Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Training Daybreakers - an Ethan Hawke double feature

From Twilight to Daybreakers

A few months ago I went to see Twilight: New Moon. Passable fare, the Romeo and Juliet allusions were a little too pointed, I thought, but hey, I'm not the target audience. At a critical moment, the "emotional climax" of the film, where Edward is saved from destruction by Bella's intervention, the sound completely went out in the theater. Though it came back on 3 minutes later, I and a few others were so miffed we asked for some rainchecks. The manager kindly agreed and so I found myself, six weeks later using my free pass from a chic-flick version of vampires, where they are SO beautiful they cannot let themselves be seen in sunlight, to go see a far darker and more legendarily accurate version of them, where sunlight blows the nasty bloodsuckers to itty-bitty bits. To wit, I saw Daybreakers.

Now that's what you call trading up! :D

Hawke is a Bat?
Ethan Hawke often plays the quiet guy who's trying to beat the system he's stuck within. From Gattaca, to Training Day, to Daybreakers, he keeps getting cast as a pretty face who gets a chance to change the world he lives in.

I like him, I've found out. He touches that nerve of every decent guy who wants to work with the people he's put with and has to be taught [usually the hard way] that not everyone is as decent as he is. If they ever do a remake of Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, they should cast him in the role of Mr. Smith.

Now, I saw Daybreakers about three weeks ago and thought it well represented the terrible lengths we humans could or would go to keep alive. The movie is about vampirism infecting the vast majority of humanity and by result, humans become endangered as they are hunted into extinction for their blood. Ethan Hwake has said in an interview that he thinks the metaphor of how we are overusing our planet's resources is clear-cut in the movie. That may be so, but what I saw was that even when salvation is offered - a cure IS found for the vampirism, BTW - we blood-lusting humans won't give it up.

We love the dark side of things. We won't go into the light. Even if it is for our good.

It is just as John wrote about humanity neary 2000 years ago. See if you think it is still accurate:

John 3:19-20
This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but men loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil.

Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that his deeds will be exposed.


If you are familiar with that scripture, you can still be shocked when you find people who embrace dangerous lifestyles instead of turning to Christ and God the Father to save them, to have the Holy Spirit make them "new creatures."

They think they are losing control. In fact, they are. They are giving control over to God - but they were SLAVES to whatever they were chasing. In this movie, its blood - but it could just as easily be money, sex, drugs, power, prestige...

And folks, what we chase after with all our heart mind and soul is what we worship.

In Twilight: New Moon, Bella worships Edward and he worships her. While many a teen girl may swoon with pleasure of such a man, he cannot exist - not for more than a season.

A vampire has to have blood to live. Human blood. In other words, a human sacrifice.

In Daybreakers, the price for immortality is clear: de-humanization and a descent into madness. You become a demon.

In Twilight: New Moon, as a vampire, you'd just matriculate again and again and again, graduating from one high school after another. For some, that WOULD be hell on Earth!

In Training Day, which I saw just last night, Ethan Hawke's character is offered the chance to "join up with the Big Boys" in the narcotics Unit. Only one slight problem: his mentor is a corrupt as the men he deals with. And yes, he is charming and yes he has power to persuade and to manipulate and yes, there is much allurement to go into the darkness and stop fighting a corrupt system that lets so many real criminals go free.

The offer: money, power, prestige, and lots of cash snagged from drug busts.

The price: your soul.

We are told to guard our hearts in the Bible, according to Proverbs 4:23: "Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life."

In watching and comparing the PG-13 Twilight: New Moon to the rated R Daybreakers, I realized something.

The movie with all the violence, gore and bloodshed was safer for my heart than the one with the girl pining for a glorified leech.

In one I was warned of the angers of self-indulgence; in the other, I was to say "Blood-drinking immortals are REALLY nice people - why they've been misconstrued, is all!"

Oh silly - I know its all fiction - but the message that "love is god, not God is love" has taken center stage.

You see, in its romanticism of Bella and Edward's relationship, there is a great danger to girls watching it. Friends and family matter not - only the all-consuming desire for the beloved - who is not human.

Having experienced such 'love affairs', I know how they feel. When in gear, they are a stunning high. When they are over, you feel nearly suicidal. You are angry at them, at yourself and even at God (He must be to blame for separating you two!!).

The fact is, while we may try to find someone to love us, Someone already has: Jesus.

If we are going to leave behind the darker parts of human nature, we need to ask for the light to shine on us and quench our thirst, to kill our co-dependency and greed for more.

And just for the fun of it, picture that Jesus is Ethan Hawke and the Woman at the Well is Salma Hayek in the following scene:

John 4:7-14
When a Samaritan woman came to draw water, Jesus said to her, "Will you give me a drink?" (His disciples had gone into the town to buy food.)

The Samaritan woman said to him, "You are a Jew and I am a Samaritan woman. How can you ask me for a drink?" (For Jews do not associate with Samaritans.)

Jesus answered her, "If you knew the gift of God and who it is that asks you for a drink, you would have asked him and he would have given you living water."

"Sir," the woman said, "you have nothing to draw with and the well is deep. Where can you get this living water? Are you greater than our father Jacob, who gave us the well and drank from it himself, as did also his sons and his flocks and herds?"

Jesus answered, "Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give him will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life."


Bold promises - from a bold God.

A God willing to beocme a frail man and suffer with us, to give His very lifeblood to make us immortals.

Amen.

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