In In a Better World and Taken we see broken families dealing with violence and revenge. In these films family issues influence decisions about taking revenge in complex ways. In In a Better World, we see a young boy, Elias, relentlessly bullied at school. He is helpless and wants the bullying to stop but takes no action until he meets Christian. Christian witnesses Elias’s torture and is hit once and he decides to get revenge by hitting the bully with a bike pump and threatening him with a knife. Each of the boys’ family lives influence their decisions when they encounter violence. Christian harbors bitterness and anger from his mother’s recent death and his father’s constant absence. Having been powerless to help his mother, the next time he encounters something bad happening to an innocent person (Elias), he takes action quickly and harshly. Elias’s relationship is much better with his father, even though he is often in Africa working as a doctor. His father has instilled in him that being the better man is more important than hurting someone else, as we see when he confronts the father who hit him in the auto shop. Until the end of the movie, Anton, Elias’s father, doesn’t give into the temptation of seeking revenge, but rather turning the other cheek. Christian’s idea of revenge has to be in some way violent for it to count for him. Christian carries out the revenge he feels Anton should be doing by building a bomb to blow up the man who hurt Anton’s car. Elias realizes the danger and insanity of setting off a bomb in a residential neighborhood over a few slaps on the face and name calling. He tries to stop the plan by talking to his father, but his father is in Africa and can only briefly talk to Elias on skype. Because of this lack of parental guidance, Elias decides the plan is a good idea. Elias is looking for approval and love that he doesn’t get at school or at home when his father is gone. Because of this he tries to avenge his father and follow Christian, who is the only friend and guidance he has. Anton ultimately takes revenge for the people he has treated in Africa by throwing a brutal war lord out of the camp to be beaten to death by a crowd. This time when Anton comes back to his home, there seems to be a possibility of him and his wife reconciling after the near death of Elias because of the bomb.
In Taken we see also see a father who has neglected his family for his job causing divorce and his daughter not to trust him. He tries to make it up to his daughter by quitting his job to live closer to her. He is constantly cut down by his ex-wife and shown up by her new husband who is extremely wealthy. He feels as though he can never measure up to his daughter’s new family and eventually agrees to let her go to France with her friend as a way of trying to measure up in his daughter’s eyes. If he didn’t feel below her stepfather it is likely that he wouldn’t have allowed her to go on the trip and would’ve ‘prevented’ his daughter’s kidnapping and slavery. After she is kidnapped he is finally the most valuable asset the family has of getting her back because of his CIA training. He is brutal in his quest to find his daughter not only to get her back but to get vengeance on those who took her. His excessive killing may be because of his former inadequacy as a parent. When he returns with his daughter their past relationship is erased and they are again a loving family. Through his revenge against the men who took his daughter, he has redeemed himself in a way he never could have before. It is interesting that in both of these films we see families being brought closer by one or more of them seeking revenge. \