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Ethan Hawke does a lot of brooding in “Good Kill,” but then he has quite a bit to brood about.

Hawke plays Major Thomas Egan, an Air Force fighter pilot reassigned to fly drones over Afghanistan and Yemen. Stationed in a metal box in the desert outside Las Vegas, he spends his days dropping bombs on unsuspecting people, many of whom seem to be perfectly innocent.

This cannot be a healthy activity for the soul, and, sure enough, the Major is a tight-lipped wreck who keeps a bottle of vodka handy in the bathroom at home and can barely manage to converse with his patient, bombshell wife (January Jones).

Still, he’s coping in his own headed-for-a-heart-attack way until his crew receives new orders. They are going beyond the military’s idea of war and will now be doing surgical strikes for the CIA. If things were ugly before, now they’re downright odious. Now they hit a target, wait a few minutes for rescuers and first-responders to show up, and then hit it again.

If the Major is shaken by this, his assistant, Airman Vera Suarez (Zoe Kravitz), is even more vocal in questioning the disembodied orders that come over a speakerphone. And everyone’s disgusted as they repeatedly watch a thuggish man rape an innocent mother at a compound they’re monitoring.

This all takes place in 2010, when American drones were apparently at their most active, and writer-director Andrew Niccol certainly ventures into morally reprehensible territory. Unfortunately he doesn’t seem to quite know what to do there. He relies too heavily on the Major’s boss (Bruce Greenwood) for moral proclamations and explanations while letting his protagonist predictably fall apart. “Good Kill” is darkly enlightening, but it’s not really all that good.

tlong@detroitnews.com

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‘Good Kill’

GRADE: C+

Rated R for violent content including a rape, language, and some sexuality

Running time: 102 minutes

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