Collateral

Recommended with extreme caution. This is a profound film. From Last of the Mohicans to The Insider, to Heat, and now to Collateral Michael Mann really picks well-written and thought out scripts to direct and brings them to life with zest and grit. In the postmodern situation that we find ourselves in, moral relativity is the dominant philosophy of ethics. If there is no meaning in life, if all is reducible to chance, then there is no ultimate right and wrong. All our sentiments of outrage at anything at all being wrong are merely conditioned responses or emotionally constructed subjective values that we have no right to impose on others. In this environment, I think the most powerful movies to cut through that kind of pomo mind clutter, that kind of mental pollution, are thrillers. Thrillers like this take that belief or relativism to its logical conclusion and show you the kind of person that philosophy creates when lived to its CONSISTENT CONCLUSION. It shows in an intuitive or emotional gut reaction way that EVIL IS REAL, that there really are evil people and they deserve to die. The only reason most atheists are not insane or monsters of cruelty, the only reason any of them believe in any kind of right and wrong, is because they are NOT being consistent with their beliefs. They maintain a residue of Christianity that haunts their very ability to reason at all. They believe there is no right and wrong while protesting the “wrongness” of environmental pollution, nuclear arms, and animal experimentation. They believe there are no such things as absolute standards, yet they believe in women’s “rights” and children’s “rights,” and civil “rights.” They cut their own throats and try to yell fowl at Christians and other moralists. This movie is a breath of fresh moral air. But it is rather brutal, and not for the squeamish. Tom Cruise is a hitman that hijacks cabbie Jamie Fox to take him around LA so he can pull off five hits for the evening. Jamie is the talker who has failed to move on his dreams of starting his own business for 12 years. As Cruise takes him through the night, he forces Jamie to confront his own lack of action in life. Cruise’s “gusto living” of killing is justified by an appeal to evolution and to the fact that life is meaningless and absurd. He says something to the effect that we are all insignificant specs of dust on a huge spinning ball in an insignificant corner of a universe of matter in motion. The movie brings out the alienation and utter despair of modern existence in a parable retelling of a true story by the hitman: A commuter on the metro link train died and rode around all day on the train without anyone noticing. Boy, does that picture our alienated society or what? Yet, why should we complain? If we are ultimately just atoms in collision evolving through change, then there is no transcendence to connect us, to give some kind of meaning to our lives and justify a human value. If we have no transcendent value, then we cannot be appalled by the destruction of human life. It truly is survival of the fittest, may the strongest man win. Again, the Will to Power. What I loved about this film was that through facing death, real brutal death, we, with the cabbie, are jolted into finding the real meaning in life and doing something about it, rather than just existing with our untried dreams. “Seize the day” has no value unless there is something worthy of seizing, and there can be nothing worthy of seizing in an atheistic evolutionary worldview of alienated matter in motion. Appeals to neo-evolutionary psychology of “what is best for the herd” fall flat on the consistent conclusion of the evolutionary ultimacy of atoms. If reality is ultimately reducible to atoms in motion, then “herd protection,” indeed, survival itself, is simply a convenient subjective emotional fiction.

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