I realized recently, that we are a generation that has always known war. Whether it was a silent war Cold War, or the current War on Terror; the 20th century has been plagued with war. The most fascinating, or devastating, aspect of this climate is how war has evolved within these past 30 years.
In Drone, the new film by Jason Bourque, the audience explores the reality of war, and how disconnected the warriors have become. Neil (Sean Bean) is a contract drone pilot for the CIA, conducting calculated attacks from his office in the states. It is presumed he has never seen war, but he is on the forefront of illuminating hostile targets, with unfortunate civilian casualties. The separation between Neil and the war zone may be blurred after a leak of classified documents hit the open market, and retribution is sought after by those wrongfully killed.
From the opening scenes, one might believe they are in for the typical “us vs them” military war film, but it’s not long before that anticipation is blown out of the water. It’s something that we don’t immediately think about, but the fact that drones are leading our fight against the enemy is fully addressed in the film. It ends up opening the term “fighting on the front lines” to mean something completely different.
Don’t mistake this film for a war film, as that is only a small aspect of the film. Instead, the film leaps from the starting point of war to become a well crafted thriller. More to the point, this is a home invasion movie. There are uncomfortable moments sprinkled throughout that make your heart race, where a family is forced to stay locked in their home with a dangerous man. However, the family doesn’t sense this as it is a seemingly welcoming dinner among newly formed friends. These conflicting atmospheres of the antagonist and protagonists perceptions are woven together nicely.
With all of that said, there is still something bigger being spoken thanks to the film’s central plot. Drone opens the door to a much deeper philosophical conversation about modern warfare, it’s hard not to feel something once the movie has ended. It’s a perfect mix between big budget war film and indie thriller, which is what the topic should evoke within us.
Besides the conversation that’s open for discussion, one of the most striking things about the movie is the appearance. At its core, Drone, centers on two fronts, war and home. Bourque and cinematographers Graham Talbot and Nelson Talbot made an interesting choice when developing the world for these conflicting settings.
For Miransha, Pakistan, where the hunt for terrorists is underway, the colors are vibrant. Bold radiant colors paint a hopeful energy within the city, the opposite of what their situation may be. The Pakistani people may be surrounded by war, some have chosen to live their lives without fear and as happy as they can. Yet for Renton, Washington, where the strikes are originating from, the palette is a much bleaker color. Heavy tones of grey and muted colors weigh on the conflict-free United States, but speak to the secrets that lie within the inhabitants. It’s an interesting element of the film, and one that helps usher in the topic at hand.
These two worlds maybe represented visually by contrasting pigments, the characters chosen are the same. Both of these men, Neil and Imir, are loving family men, and even if work keeps them separated for some time, the affection they feel never leaves. In order to, in the simplest of terms, represent a territory, the actors needed to be of equal caliber.
Anyone familiar with Sean Bean, and his impressive resume, knows that there is no challenge that he can’t overcome. The quest, then becomes, to find someone who is able to stand equal with him in the acting realm. Thankfully Patrick Sabongui was a perfect cast mate. Sabongui is able to match the intensity of Bean, and even rise above when the need was right. It was a beautiful dance between foes that started out as apparent friends.
Two sides in a conflict of war have been visited in film before, but unlike the subtle tension presented in Drone. This film rips open a heated topic and allows the audience to view through a different landscape, bringing the conflict home. It’s a discussion that is uncomfortable, but with the changing landscapes of the way the world conducts war, it’s one that needs to be addressed.
This film is still very much enjoyable without the nosedive into diplomacy, but it’s harder to ignore than others. Even with the lean towards demonstration, the unique way these locations are represented on film, and the impeccable talent from the leading men, Drone deserves to be seen.
Drone opens in theaters on May 26th, 2017.
Written by Lisa Mejia
Images provided by Screen Media Films