A revenge story with redemption. A newly released ex-con, played by Dwayne Johnson, seeks to kill the men who killed his brother, while being tracked by a young assassin and a corrupt cop. It’s a kill by numbers formula that has a unique spiritual twist about forgiveness and redemption.
When the ex-con, Driver, gets to his last guy to kill, he turns out to be someone who became a Christian preacher and is now preaching in a revival tent like environment. When Driver gets him in his sights, the preacher talks about repentance and how he’s atoning for what he’s done with a changed life. But when the preacher is about to be shot dead, he looks the killer in the eye and asks for forgiveness for what he did. He all but accepts his fate as punishment for his actions (this could have been more clear). Driver is confronted for the first time with grace and real redemption that revenge cannot satisfy. Driver decides not to kill the preacher and ends up in the tent before God wondering what repentance means for him.
This movie has all the hallmarks of a “Christian movie” in terms of genre: A preacher telling a sinner to forgive, redemption in a sanctuary while looking up at a cross, hearing a gospel sermon on the radio. The difference is of course that this movie showed the gritty violent reality of revenge, so that when the church redemption occurs, it is not cliché, simply because the one extreme of blood revenge and violent death is countered by the equal extreme of blood atonement and salvation. The redemption is powerful and rings true because the evil is portrayed with clarity. Because Christian movies are too afraid to show sin as it really is, they become cliché ridden formulas of “preaching” that does not ring true like this movie does.
Unfortunately, the movie becomes morally incoherent in the end because, after Driver spares the preacher and survives being killed by the corrupt cop who started it all, Driver still ends up shooting that corrupt cop with revenge rather than pure self-defense. So a contradictory portrait is displayed in perpetuating the very revenge Driver was supposed to be redeemed from. A bit unsatisfying ending.
Low budget Sci-fi action rip off of Independence Day meets Cloverfield. A group of friends and acquaintances seek to stay alive when Los Angeles is invaded by alien space ships who seek out all humans to suck their brains out for energy. This movie seems to illustrate the emptiness and lack of meaning that many young filmmakers have. They come up with a “cool” idea about aliens invading and a “cool” visual chase film about survival, only to fall apart narratively at the end, which seems to reflect their own lack of depth or meaning to draw from in their own worldview. If they are taught there is no real transcendent meaning, then they have nothing to really say in their stories.
In this case, the hero and heroine, after spending an hour and a half trying with futility to stay free from the invaders, are finally sucked up into a big space ship, only to discover that the aliens are using human brains to feed on and in some cases inhabit their dying bodies. So, the hero’s brain becomes a part of some alien who then recognizes the heroine about to be eaten alive, and he then saves her from being chomped — for the moment. And that’s how it ends. What the…? In the trailers to the movie, they showed TV news clips (not in the movie that I remember) that editorialized that this invasion must be how the Indians felt when the bad evil Europeans invaded their land and took it over. A movie that starts out with a politically correct theme of anti-colonialism, ends up fizzling like a kid who started out real excited making up a story and then ran out of steam near the end when he realized he hadn’t thought it through to the end.
In this found footage horror sequel, we see a clever new version of the first story, but set as a prequel/sequel. In other words, this story starts before the first movie in time, intersects with it and finishes after it. This is the story of the first movie’s Katie’s sister, Kristi, who becomes plagued by a demon just as her sister was. It turns out they had occult problems in their family past and though they are separated by 60 miles or so, there are demons who want Kristi’s son as some kind of ransom to stop a curse on their family. That is how the two stories are tied together. When the demon possesses Katie in the first movie and she leaves, she is going to Kristi’s house to help get the little boy.
The new gimmick in this found footage story is that they put up security cameras around the house and so we are able to see a multiple angle cut version of the story, rather than one single camera as in the first movie.
The worldview of this story is confused and incoherent. The spiritual idea in the first movie was that Micah and Katie reject the power of the cross of Christ before they are overtaken by the demon. The idea being that when you reject God, you have no spiritual power or authority to fight demonic evil. So in this movie, Kristi’s husband actually does the opposite; he finds a cross and uses it on Kristi’s demon possessed head to exorcise her. And it works! And we see the flip side redemption of the lost redemption in the first movie. But then the problem occurs when, after this apparent victory, Katie shows up possessed by her demon and kills both Kristi and her husband and takes the boy. So, the very spiritual source of power over evil is first shown to provide victory and then winds up being useless in a contradictory and incoherent ending to the story.