Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Destiny's Commander

So theoretically I’ll be writing about relatively new things. For example, I’ll probably post something about the new Star Trek movie soon enough, since I saw that recently. (It was awesome, of course.) Realistically, though, I’ll be writing about whatever inspires me to write, as long as I haven’t done so before. And since I’m still sorting through my thoughts on the Star Trek movie, I’ll have to resort to the movie Wanted, which I also saw for the first time last weekend despite it not being new.

For those who haven’t seen the movie, the basic idea is that there’s the secret society of assassins that preserve the balance of history and are directed by fate. Or something like that, I don’t think the plot was the strong point of the movie. Especially not after blatantly ripping off one of the oldest plot twists in history: “No, I didn’t kill your father, I am your father” and so on.

… Oh yeah. There may be spoilers for the plot of the movie in here. Should I have gotten to that warning earlier?

At any rate. Despite the plot not really being the movie’s strong point (I would have to give that role to the crazy things they were doing with the large amounts of weaponry they all possessed, or to Angelina Jolie), I’m going to tear apart the motivations of the heroes and villains anyway, for two reasons. One is because it’s kind of the point, that I can find lessons related to the real world even in a movie that maybe isn’t the most plot-heavy one out there. And two is because there’s nothing I love more than mercilessly mocking the rampant stupidity of your standard movie heroes and villains. (Well, okay, maybe video games or anime or… never mind.)

You see, the main character of the movie is your standard office drone who feels like his life is worth nothing and that he has no control over it, pointless as it is. About the only thing special about him, from his perspective, is that he’s got this weird anxiety condition that requires medication to control. And, of course, that’s not a good special condition that helps his self-esteem any.

The impetus that drags him out of that state is the aforementioned secret society of assassins. The leader of whom explains to him a few things, namely that his little anxiety issue isn’t a bad thing at all; rather, it allows him to do insane things (like, oh, shoot the wings off of a fly). Also that this could be controlled and directed to his benefit, and that his father was killed by a former member of this society that went rogue. He’s also the guy who controls the society and is the only one who interprets the fabric produced by this “Loom of Fate” that directs who the society is going to kill.

Putting aside the insanity of allowing imperfections in the fabric that a loom produces to direct assassinations for a moment, it would appear that all the power so far is with the society. That the leader of this society, to throw in the obligatory reference to the title of this post, has the power to command destiny. He reads the prophecies and the commands from fate (from a loom… urge to mock the ridiculous nature of this plot rising) and directs his subordinates to carry them out.

However, this gives one person all of the power. And in the most original plot twist ever, it turns out that that old adage about power corrupting was right all along. The leader of the assassins wasn’t acting on the orders of fate (from a loom… no, I’m not letting that rest) after all, but faking the orders to carry out assassinations for money or, as far as I can tell, for his own personal enjoyment.

That wasn’t the entire story though; he made a lot of noise near the end of the movie about being able to direct the course of history. And you know, he has a point. Barring the United States with its effective system of succession of leadership, assassinations have usually caused no small amount of a stir when they’ve been carried out, potentially altering the course of history. We can’t be sure, of course, since we have no idea what would have happened otherwise.

Besides, assassination isn’t really a tool of fate, and being a “thug that can bend bullets” (the hero’s characterization of the villain) doesn’t make you destiny’s commander. The destiny of a person will always remain in the hands of that person. People have the ultimate command over their own actions, and short of physical force, that command cannot be taken away. Sure, a person can be killed, but that amounts to little more than a reset button, a removal of the influence over destiny that a person had created.

The hero could have remained an office drone for his entire life, and never taken control of that life. But as he expressed at the end of the movie, he wasn’t going to do that. He took control as any person can. As anyone can choose to change what they do. Destiny and fate are not powerful or unknowable forces outside our ability to understand. Because we all have command over our own destinies.

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