Gone Baby Gone

" For when Gentiles, who do not have the law, by nature do what the law requires, they are a law to themselves, even though they do not have the law. They show that the work of the law is written on their hearts, while their conscience also bears witness, and their conflicting thoughts accuse or even excuse them. " -- Romans 2:14-15 (ESV)

(warning: plot spoilers)

Patrick Kenzie (Casey Affleck) and his girlfriend, Angie Gennaro (Michelle Monaghan) are private investigators who have worked for collections agencies until a little girl goes missing from the neighborhood and a relative hires them to go looking for her. Kenzie in particular is underestimated by everyone he runs into, either for his lack of experience with missing persons or for his youthful appearance, however he presses onward in any case. He is competent and he knows the neighborhood, but one thing in particular sets him apart from everyone around him: a functioning conscience.

At one point, Kenzie and two police detectives track down a known child molester whom they suspect took the little girl. As they approach his house, a shootout ensues and one of the police detectives is fatally wounded. Kenzie then breaks into the house and finds the child molester in the house, cowering in a corner. This is moments after he discovers the body of another child, whom this man obviously killed. Kenzie hesitates for a moment, then shoots the man in the back of the head. Later on, one of the police detectives, Remy Bressant (Ed Harris) praises Kenzie for "doing the right thing," but Kenzie isn't so sure that murdering this man was the right thing to do. Bressant then gives a passionate discourse about his disdain for everyone who might resist his crusade against kidnappers, but Kenzie points out that murder is murder, no matter who it is, no matter what the circumstances.

One might think, from Bressant's impassioned speech, that his heart is in the right place, that he really is a crusader for The Right. But it turns out that Bressant came up with the idea to kidnap the little girl in the first place. Even the local police captain, Jack Doyle (Morgan Freeman), is involved. Granted, Doyle had planned on raising the girl in a better home than she would have had with her natural mother, but the fact still remains that he stole someone else's daughter. Kenzie gets the chance to walk away from the whole situation and let Doyle raise the girl in a much better environment than the girl would have had with her natural mother, but he chooses to turn in the captain. Kenzie had to make this decision alone, even against the wishes of his girlfriend/coworker. His decision does not win him any popularity contests (his girlfriend ends up leaving him because of it), but the little girl's mother seems to be changed by the whole ordeal to the point that she will raise her daughter with much greater care (of course the movie ends here, so it's unclear what the girl's future will actually look like).

People might argue that bending the rules is necessary for the greater good or for progress, however this is the opposite of progress from God's point of view. God's Way, which is moral perfection, is infinitely superior to the morality of natural men, which is to compromise however they, in their limited perspectives, see fit. God's Way is obviously more difficult than man's way. In fact, God's Way impossible for any person left to themselves, therefore faith is required. Obeying God in every aspect of life requires an abiding trust in His ability to work things out for the greater good. This makes sense as God is best equipped to know what the greater good is. Kenzie understood in his conscience that he should first do what is right in the little things, then "the greater good" will fall into line.

During Casey Affleck's brief narration the beginning of Gone Baby Gone he says,

" When I was young, I asked my priest how you could get to heaven and still protect yourself from all the evil in the world. He told me what God said to His children. 'You are sheep among wolves. Be wise as serpents, yet innocent as doves.' " (the last part is quoted Matthew 10:16, Jesus' words to his disciples)


Nicole said...

I thought this was a great film. I had the "plot twist" figured out almost halfway through, but didn't expect the moral dilemma. I watched with 2 friends and was the only person who thought he did the right thing. I've never been an ends justify the means kinda person.

Thanks for coming by my site earlier.

Anonymous said...

"Gone Baby Gone" had a great moral dilemma. When I see movies like this, I don't really side as to what's the "right" decision. I prefer to concentrate on the conflicting emotions of the protagonist. That is where the true drama lies.

RC said...

yea, i think it's hard to watch this film with out talking about faith in God and how he works.

The moral dilemna hits out exceptionally well in this film to open up tons of conversation.

The scripture you chose fits perfectly in your explination of Truth.

Anonymous said...

Yo buddy, you still have this movie over at your place? I've been wanting to watch it.

Satish Naidu said...

I totally agree with you as far as the right way is concerned. I mean, the God's way has always been the toughest.
Think of Mahatma Gandhi, probably an incarnate of the divine himself in flesh and blood.

As far as the film and Ben Affleck is concerned, the best thing is they arent judging the right and wrong. But they sure are hinting at their own sensibilities, which consider Patrick's eventual decision a trifle wrong.

A truly wonderful film.