Sci-fi, 106 Minutes, 2011
First, this was very good. The acting, the pacing, the script – all very good. Matt Damon [IMDB] is as likable as ever, Emily Blunt [IMDB] is insanely hot and who doesn’t like to see John Slattery [IMDB] wandering around? Do not let the following prevent you from seeing this film!
I’m going to spoil quite a bit of this movie. Starting… now.
The film explores a world where a supernaturally advanced agency runs our lives and forces them into the mold they’ve predetermined. Matt Damon discovers this and fights throughout the film to change his destiny and be with the woman he loves. The main problem is that it’s really, insanely clear that the agency at work is God – they call him “the Chairman”. Not a specific god, mind you, but the silly all-encompassing “you know him by many names” god.
One of the agents explains things with this speech:
We actually tried Free Will before. After taking you from hunting and gathering to the height of the Roman Empire we stepped back to see how you’d do on your own. You gave us the Dark Ages for five centuries… until finally we decided we should come back in. The Chairman thought maybe we just needed to do a better job of teaching you how to ride a bike before taking the training wheels off again. So we gave you the Renaissance, the Enlightenment, the Scientific Revolution. For six hundred years we taught you to control your impulses with reason, then in 1910 we stepped back. Within fifty years, you’d brought us World War I, the Depression, Fascism, the Holocaust and capped it off by bringing the entire planet to the brink of destruction in the Cuban Missile Crisis. At that point a decision was taken to step back in again before you did something that even we couldn’t fix.
Really chairman? So when the all-powerful and good Chairman was in charge we had the Roman empire… that little time where nearly all advanced culture in the Western hemisphere was under the dictatorial rule of often crazy italians who considered everybody that wasn’t italian slaves. Remember how they spent their weekends forcing people to eviscerate each other? Weren’t those good times!
Then you handed it over to us… and somehow we inflicted millions with the bubonic plague and allowed the Catholic Church – using the remaining power from the Roman empire you built, by the way – to prevent any meaningful progress for 500 years. But then you stepped in and gave us the Renaissance! We got some great art and science – and Europeans were able to commit genocide on multiple continents and enslave pretty much anything they didn’t kill.
Then you set up an interconnected web of treaties so incredibly fragile that the assassination of a minor diplomat could plunge the world into war. Then you, you ballsy fucker, “stepped back” and blamed us for everything else. Oh, and throughout all of this you apparently forgot all about the Eastern Hemisphere.
These are the reasons you use to completely and repeatedly destroy any hope for happiness than our characters might have. Until, of course the very (very) end where finally you decide, “oh hell, I guess I’ll just change things around.” Basically the movie spends 95 minutes telling and showing us what an unbelievable prick God is then, in the last three minutes, makes nice-nice.
My recommendation is to mute the volumne during that speech and enjoy the movie.