Now this was a movie perfect for this series. Talk about shades of grey! What a great film that wound up being. Done in 1999, the film stars Sean Patrick Flannery and Norman Reedus as twin brothers who take down the seedier mob elements of their beloved Boston. They think this is their mission from God. Willem Dafoe plays the FBI agent who starts the show wanting to stop them but later has a change of heart (in a church where the priest at the confessional is at risk of being killed if he doesn’t take the boys’ side on the issue).
I’d written down something worth sharing from the film but can’t find the paper now. It was a line from the Catholic priest at their church who said something along the lines of, the worst kind of evil is done by good men who stand by and do nothing – “the indifference of good men” is how it was phrased, according to IMDB.
Instead of the guys getting caught at the finish, they kill another bad guy (in a courtroom of all places – he might have been acquitted otherwise) and the film just ends with a media outlet talking to people on the street about the McManus men who’ve eluded capture for so long and continue to strike fear in the hearts of evil doers. They did a good job showing off how many mixed reactions there would be to something like this.
Now obviously vigilantism and vendettas are not the way people ought to be solving the world’s problems. But you have to admit that this secret lust for revenge and saving the day probably helps keep superhero stories so popular for so long. I think everyone, deep down, just wants someone to do something to fix what’s wrong with society because clearly governments have no clue how to accomplish that.
Why do people become criminals in the first place? Is it because they don’t want to be honestly poor? Are gangs appealing because kids seek a sense of belonging more than they do a future? Futures require money and education, after all, and a chance at a possible career. It doesn’t take much education to get a gun.
If everyone tries to take the law into their own hands to deal out personal justice, then we’re dealing with anarchy and the real breakdown of morality. Everyone has their own measure for morality, their own measure of how right or how wrong an action is. Sure, churches and religious leaders may be able to lay out some doctrine-based guidelines but everyone’s still free to interpret the words as they see fit and, in the case of this movie, “Thou Shalt Not Kill” has been stripped from the Ten Commandments entirely as a means of keeping these guys out of heaven. The majority of the public considers them to be Saints, hence the title of the film.
Our systems are flawed. Some of our laws are stupid. Some people are innocent yet committed. Some people definitely broke some serious laws but walk free. Some police are racist and corrupt. But this is still better than letting individuals decide on an individual basis who should live and who should die. It’s shitty and it isn’t fair, but it’s the system that got built and it’s the only method that should be permitted.
It sucks, but there you have it.