I’ve been a fan of the Transporter movies ever since the first one came out and when this one came out, I knew I wanted to see it as soon as I could. Thus, tonight I went to see it and as my loyal blog readers know, when I go and see a new movie, I always write a review of it. Of course, I try to avoid giving too much information about the movie realizing that many of my readers haven’t seen it yet.
For action and awesome driving scenes, this one is up there. I didn’t think it had as much action as Transporter 2, but it definitely had a lot more driving in it. The story line wasn’t the best though. One was left wondering what was going on and when it was found out, it seemed way too basic instead of the huge conspiracies that are usually involved in Transporter movies.
One question kept coming to me though about the Transporter, who is Frank Martin in the series. It could be that I had just been reading C.S. Lewis’s essay, “Christianity and Culture,” in “Christian Reflections.” In it, Lewis spoke of second-rate type goods that we often put on the level of essential goods.
Take for instance cleanliness. We can often raise it up so that it becomes something holy in itself. Is there anything immoral though in physical dirt? No. However, most of us would readily agree that we don’t want physical dirt on our carpet.
The problem is when we raise those second-level goods up to the level of primary goods and think that just because the second-level goods are there, the rest will follow. As a fan of the Monk TV series though, am I obligated to think that Monk is a holy man just because he values cleanliness and keeps his apartment neat? On the other hand, because I can tend to be messy at home, is it to be assumed that I am a less holy man for that reason?
When we see Frank Martin, we see a man of rules. He’s quite clear about each of his rules and is quite stoic in his regard to them. They are his god in a sense. They are what helps to keep order in his universe. When he goes against the rules, things go wrong. Of course, he always corrects those things that go wrong, but they go wrong nonetheless. The rules are almost treated the way that superstitions are treated.
Many of us probably have such rituals though and we must keep that in mind before we condemn Frank. This can even happen with religious habits. If you don’t read your Bible in the morning, for instance, then you’re going to suffer throughout the day. There are some nights I’ll go to bed and realize I didn’t read the Scriptures that evening. I go on to sleep anyway. Reading the Bible is important to me, but it should not be treated as a magic charm to avoid evil. (Note this is what Israel did in 1 Samuel in bringing the Ark of the Covenant into battle.)
Many things Frank does could be considered immoral though. For instance, his having sexual intercourse with women he’s not married to. However, we could say that many things that we do are immoral as well. In fact, if we don’t think we’re doing anything immoral, we’re probably thinking too highly of ourselves and need to talk to friends and family who could tell us otherwise.
But is Frank good? That is still the question I ponder. Christ himself spoke, as we saw in our recent look at the Sermon on the Mount, on people who are evil and know how to give good gifts to their children. This was even said to the general populace of Israel, and we’d hardly find the scum of the Earth there.
Which tells me we should not equate the doing of good with the being of good. Of course, that doesn’t mean we need to be totally ambivalent about who is good or not either. Goodness though will be found to be an overall look I believe at someone’s life rather than what they do.
I do believe we see this in Frank. Why does he break his rules? They bring order to his universe, but I think he realizes that there is something higher than his rules. At this point, could it be that Frank is in some way reaching for a concept of deity even if it is a deity that he knows not? I’m not saying we can expect to find Frank at our next church service. I’m saying he’s realizing that there are greater things out there than his rules and there is a higher order in the universe even than that. We even find this in episodes of Monk when Monk will do something like go into a sewer to chase a bad guy because he realizes there is a higher good than what he values as good.
When I say that even, I wish to be clear with the caveat. I am not denying that Frank should have his rules. I do not think they are inherently immoral in themselves. I do believe many of the deliveries he makes can be, but the problem is not with having rules. In the same way as said earlier, the problem is not with wanting cleanliness. The problem is thinking those are the highest good. Our lesser goods must conform to the greater good that is out there.
Also, I’m not condemning violence as well. Frank does do a lot of action and as a guy, I love the action scenes. However, that is done for a greater good. Sadly, we live in a world where force is sometimes necessary and not everyone is going to sit down to peace talks. Violence is not good for the sake of violence though. It must always bow to a greater good. Violence simply for the sake of being violent is wrong.
Is Frank good then? My answer is that I really don’t think we have enough information. I do think he has that moral law in him which points to a greater good beyond himself in that he’s willing to sacrifice his life and his rules for that, and in some cases, some might consider it a greater sacrifice to sacrifice rules than life.
Does that mean even if he isn’t good that he can’t do good and be a hero? Not at all. In fact, he is only truly being a hero when he does conform to that moral law that is outside of him. Having someone live up to their own rules doesn’t make them a hero or good. It’s living to the concept of the good ultimately that makes them good. While Frank is fictional, we can be sure there are real people out there who are trying to do good and seeking a good beyond themselves. Let us pray for them and seek to point them to Christ so they can truly be good through the one who is good.