st-centuray warfare, where combat unfolds like a video game, but with real lives at stake. Veteran Air Force pilot Tom Egan (Ethan Hawke) yearns to get back into the cockpit of a plane, but now he launches drone strikes from an air-conditioned box in the Las Vegas desert while mentoring a new sensor operator (Zoe Kravitz). When he starts taking orders directly from the CIA, the stakes are raised and Egan’s nerves – and relationship with his wife (January Jones) – begin to unravel. 

Good Kill


Good Kill stars Ethan Hawk as former pilot, Tom Egan, turned UAV (Unmanned Aerial Vehicle) pilot. He pilots this aircraft from a remote location in the Nevada desert. He sits at a control table in an air-conditioned storage container-looking contraption. He is under supervision by Lt. Colonel Jack Johns (Bruce Greenwood) and is assisted by Airman Vera Suarez (Zoe Kravitz). Egan flies these UAV drones in the middle east and he takes out high valued targets from the comfort of that air-conditioned storage container he works out of. He asks no questions, tells no lies. All he wants to do is get back in the cockpit and fly again.

Once the first 20 or so minutes of the film kick in they sort of repeat themselves in terms of “going through the motions.” Egan drives a very nice muscle car through the Vegas Strip, visits the same liquor store to buy booze, is in a loveless marriage with his wife, (played by January Jones) and doesn’t spend enough time with his kids before he has to rinse and repeat the whole process over again week after week. Doing what he does – it’s a thankless job but someone has to do it no matter the cost.

I found some of the scenes involving Egan and his fellow comrades trying to have a good time in Vegas very effective in that here they are in the middle of all this glitz and glamour and all they do is talk about the job and getting back to it. There’s restlessness to their characters. Egan makes decent money as a career military man but because he’s hardly ever home his wife has to raise the children herself and may or may not have had her eye on other men. This is never made clear in the film but it does provoke a response out of Egan. He knows it’s ruining their marriage but he can’t just quit, so he continues doing what he does.

Egan is immersed in piloting the drones that he’s almost a fly on the wall or proverbial “voyeur” in a sense. He has those one-way conversation with the “characters” he sees on the monitor. Pretty soon he starts to empathize with them (his targets and collateral damage) and this causes some backlash between his superiors and the CIA, which has come in to take over operations via a mysterious voice over a telephone. Egan borders the line of being in a psychosis and we start to hover over that line, too.

I used to say that Andrew Niccol was the original “Christopher Nolan,” because Niccol’s earlier films were smart and entertaining. That stopped about 10 years ago with Lord of War. Since then Niccol has made a couple of big budget bombs that were all style and no substance, which was very uncommon in his case. Now that he has made Good Kill I can say that he’s back to form. Good Kill doesn’t play to the American jingoistic crowd – far from it – in fact, this film spins that notion on its head and examines the high cost of those who engage in a long distance war. Ethan Hawke does some great work here and you really start to feel the haze he’s in. Good Kill is a cool little film and I’m hoping that Andrew Niccol can keep the momentum going with his next project whatever it may be. Good Kill is highly recommended.


Good Kill


Encoding: AVC/MPEG-4

Resolution: 1080p

Aspect Ratio: 2.40:1

Clarity/Detail: Sharpness and contrast levels shined throughout – the only reason why this transfer does not get a reference mark is due to the bits of softness illustrated in the obvious CGI enhanced shots of the plains photographed by the drones. Yes, it’s expected that they’d be enhanced but softness is a major factor. If you’ve ever seen footage of real drone aerial photography you will see that there’s nothing soft about the picture there. No, this is not a major deal, as you can see from the final rating,  it’s just a slight nitpick.

Depth: The scenes in the desert had the best depth of all, as did a few perspective shots of the Strip.

Black Levels: Black levels are great – crush is nowhere to be found.

Color Reproduction: The color palette changes quite a bit throughout. One minute we’re in the colorless desert and the next we’re blazing through the Strip and into the suburbs saturated in colors. Wherever we are – the colors are big and bold and it’s all good.

Flesh Tones: Everyone looked great – yes, they did break a sweat in the desert but it’s to be expected and the Blu-ray transfer brought that through.

Noise/Artifacts: The high definition image on this Blu-ray disc was noise and artifacts-free.


Good Kill



Audio Format(s): English DTS-HD MA 5.1

Subtitles: English, English SDH, French, Spanish

Dynamics: When we’re in the control room the sound field is a bit tight and focused but then it lets out a deep breath once we’re out and about in the Vegas heat. There’s lots of military happenings form vehicles and planes zig and zagging all over the place. The Blu-ray handles it well.

Low Frequency Extension: The LFE channel was big and beefy in certain spots. Check out the scenes of Egan driving fast and furious through the Vegas Strip – it’ll make you tingle – in a good way.

Surround Sound Presentation: The surround sound channels handle the ambience and background effects nicely. Those rooms they control the drones in are always filled with several personnel, so when someone is controlling a drone out in front you can hear voices in the background, too.

Dialogue Reproduction: The film is a primarily dialogue driven affair and I had no problems understanding what was being said during playback. Dialogue is clean and clear even during the scenes involving warfare.

Good Kill


Good Kill is the type of film we want more of, in my case, but the Blu-ray skimps on any relevant extras. There is only one featurette that runs about 15 minutes and that’s it. It’s presented in high definition, as well.

  • Good Kill: Behind the Scenes (HD)
  • Digital HD UltraViolet Copy 


Good Kill


 It’s kind of ironic that in order to reclaim your greatness or “mojo” you have to go back to your lower budget roots. I think writer, producer, director Andrew Niccol has found that, in Good Kill – a subtle film about a not so subtle subject matter, with some very excellent and hinged and unhinged performances by Ethan Hawke and company. The Blu-ray has terrific video and audio specs but drops the ball in the special features department. Good Kill is cousin to Niccols’ underrated masterpiece: Lord of War. Give it a go!




Good Kill is now available on Blu-ray & DVD!






Good Kill


Gerard Iribe is a writer/reviewer for Why So Blu?. He has also reviewed for other sites like DVD Talk, Project-Blu, and CHUD, but Why So Blu? is where the heart is. You can follow his incoherency on Twitter: @giribe

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