Director Andrew Niccol’s 1997 science fiction film about a future where humanity’s genetic makeup is firmly under societal control, Gattaca, still has quite a few fans. To the point where whenever you’re talking about science fiction movies someone will inevitably say to you, “Hey, have you seen Gattaca? You should see Gattaca.” The problem for Niccol is that nobody has liked anything else he’s done since nearly as much, especially recently, as he’s been churning out intriguing-looking but ultimately completely shitty sci-fi schlock like In Time and The Host.
Perhaps all it would take for Niccol to step up his game and make another fan favorite film would be a re-teaming with his Gattaca star Ethan Hawke though. After all, once a filmmaker has shown that he’s capable of making one good movie, you know that there’s always a chance he could do it again. Or, at least, these are the things that we should currently be hoping, because Deadline is reporting that Niccol and Hawke are getting ready to team up and make another movie together, and after Hawke just dumped The Purge and Getaway on our heads, he’s a guy who could use a little redemption as well.
According to the report, this still-untitled new film is going to see Hawke (should he become official, as he’s currently said to be “in talks”) playing a drone pilot for the US military. The thing about doing this sort of job is that it produces a weird double life, because, instead of being out in the thick of the fighting like a traditional pilot would be, this character sits in an office in Las Vegas all day bombing the crap out of people who are half a world away, and then he goes home at night to his loving wife and kids. Word is that, as the story goes along, all of that casual, detached murder starts to wear on the guy, and he then finds himself calling his life and his mission into question.
While it sounds like this movie is going to be more than just a sci-fi thriller, and appears to be much more reflective of our immediate situation than most of the movies Niccol makes are, this won’t be the first time that the filmmaker takes on the might of the military (Lord of War) or the detachment that digital technology brings to our lives (S1m0ne) as his subjects. The problem with Niccol’s movies isn’t that he doesn’t layer them with heady ideas and thematics, it’s that he can be too heavy-handed and obvious in his execution. Will dealing with a subject that’s a little less out there and is currently in the news every day like drone warfare be the thing that allows him to bring a little subtlety back to his writing? Hopefully, because it sure would be nice to see him and Hawke match what they did back in ’97. Or at least match what they did the second time they worked together in 2005. I remember Lord of War as being passable, right?