Archive for the ‘ Political ’ Category

Lincoln

Abraham Lincoln.

The mere mention that name brings thoughts of the Civil War, honesty, and freedom of slaves. Oft forgotten though, is his work of the 13th Amendment, which truly granted slaves freedom. Not the Emancipation Proclamation.

This film tells the story of how Lincoln worked to pass this amendment to our constitution. It shows the reasoning behind it, the politics involved, and the opposition to it. Some democrats in the Union refused to acknowledge black people as equal in the Nation. They fight long and hard to fail the amendment, as they argue the south will never surrender with slavery abolished. The amendment will prolong the war, and worse yet, completely divide the nation past the point of repair.We see a glimpse into how Abe lived his life during this short moment in history. We see his family. We see his cabinet. And most importantly, we see his personality brilliantly captured in a manner which not only compliments his virtues, but recognizes his flaws. He is a man, serving as president, in a divided country. He is Lincoln.

Things I liked

The star of this movie is of course Lincoln, and much of the movie is spent on how he lived in every aspect of life….
– Even thought Lincoln was president of the United states of America, family always came first. In cabinet meetings his son would drop in and Lincoln think nothing of it. His wife, Mary, still grieving over the loss of Willie, puts on the mask of a happy first lady, and supports Lincoln in his decisions. She will challenge him on his thoughts, but when his mind is made, she supports him completely. When the votes were being cast, Lincoln stayed at home with his son and spent the day with him. Over and over we see him placing family priorities above everything else in this movie.

– Lincoln was not as perfect a man as many of the history books make him out to be. He was wily and shrewd and could play politics with the best of them. That was not his usual Modus Operandi however. Often he would reason and talk to someone to achieve the desired goal or viewpoint. But when necessary, he acted in ways which were quite political and manipulative. At times we see him offer jobs of patronage for yes votes. One time he flat out lies the the representative assemble, an action deemed “Impeachable” by one of his advisors. I appreciated they made Lincoln a man who lived life. Not a man larger than life.

– Finally about the portrayal of Lincoln, was his personality and how he lead others. Manipulation was a rarity by him, though he would participate in it. We do see many commendable leadership traits by Lincoln. One such trait is his use of stories to communicate points. His use of appropriate humor to defused tense situations. His grace and teaching spirit. He gave one boy a pardon for laming his horse to avoid battle because “I don’t want to hang a boy for being frightened. What good would it be for him.”His meekness as president. His ability to accomplish goals by doing things himself. All of these traits are ones which are to be commended, and while he was not perfect, should be recognized for his strengths.

In addition to Lincoln and how he related to many aspects of the 13th amendment and family, I enjoyed the given perspective of the Civil War. Often slavery is wrongly portrayed as the main factor and basis for the Civil war, which is simply not True. The Vice President of the Confederate State of America said in the movie “You can’t take away our slaves and expect a complete surrender. You take away that and you destroy our economy. Our way of life. Our power. We won’t even know who we are anymore.” 

We are shown the civil was was not mainly about slavery, but about political power and economic security. I appreciated an accurate focus of the war, not twisted and warped into something it wasn’t.

The last thing I would like to note is the quality of the movie. The videography, the lighting, the costumes, the acting, the score…. All were masterfully done. I would have no issue believing Linclon was just like the man on the screen. His mannerisms, his voice, and action were all perfectly mimicked according to historical records. It was a treat to watch and see all of these artistic fields blended together to create the picture on screen.

Things I didn’t like

The main issue I take with this movie is the profanity. There is a lot of it. Dozens misuses of God’s name are said. D—, B—–, F—, and more are used by old men, soldiers, and some riled up congressmen. Even Lincoln dishes out an S— word for some crude humor.

The movie opens with a battle scene where “the Colored Union Soldiers” are fighting Confederates. It is raining, so water has collected in many places. We see men getting beat to death with rifles, stabbed in the stomach with bayonets, stomped to death and drowned… all in the course of around two minutes. While this is not at all enjoyable to watch. It is good to be reminded no battle is glorious or should be praised, especially in the instance of this war.

We are shown a cart dripping large amounts of blood being wheeled, then multiple amputated arms and legs dumped into a pit behind the hospital.

Near the end of the movie. Lincoln goes to the last battle ground in Virginia, and we are shown the aftermath of war. Dead corpses are shown everywhere in various forms of death. Some were ripped open, guts spilling out onto the muddy ground. Some had bayonets in the back. While others where in piles behind cover, piled on top of each other. With John William’s scoring, and Mr. Lincoln’s reaction, it was enough to make you sick and tear up at the same time.

Closing Thoughts

“You can know True North. When I was a surveyor, I would align my compass to true North, The compass points you true north but does not warn you of obstacles and swamps along the way. So while you can plow through people, ideals, and goals focused on True North, without looking at your surroundings, you can wind up stuck in the swamp….” 

Lincoln says to Thaddeus Stevens about Mr. Stevens unwavering principle on the black right to freedom, vote, and more. Lincoln illustrates how while we can know we are right about something, being obnoxious about it and plowing through people with the idea is not going to get you anywhere. It is also going to get you stuck with your idea and people will not want to listen to you. How does Mr. Stevens respond? Well, you’ll have to watch it to find out. 😉
This quote stuck in my mind, because I was instantly reminded of some Christians. You know of whom I speak. 😉 How important it is to remember while we are right in following Christ and God’s word it true, that we not become arrogant in such knowledge. That we remain as gentle as a dove, yet wise as a serpent when we witness with our actions, words, and life. The movie portrayed that concept excellently, and gave me a heart check and application to implement.

“Can we choose to be born? Are we fitted to the times we’re born into? We begin with equality, that’s the origin isn’t it? That’s justice. See we’ve shown that a people can endure awful sacrifice and yet cohere.” 

Another outstanding quote from Lincoln. He asks this to a young man, while sitting in the communication room, about to send a message to Grant. While an answer never is decided, the point is made… Are we in this place and time for a purpose? As Christians, we can answer a resounding “Yes”. This makes an excellent talking point for witnessing or starting conversations about life purpose, and I intend to use it as such.

All in all. This movie is like Lincoln himself. It stands tall and true on biblical principles, history, and showing what the Civil war truly was. However, problems (which Lincoln also had) need to be recognized and not excused. These are the language and quite gruesome scenes.
If we remember anything about Lincoln portrayed in this flick, it should be his indubitable spirit and wisdom in the time into which he was fitted. He saw and felt from his deepest conviction the 13th amendment was the the first step in solve to the nation’s problems about division and slavery. And he did what ever he felt within his power as president to do get that done.

When deciding to see this movie, I’ll close with Lincoln’s advice, as my wisdom in this is lacking. He said when making decisions…. “I have been driven many times upon my knees by the overwhelming conviction that I had nowhere else to go. My own wisdom, and that of all about me, seemed insufficient for the day.” 

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The Bourne Legacy

“There was never just one.”

Serving as the fourth film in the Bourne series, this movie follows the story of a genetically modified CIA assassin named Aaron Cross who has to fight to preserve his life when he becomes the next target of his program’s leaders when they are forced to terminate their clandestine program know as “Outcome.”

Thinking that he is being a true patriot serving his country, things are going well for Cross until Jason Bourne starts causing trouble (as seen in the previous films.) With Treadstone and Blackbriar failing, Outcome’s leaders know that their program is going to be next. In order to protect themselves from scandal and having their illegal and unethical actions made public, the government is forced to obliterate the programs that they created and that includes doing away with all the assassins and operatives that they “enhanced.” This is not good news for Aaron Cross.

Will Cross be able to preserve his incredible strength and amazing problem-solving capabilities before it’s too late? or will he be burned in the government’s attempt to set fire to its dubious program? In solving these issues, Bourne Legacy follows the journey of Cross along with Marta Shearing, a scientist from the Outcome program, as they search for answers together.

The Honorable

After the enjoying the previous three Bourne films, this is worthy to join the series. Appealing to lovers of spy-flicks and adventure films, this movie is filled with practically nonstop action.

I appreciate the character of Aaron Cross almost more than Matt Damon’s portrayal of the infamous Jason Bourne in the other movies. Albeit, he is still a government-commissioned assassin, but he didn’t seem to be as callous and cold as Bourne. Jason Bourne is a deeper and better-developed character, by far, but Aaron Cross was much more accessible and somewhat easier to relate to. Cross displays many heroic qualities and, even though his motives were somewhat tainted by selfish reasons, he does put himself at risk to aid Marta who is also a victim of Outcome’s demise.

In like manner, even though Marta really does need Cross’s protection in an earlier part of the story, she does stand by him and aid him in a later instance, even when she doesn’t have to. Both of them show loyalty and a desire to help the other.

Another refreshing aspect of the film that is worth noting is the absence of any romantic or intimate content. It’s rare to find movies like that today and I enjoyed being able to just enjoy the spy-story without having to worry about anything inappropriate or romantic being added in.

The director of this movie opted to set the story simultaneously with Bourne Ultimatum, the third film in the series. As a result, both stories overlap in intriguing ways. I enjoyed this approach to telling Cross’s story, but it is worth realizing that this would make Legacy confusing for those who haven’t previously seen the other Bourne films.

The Corrupt

The MPAA rated this film PG13 for “violence and action sequences.”

This film contains quite a bit of profanity (like uses of “s-“, “h-“, “s.o.b”, etc.) and taking the Lord’s name in vain, so that’s something to be mindful of. One character remarks on how she mistakenly believed another character to be homosexual.

Violence is heavily saturated throughout this film. Aaron Cross is a deadly assassin and he acts like it. People are killed in brutal ways during the entire course of the movie. One scene includes someone murdering people who are locked in a room with him. Cross fights with wolves and all through the film many of the characters show no mercy as violence is acted out again and again. Cruel and brutal combat tactics are used. Needles are prevalent and Cross cuts himself open in order to remove a tracking beacon from his body. Explosions, crashes, gun fights, murder, and hand-to-hand combat make up the majority of this movie.

Because these assassins are “enhanced,” they have a dependence upon the pills and drugs that provide them with their incredible physical and mental strength. A great majority of this film is spent with Cross pursuing those drugs in order to obtain them in any way necessary; no matter the cost.

Does the end justify the means? According Outcome’s leader, who tells Cross, “Do you know what a sin eater is? We take the sin and bury it down deep so the rest of the world can live pure” and “We are morally indefensible and absolutely necessary” it does. Nevertheless, morality must be taken into account and I strongly disagree with these quotes. The end never justifies the means if those means are unethical, sinful, and cruel.

Another thing that disappointed me about Bourne Legacy was the lack of emotional connection to the characters. We are provided with a few vague details about Cross’s past, but not enough to really feel for who he was or care about who he is becoming. It’s a thriller, filled with intellectual spy-games; it’s not a drama. It’s action-oriented; not character-focused. Even still, at times, the action scenes became drawn-out ordeals that grew mundane by their excessive length. After the stereotypical road chase scene, I will admit that I was relieved that it was finally over.

Oh, and this film is not going to give you an ending; let alone a satisfactory one. To be perfectly honest, I was sorely disappointed by how anti-climatic the end was.

The Art

Even if Bourne Legacy isn’t necessary one of best films that I’ve seen, the acting, special effects, and cinematography are still worth being complimented. As doubtful as I was about a Bourne film without Matt Damon, Jeremy Renner did an fantastic job as Aaron Cross. He fit the part perfectly and brought a lot of personality to his character. The special effects and stunts were incredible and, even though the cinematography was somewhat fast-paced and jumpy at times, it worked well in the film and helped in creating the sense of panic that matched the mood in the film.

The story-telling technique used in Legacy differs from the previous Bourne films. Especially in Bourne Identity when the views take a mental journey with Jason Bourne. We share in his confusion and figure out his identity along with him. Unlike this approach, in Legacy, we know more about what’s going on. We know more than Cross does so we have more of an outsider’s perspective. Each way has its pros and cons and it really comes down to what the individual viewer prefers.

With the three previous Bourne films scored by John Powell, Legacy differs from the series by instead having a soundtrack composed by James Newton Howard. The music is diverse and well-rounded with some more synth-heavy tracks along with tracks with more tender strains that reminded me of the first film, Bourne Identity. In my personal opinion, the score didn’t become a favorite, but it does suit the film well and it was enjoyable to listen to.

To Conclude

I enjoyed Bourne Legacy; it was an entertaining movie filled with spy-action and government conspiracies. If you enjoyed the first three Bourne movies, then you would probably like this one as well. Despite all of that though, I would not recommend it to everyone due to the violent content and all of the blurred gray areas between right and wrong and the unclear view of morality that the writers of the film failed to address.

Jimmy Valiant: Scions of Danger

Jimmy Valiant PosterYoung men look up to heroes. In days of old, the heroes of young men were the godly older men who had come before them, and before their fathers. Men like the apostle Paul, George Washington, Winston Churchill, Stonewall Jackson, and many others. All flawed men (heroes tend to be that way), but also good men. Men who stood for what was right against great odds.

Sadly, in the past few years, we’ve seen a change in heroes. Now, the “heroes” this generation looks up to are sports figures, actors, musicians, and even fictional characters from popular films. These people tend to give young men a false sense of heroism, especially when you consider that they often live very immoral live driven by pride, lust, and greed.

Enter Jimmy Valiant. He’s flawed, but then again, we all are. And while he starts out living for himself, throughout the film he grows to realize that it is not his duty to deal out God’s judgment on all his foes, but that vengeance truly is God’s.

Action, Adventure, and Real Heroes

As I mentioned earlier, heroes have been going downhill for quite some time, and there’s no better place to see that than in the movie theater. Independent Christian Filmmakers have made great strides in many areas and genres, but one genre that we haven’t fully attacked yet is the action/thriller film. As a young man, I know that is one of the film genres that speaks strongest to men. Sure, a good love story can be inspiring (particularly to you ladies out there), but quite frankly, I’d rather see a good hero take out the evil bad guys any day. Apparently, Nathaniel Darnell feels the same way.

And thus, Jimmy Valiant was born. Both Nathaniel Darnell and his co-producer, Nathan Barns, are dedicated to raising the bar for Independent Christian Filmmaking and discipling young men through the action/thriller genre. Jimmy Valiant: Scions of Danger is their first step into that arena.

True Heroism

The message of this film is that true heroism starts with the heart. As he goes through this exciting adventure, Jimmy Valiant learns that he cannot be a law unto himself, because ultimately, God is the one who rules this world and punishes evil doers.

Besides having several excellent themes, Jimmy Valiant: Scions of Danger, is also completely clean. No unwholesome language, no immorality, no gratuitous violence (more on that later), nothing to offend! The film is also well done technically speaking, with the visual effects from The Effects Forge being especially good.

There will always be bad guys

Quite frankly, there’s very little for me to say against the film. That’s refreshing! I’ve watched so many films that when I get to this section, the hard part is choosing what to say and what to gloss over, but with Jimmy Valiant, I almost left this section out!

I will mention however, that there is a bit of violence and some families may be uncomfortable with it, especially if they have young children. It’s not over-the-top, nor is it gratuitous, but this is an action film, and some people do get beat up, and at least one is killed.

The only other thing I’ll mentions is this: keep in mind that this film is actually a pilot episode for a 13-episode series that will be produced if enough interest and funding can be generated. As such, it can be a bit rough around the edges at times, and some of my family found the plot a bit hard to follow. Hopefully this will change when the full series is released and the story is expanded.

End Game

Overall, this was a good action film that I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend to action lovers everywhere. The story was well-paced, the fight sequences believable, and the dialogue completely clean! It can be streamed online for only $3.99 or bought on DVD for $12* from Persevero Films.


*If you’re thinking about grabbing the DVD, you might want to wait a bit. I’ve heard rumors that a special edition DVD is going to be released soon, complete with behind-the-scenes videos, a director’s commentary, and deleted scenes!