A drone used to be a male honeybee or a person prone to talking at boring length with little or no inflection to his or her voice. Post-9/11, though, the word almost invariably conjures up visions of armed, remote-controlled aircraft, usually of U.S. origin, flying the skies of Pakistan, Afghanistan, Yemen, Somalia and other hot zones of the war on terror.
So it is in this documentary, executive-produced by Canada's Peter Wintonick (Manufacturing Consent) just before his death in late 2013. The film ranges far, wide and deep in its exploration of this distinctively 21st-century form of "dehumanized" combat.
Human-rights activists, stressed-out former drone operators, crusading lawyers, survivors of drone attacks, Colin Powell's ex-chief of staff, dogged investigative journalists, United Nations special representatives – they all put in frequently gripping appearances to sound various alarms about "extrajudicial killing," "permanent, borderless warfare," violations of national sovereignty and just how happy the United States is going to be when China or Iran puts a surveillance drone or three over Manhattan.