I just finished watching The Equalizer starring Denzel Washington. It’s a movie like many in the genre.
There are bad guys and the good guy kills them all.
The bad guys are dirty cops and various levels of the Russian mafia. They make a lot of money doing bad things to everybody, but what makes them really despicable is that they do bad things to young girls. Like I said, they are bad.
Then there’s our hero–he’s good because he protects the young girls and other meeker people. Although he looks like a mild-mannered Home Depot guy (the movie uses a different name, but they ain’t fooling anybody) who likes to read books and drink tea in his spare time, he kills four armed thugs in less than 30 seconds.
We’ve seen this movie hundreds of times, the only thing in this sort of movie is if the hero dies at the end or not–always in exchange for the life and/or happiness of the former victim. I won’t tell you if Denzel survives or not since that will be the only “surprise” in this movie.
Still, I liked the movie. And I’ve liked most of the hundred that I already saw. The one with Clint or Jean Claude or Arnold or Harrison or Wesley or Steven or Bruce or Jackie. You get the idea.
We Love Justice
Why do we like these movies so much? Why do they get away with giving us the same story again and again?
It’s because we really want it to be true. We want to watch the bad people get what’s coming to them, and we want the innocent to be rescued and given their life back. We want to see justice–we need to see justice.
It’s interesting that this impulse is so strong in Western moviegoers who rarely experience the sorts of injustices that are daily fare in many other parts of the world. If experiencing justice is such a rush for us, imagine how important it is for those who actually experience the intense injustice that we only experience in the theatre.
We also know that we will never see the kind of justice we crave unless this is true.
Here is my servant whom I have chosen,
the one I love, in whom I delight;
I will put my Spirit on him,
and he will proclaim justice to the nations.
He will not quarrel or cry out;
no one will hear his voice in the streets.
A bruised reed he will not break,
and a smoldering wick he will not snuff out,
till he has brought justice through to victory.
In his name the nations will put their hope.
(Isaiah 42:1-4, see also Matthew 12:15-21)