First off, what a film! I'm becoming a bigger fan of Kurt Wimmers writing every time i see something with his name on it. However, there was an issue (oddly as within my last post of Mr Lessmores journey) with the characters journey.
At the very start we are presented with a situation of Shelton being injusticed through the lax conviction of Darby (who killed Sheltons wife and Daughter) which was instigated by Sheltons lawyer, Rice, who was trying to keep a conviction record. So at the very start we're gunning for Shelton to get one over on Rice. Fast forward ten years later, and Shelton comes back punishing those that had anything to do with the injustice 10 years previous. There are many elements of a complex story im going to miss here, i reccomend that you either stop here, watch it and come back. Or you can get an update on wikipedia here:
He films himself (masked) torturing Darby and sends it to Rices home, whose own daughter and wife sees the tape. For me, this is the most extreme moment of the characters journey. It's really the only time Shelton get personal with Rice. Aside from that, Shelton kills staff close to Rice, as a viewer whose pretense has been built to disregard authority, why should we care? We get a little bit of a back story of Rice's own minion prodigy Lowell, just before she's blown up, but i found it hard to sympathize. If she's destined to become like Rice, and act in selfish ways at the sacrifice of justice, (and while we're on team Shelton) who cares?
Infact, each of the staff close to Rice express doubt at their actions but it's all just before they died. If they had doubted Rice earlier, maybe this would of aided the transition from team Shelton to team Rice, and therefore i would of had more sympathy with with their deaths, and no doubt this would of inadvertently made Rice look more arrogant as he chooses to ignore Shelton. And for me here lies the problem. The end of the film relies on Shelton's journey of getting Rice to learn his lesson. However, it also relies on Rices own journey, appreciating his family (because it could end up like Sheltons). For us to go on Rices journey we need to also be on his side. Which is the problem. In a cat and mouse film, a story David and Goliath, you can't be on both.
The narrative could of traded their places completely. With us hating Shelton and sympathizing with Rice, but Rice needs to admit his mistakes earlier. Shelton could have developed into a real Psychopath, and this would of sealed the tradeoff. Allowing him to attack Rice's Wife and Daughter, and extend to the depths of which Rice begs for forgiveness and makes a vow to change the system at large in the name of Sheltons own family. (Shelton unknowingly sets the trigger for his own death in the film) However, in this alternate version, once Rice had vowed to make the change, Shelton could have chosen to take his own life, after Rice and him acknowledge they have both made mistakes. They both keep their integrity and we empathize with both.
What do you think? Have i missed something? Please comment, i want to hear your thoughts. At some point i will get the DVD and listen to the commentary and see what they say and see how i feel about it after.