This week I watched Fast & Furious 6 in theaters. It was predictable, cliche and I loved it. (Spoiler alert!)
However, after finishing the film, there were several things that kind of bothered me. Firstly, what is the deal with Vin Diesal? Seriously, the guy flies through mid-air on the highway, catches his love interest like some white V-neck superhero and manages to survive? Oh, and don’t forget the ending scene where he strolls out of a flipping car and a burning airplane like it’s no big deal. But the beautiful, European Gisele who chooses to jump off a car hovering above an army base runway to protect her Asian boyfriend, Han, dies just like that?
Secondly, did the Rock get even bigger? His body doesn’t even look real anymore…
Thirdly, am I just watching criminals catch even worse criminals?
Vin Diesal (Dominic Toretto) and his crew all seem like funny, entertaining people who seem like a blast to hang out with on the weekend. They also live by the motto of “family” and have people they care about and want to protect. As an audience member, I find myself completely falling for them and rooting for them to win against the antagonists. But oh wait, did I miss something here? These are the same people who engage in high-speed racing, hijackings, and steal millions of dollars throughout the entire Fast & Furious series.
Oh wow, they help the police catch some big-time criminals! They’re not actually ‘bad guys’! They’re ‘good guys’! Go Dom and his crew! Catch the real ‘bad guys’ and then take tonnes of money and buy more shiny, fast cars!
This happens often times in movies (or maybe in real life as well)- the allegedly ‘bad guy’ commits one kind act in the middle of the movie and all of a sudden our judgement of this character changes drastically. We disregard any past sins they’ve committed.
Take the film, The Lives of Others (2006) for example. This film is about Gerd Wiesler, a secret Stasi officer in East Berlin during 1984 who is under orders to spy on a playwright. Stasi is short for the Ministry of State Security and is known as one of the most effective and efficient secret police groups in the world. In the film, Wiesler is described to be “a highly skilled officer of the Stasi, a proud, zealous, disciplined and entirely cold-blooded professional… working anonymously and tirelessly, convinced that his efforts are building a better Socialist society” (IMDb).
There’s one scene where a small boy holding a ball enters the same elevator as Wiesler. The boy asks Wiesler if he works for the Stasi. He informs Wiesler that his father told him that the Stasi are bad men who put people in prison. If you know anything about Nazism and the Third Reich, you’d already know how the system operates. People who are against the Nazi party and explicitly express criticism or opposition such as the boy’s father, would immediately be arrested and taken away. Wiesler begins to ask the little boy what his father’s name is, but ultimately stops himself and instead asks what the boy named his ball. This event acts as a turning point for Wiesler in his character development. From then on he begins questioning his duties, his orders, and whether or not his actions are actually contributing to a better society in Germany. Basically, he goes from being a ‘bad guy’ to a ‘good guy’.
What about the movie, Avatar (2009)? We cheer for Jake Sully in his giant, blue Avatar and all the other native Avatar tribes as they perpetrate into war with the greedy, human race in a 3 hour long film that seems to be a space-themed remake of Pocahontas. But as an audience, we do not see these scenes as some kind of human horror movie where an alien species kill off our soldiers… not initially, at least. Inside, we are happy that Jake has switched to the Avatar side because they seem to be the ‘good guys’ in the movie.
We eat it up. We love the whole “good-triumphs-over-evil” plot. We don’t hesitate to give the main character a second chance to be someone ‘good’ if they’re not at first. Oh, but maybe not the antagonist. We don’t know enough about their life story yet to trust them with a second chance, or believe that they actually want to be a ‘better’ person.
I am aware that in life there is no distinct line between good and evil. It’s all about perception and how the situation affects you individually. A person can do a good deed one second and a bad deed in another. The same act that you find out of kindness may be an act of malice to someone else.
I guess it’s impossible for everybody to be happy in a single moment. Isn’t that a little pessimistic?
By the way, Vin Diesal’s voice is really nice. Paul Walker’s face is nice too.
“The reason for evil in the world is that people are not able to tell their stories.”
― C.G. Jung