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Posts Tagged ‘Matt Damon’


I tend to reserve trips to the movie theater for big action pictures. There are some movies that don’t translate as well onto the small screen.

I suspected that Matt Damon’s newest movie, Elysium, was one of those movies. It certainly benefited visually from the big screen. It was an interesting movie on a few levels. That doesn’t mean it was a great movie. It had a few flaws.

Elysium was written and directed by Neill Blomkamp who made District 9. It shares much with that movie. It shares the same feel, that jittery camera feel at points, as well as the lighting (very bright) as well as the themes of alienation set in a science fiction context. In this instance, that alienation sets the context rather than being the point.

This time there are no aliens, but it is about the haves and have nots. This is a class warfare movie rather than a race relations movie. The haves live on Elysium, a huge space station with a comfortable and beautiful environment that hovers above the Earth. While there is a President, the focus is on Jodie Foster’s combination of Hilliary Clinton and Janet Nepolitano as Director of Homeland Security Delacourt. Yes, the use the phrase. She is a schemer with ambitions to be President, taking the place of the non-Caucasian currently occupying the office. Interesting huh? Reaching? I’m not sure.

They are there because the Earth of 2154 is now polluted and over-populated. Los Angeles is like a desert (the result of global warming?), and people live in decrepit skyscrapers and other hovels. We are introduced to Max and Frey as children. The nun who cares for them in the orphanage says he has a “special future.” But Max continues to steal from others and we meet him as an adult who is a convicted felon out on parole trying to keep his job.

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 1 The wicked flee when no one pursues, … Proverbs 28

So begins True Grit.  The rest of it reads “… but the righteous are bold as a lion.”  Sounds like they have true grit.  The unseen narrator, an older Mattie Ross, informs us that a coward named Tom Chaney (Josh Brolin) shot and killed her father, and ran though no one followed.  Nothing in this life is free, she says, but the grace of God.  Like a lion, she is going to pursue.  The music in the background for much of the movie is the hymn “Leaning on the Everlasting Arms.”

The Coen brothers say it is not a remake of the John Wayne classic.  But it pretty much follows the plot line except for a few minor deviations.  It is far more stark, however.  It takes place during winter in the Midwest.  Gone is technicolor, and Glen Campbell singing.  But added is the Coen brothers’ flair for dialogue, and Mattie gives them a great opportunity.  Her delivery reminds me of Holly Hunter in their also brilliant Raising Arizona.

She is also tougher than in the 1969 version.  She spends a night in a coffin.  She is dogged in her persistence in negotiation as well as pursuit.  Before she pursues Chaney, she must pursue Reuben “Rooster” Cogburn.  What we discover is not a woman marked by grace, but by law.  The daughter of a Mason, she is a hard teenager.  Like Javert she is going to pursue Chaney, except she is not the long arm of the law.  This movie is about vengeance, not justice.

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I was a little surprised when CavWife said she wanted to see Taken.  I had heard of the brutal torture scene (yes, though extracting information it was torture and tainted by revenge), and thought she wouldn’t be interested.  Ironically, while watching a preview she commented “that’s just about revenge.”  Nevertheless, while at Redbox, I picked up Taken and a Val Kilmer movie I’d never heard of, Columbus Day.

Liam Neeson plays a former CIA “preventer” named Brian Mills.  His casting in this role seems less likely than even Matt Damon as Jason Bourne.  Perhaps I should be cast as Mitch Rapp.  But, I’ve never seen Liam in person so I have little context for this assessment.  Perhaps he’s stronger and quicker than I imagine, but I think it is largely the result of quick shots and editing.

Anyway, his teenage daughter Kim travels overseas.  She tells her father she’s going to Paris to see the museums, but he discovers she’s really going to follow U2 around on a European Tour.  Shortly after arriving in Paris, she and her friend are taken by human traffickers.  Brian uses his skills to track the traffickers and retrieve his daughter.

There is not much of a plot besides this, and it moves at a rather quick pace.  He’s working against the clock, and he’s been trained to compartmentalize so he’s not agonizing over any of this.  But he kills and maims his way around Paris to find his daughter (granted, more noble than Bourne’s escapades in Europe).

As I lay on my bed it came to me- this was a picture of grace (granted, a stunted one).  I realized this when I reflected on the fact she didn’t deserve it.  To be rescued (yes … I’d rescue my daughter, perhaps even creating similar carnage).  She lied to her father and manipulated him.  She was also lied too by her friend who put her in such a dangerous position.  But she was essentially a spoiled, ungrateful child who disobeyed and betrayed her father and placed herself, by her selfishness, into the arms of human flotsam.

That is me.  I didn’t deserve to be rescued from the mortal danger I’d placed myself in.  Romans 5 says that Jesus died to save us while we were ungodly, sinners and enemies of God.  We do not deserve this, nor can we earn it (as Capt. Miller told Private Ryan to do).

Perhaps that is why she exclaims “you came for me!”  Maybe, while being to be sold as a sexual slave she realized how selfish she had been.  Some days I need to recapture the amazement that “He came for me!”

Unlike Brian Mills, He didn’t rescue by taking out the even more evil ones.  Oh, that will happen later.  But Jesus came to rescue by offering His life in our place.  This is why I say the redemptive theme in Taken is stunted.  Brian Mills only risked his life, and offered to pay a ransom.  He wasn’t the ransom.  Jesus was.

But, as I lay on my bed after a sin-filled, selfish day, I was reminded how undeserving I am, what grave danger I was in, and that He came for me.  Yes, a picture of grace.

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