Ethan Hawke and January Jones in Good Kill.

Ethan Hawke plays an alcoholic drone pilot in Good Kill, an intriguing drama from director Andrew Niccol.

Maj. Thomas Egan (Hawke), a former pilot, now spends his days and nights remotely killing the enemy: He commands drones with a joystick, taking orders from his commander (Bruce Greenwood) and never putting himself at actual risk.

The situation leaves Egan bored, stressed out and reliant on alcohol; this creates problems at the workplace and at home with his wife, Molly (a strong January Jones). When the CIA steps in and takes over Egan’s operations, things get a little shady—and Egan is pushed over the edge.

What makes this movie work is the performance of Hawke, who just gets better and better with each movie. His Egan shows a believable combination of extreme guilt and a newer form of battle fatigue. Jones matches Hawke with her performance, and Greenwood strengthens the cast.

Niccol, who worked with Hawke on Gattaca, makes up for the recent misfire that was The Host, a Saoirse Ronan disaster. This is a different kind of war movie for a different kind of war.

Good Kill is available on demand and via online sources including Tunes and It’s also now playing at the Cinémas Palme d’Or (72840 Highway 111, Palm Desert; 760-779-0430).