Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Doing What's Right No Matter the Cost

I recently saw the movie Wanted. The physics were RIDICULOUSLY BAD, honestly this movie makes the original Richard Donner Superman (complete with turning the earth backwards to reverse time) seem like it was written by a physicist. But that's not what struck me about it. By all accounts the graphic novel of Wanted was meant as a legitimate Elseworlds pitch much like Watchmen. The idea was kind of a reverse Kingdom Come, the villains won the war and their costumes became something that was just a relic of the past.

The filmmakers went to a lot of trouble to make it much less morally ambiguous than the comic. They were assassins but they took their hits from a list written by fate. The protagonist Wesly Gibson resists blindly following the list and killing who it says at first until Fox, his mentor who showed a bit of a romantic interest in him , tells him an anecdote of her past. Her father was a tough judge who was executed by a hitman who made her watch and branded her with his mark. This hitman was assigned as a target to the order of assassins the two belong to weeks before her father was kill. Fox never hesitates and follows every order she's given because she knows it's just that important.

The big turn to the plot is that Gibson is sent after the wrong man. The target defected from the Fraternity, but he was justified in doing so. The leader of his branch of the group found his own name on a kill order and hid it, at which point he started selling his services and making up his own targets.

When this is finally revealed he tells all his underlings that not only was his name on a kill order, but each one had their own as well. The leader assumed the Fraternity would go on in a new and corrupt fashion, selling their services to the highest bidders and ignoring any inconvenient kill orders. Fox decides she'll have none of this and in a spectacular fashion she carries out as many kill orders as she can on her colleagues and finally herself.

I found this dedication to a principle, no matter what it actually was, very laudable.

It reminded me of another movie called Frailty. It was the story of a father who is convinced he is on a mission from God to destroy demons who look exactly like normal people. He does so using a pair of gloves and an ax which his visions lead him to, and gets his orders from a mystical list of names that just comes to him.

The story is told from the point of view of the eldest son who is dismayed to see his father executing innocent people regularly. That is until you find out that this son was actually one of the demons he would later be called on to destroy, who simply "hadn't made the list yet."

Again, you could say it's total mysticism and dedication to a questionable or even evil idea, but I have a respect any person that dedicated to their ideals. Willing to stick to them even when they seemingly are working against them. I can't count the number of times I was asked "where my $200,000 was" during the election when I mentioned that I wasn't voting for Barak Obama. The truth of the matter is that by not voting for him I'm avoiding getting a government handout, but the very selfish reason I was against this because I value the freedom that would be lost with such policies more than any concrete thing which could be offered to me.

Sometimes I'm very disturbed to think of what would happen if these people had lived during the time of slavery. "Are you just hellbent on giving up free labor?" "Why would you want to give up your property?"

So you'll forgive me for admiring people who are so dedicated to their ideals that they'll follow them even if it seemingly leads to something bad for them. It leads to something bad, but to the person willing to go that far, the alternative would be much worse.