Thursday, August 20, 2015

The Man from UNCLE & Brothers from Another Mother

"Did you get him?"
"Of course I did cowboy.
But you need silver bullets
for critics."
So I had to run to see the matinee of The Man from UNCLE. Luckily, there were about 20 minutes of previews and I got seated just in time to see one and then the movie started. Cold War, East Berlin, a daring escape, a crazy pursuer and we are off and running.

I loved the classy and forthright Americanism of Henry Cavill's Napoleon Solo. I loved the raw power and rage of Armie Hammer's Illya Kuryakin. These are re-imaginings no doubt about it. Like Tom Cruise's Mission: Impossible franchise, we are not getting the same personas in the characters, but we are getting something cool and sharp and thrilling.

It had great moments of reverse illumination [the viewer sees the real reason for a certain actions a few seconds AFTER the event begins rolling in a different direction] that turned what could have been a paint by numbers action flick into a true work of art. Wisely, we even blow through or seem to ignore entire action set pieces to emphasize the characters and the story.

You know how action films set up, right? A conflict, a fight is about to start, we pan back and then we watch the fight. Well, here that formula, a staple of all such films, is modified. In one case we do not even see the fight [but we easily know who wins], in another, a boat chase with machine guns firing, a sympathetic character decides to not help but rather enjoy an impromptu meal [they help soon after of course].

Finally, in a huge scene of assaulting a compound, we are treated with a moving collage of action, comic book page styled, where we get to see four or five points of view at once, allowing us to know how everything happened, in less than 30 seconds.

SPOILER ALERT SPOILER ALERT SPOILER ALERT 

OK, you were warned.

Obviously, being on different sides in the Cold War, with Kennedy vs. Khrushchev in the background, you knew that there would be lethal tension between our heroes, even at the end.

What saves them from having to kill each other is Solo's quick thinking and sacrifice: he not only gives Kuryakin a gift [returning an item previous lost to bad guys], he also destroys the very object [a nuclear secret] they were chasing, removing any later threat to the Soviets from America.

He's a traitor! says my patriotic heart. It was the right thing to do, says my Christian spirit. Beautiful even.

 The spirit is right, of course. And, in this case, no harm done. The stalemate can continue and many lives may be saved simply for that fact.

Have we seen this before? Such brotherly love across political lines, and I mean deadly political lines? Oh yeah. David and Jonathan, man. David and Jonathan.

You see, as I shared yesterday, David is moving by talent up the ranks. He killed Goliath; he killed double his quota of Phillistines; he's married into the royal family, now. But hold on: King Saul already has a son. Jonathan's an excellent warrior, too. I mean, this guy is brave and well-trained, well-groomed and should be the next king.

Jonathan forfeits it. That's right. He forfeits his princedom to David. He has a great faith in the God who annointed David and sees how his father is trying to control everything, so he does something crazy and awesome. I mean, folks, this is like a geek giving all his comics to his best friend. This is like your aunt making you the sole heir to her fortune. This is epic giving:
1 Samuel 18:3,4
And Jonathan made a covenant with David because he loved him as himself. Jonathan took off the robe he was wearing and gave it to David, along with his tunic, and even his sword, his bow and his belt.
Whoa. later on, in 1 Samuel 20:12-16, Jonathan says it frankly:
12 Then Jonathan said to David, “I swear by the Lord, the God of Israel, that I will surely sound out my father by this time the day after tomorrow! If he is favorably disposed toward you, will I not send you word and let you know? 13 But if my father intends to harm you, may the Lord deal with Jonathan, be it ever so severely, if I do not let you know and send you away in peace. May the Lord be with you as he has been with my father.

14 But show me unfailing kindness like the Lord’s kindness as long as I live, so that I may not be killed, 15 and do not ever cut off your kindness from my family—not even when the Lord has cut off every one of David’s enemies from the face of the earth.”

16 So Jonathan made a covenant with the house of David, saying, “May the Lord call David’s enemies to account.” 17 And Jonathan had David reaffirm his oath out of love for him, because he loved him as he loved himself.
You see the problem and the parallel? Jonathan knows his dad is acting weird--and he might try to kill David. Jonathan however fears God more than his dad, so he sides with David. He goes to spy FOR David, and he finds out the ugly truth: he's either going to have to help kill his friend or be killed by his dad, the authority. Like Solo and Kuraykin, the situation is untenable. There is only one right resolution: Jonathan helps David escape. He lies to his superior [his Dad, the King] because his superior is wrong and evil and full of fear and hate.

What is so sad, is that Jonathan has such a noble heart, he still serves his dad, King Saul loyally, otherwise. He even dies fighting at his side, while David is hiding in enemy territory. But he did not die on the inside. He loved the servant of God and gave him all the help he could. He loved him like a brother, even though he should have hated him for his threat to his future.

That is one of the reasons The Man from UNCLE was satisfying with such a light script. While we did see a lot of classy places, beautiful people and cool action with funny lines, we also saw brothers from another mother agree to be good to each other. To help each other. To watch each other's backs. To save each other's lives. Because...

...well because...

 ...you know...

 Otherwise, it would be bad form. Can't have that, you know?

Go see The Man from UNCLE and keep in mind that men at war with each other, may, by God's grace, become brothers in arms.

Amen.

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