Review: ‘Drone’ raises questions about remote-controlled warfare

The documentary "Drone" examines the covert CIA drone war.

The documentary “Drone” examines the covert CIA drone war.


A close-up examination of the ramifications of remote warfare, “Drone” is a solid, thought-provoking documentary that raises some pertinent questions even if they may not originate from the most objective of places.

While armed drones have become the weapon of choice in the war on terror, arguably saving the lives of countless American soldiers in the process, Norwegian filmmaker Tonje Hessen Schei takes the stance that the “point-and-click” technology is shaping a generation of indifference where humanitarian issues are concerned.

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Gathering historians, civil rights activists and military personnel, including a repentant, former U.S. Air Force drone operator, the film has some justifiable concerns over accountability for civilian deaths and injuries in places such as Pakistan, where those hovering armed robots have become a way of life.


Schei’s approach doesn’t always come across as completely fair and balanced — many an accusing finger is pointed in the direction of America’s “terrorist industrial complex” underscored by ominous music — but she nevertheless makes some genuinely troubling observations regarding the psychology of distance. Chief among them is seeing a convention floor filled with young teen gamers being assessed for recruitment by Air Force personnel.



No MPAA rating.

Running time: 1 hour, 18 minutes.

Playing: Laemmle’s Music Hall, Beverly Hills.