While family seems to be the focus of this week’s films, I’ve found loyalty to be the underlying motivation for many characters’ actions. Merriam-Webster lists synonyms for loyalty, such as dedication, faithfulness, and allegiance. Throughout the class, I’ve found that loyalty and revenge go hand in hand. But does that make one’s actions justifiable?
Bryan Mills, the father and ex-CIA operative in Taken, fights to get his daughter back from a nasty albanian prostitution ring that kidnapped her in Europe. Over the course of the film, Bryan kills 26 people, including the brutal torture of the man who first took his daughter Kim. When face to face with one of the men directly involved in Kim’s final sale (a deal of $500,000), Bryan points a gun in his face; the man says, “Please understand, it was all business.” Bryan replies, “It was all personal to me.” He proceeds to unload the contents of his gun into the man pleading for mercy. So, not a single audience member can deny Bryan Mills’ loyalty to his daughter. His life was in danger at many points, and he was willing to do anything for her–true allegiance. Furthermore, no one can deny that what the Albanians did to his daughter was horrific. Does the fact that he was displaying loyalty justify his actions? Or was their a certain amount of revenge being taken that tips the scales of justice a little too far in Bryan’s direction?
Anton, from In a Better World, is a doctor who does medical missions in Africa. He loves and supports his sons, although he has trouble in his marriage. While away in Africa, he treats woman after pregnant woman that have been cut open to reveal their now-dead babies. One day the leader of the men who have been performing these atrocities drives into the camp, insisting that Anton fix his deeply infected leg. Anton reluctantly agrees to treat the man, on the condition that he keeps his armed minions far away from the refugee camp. The boss complies, but becomes increasingly patient. After Anton’s surgery on a young girl fails, he is devastated–which is when the boss storms in, making horrific comments about the newly dead girl. He knocks the man over and lets the people of the refugee camp, who hate this man more than anything, seek revenge for the deaths and desecrations of their daughters. Anton jeopardized his loyalty to all those he treated in the camp by helping this evil man. He, however, regained it when he let them kill the man who had done so many horrible things. Those who killed him also sought revenge for their daughters. Was Anton right in treating him in the first place? Was he right to give him up to the refugees?
Loyalty and revenge are closely tied, but can loyalty be considered justification for horrible deeds? Can vengeance be the sole motive for any revenge seeker?