A nail-biter of a thriller.

by Nav Qateel

Directed by Rick Rosenthal, Drones tells the story of two drone operators, who suffer a crisis of conscious after calling into question the veracity of the intel they’ve been given during a live operation. If they follow their orders the collateral damage will include innocent civilians.

Working from a well-written script by Matt Witten, Rosenthal examines the morals of killing the enemy with drones, and in the process gives us a nail-biter of a thriller. The effect of drone strikes on the men and women who operate the UAVs is relatively untapped, and I can see there being a few big budget movies worth of material that could be mined from it. Witten has penned several episodes of Jag–as well as Law & Order and House MD–so it’s no wonder the script is intelligent and witty with plenty of navy-speak for those of you who like a bit of detail.

Directed by
Rick Rosenthal
Eloise Mumford, Matt O’Leary, Whip Hubley
Release Date
27 June 2014
Nav’s Grade: B

Eloise Mumford (In the Blood) plays the daughter of a general, Lieutenant Sue Lawson, who suffered an eye injury and is no longer able to do anything else but operate drones. Sue is new to the small and claustrophobic operation center in the Nevada Desert, where she’s surrounded by posters of 9/11 targets. Being the daughter of a general Sue has a lot to live up to but doesn’t think she’ll get a chance working with UAVs. Mumford did some great work here and handled the role like and old pro. This is only the second time I’ve seen the actress perform but that’s not surprising as Mumford is relatively new to acting–having only started in 2008.

Matt O’Leary (Pawn Shop Chronicles) plays Airman Jack Bowles, a guy who didn’t attend collage but can outshine the others when it comes to piloting drones … and playing video games. Bowles boasts of his 23 confirmed kills–some of which include innocent women and children. His nonchalant attitude troubles Sue, as she listens to his long-distance conquests while he orders pizza. I thought O’Leary was extremely effective at playing the young and brash Airman, and delivered his lines like the role was written with him in mind.

Both actors carried the full weight of this film easily and demonstrated just what they can do with the right material. Rick Rosenthal’s direction was also solid, and while the auteur doesn’t do a great deal of movies, he still keeps his skills honed by doing tons of TV episodes. Rosenthal is probably best remembered for his first movie Halloween II made in 1981, from back when the Halloween films were still scary. Drones demonstrates Rosenthal can still offer up thrills and crank up tension on the big screen, so I hope we don’t need to wait years for his next movie endeavor.

Drones forces us to question and examine the morals of using UAVs in this day and age, in a manner not dissimilar to that brilliant thriller Unthinkable by Gregor Jordan. Whether it manages to pull it off I’ll let you decide, but as far as entertainment goes Drones definitely succeedes.