Crash Film Critique

Mark Zelayaran English Honors 1A Mrs. Breckheimer. Crash a film critique The film “Crash” produced and directed by Paul Haggis is a compilation of clever vignettes all throughout the film and for most they undergo some change; however, for the change to occur the film shows the human side of certain characters. The film is a compilation of lives of various characters in a course of a day in the city of Los Angeles. Although racism, discrimination and prejudice is constantly used all throughout the film, Haggis does this bring the message across that “Stretches the boundaries… becomes intensely moving…acknowledges..
The intolerant are human… rage fuels itself and redoubles” (Denby). Scott makes the argument that Crash is “full of heart and devoid of life”; however, Denby’s claims that Crash “Stretches the boundaries… becomes intensely moving” and “acknowledges.. The intolerant are human… rage fuels itself and redoubles” are evident all throughout the film. The film starts off with two white police officers- Officer John Ryan and Officer Tom Hansen. Haggis has built the character Officer Ryan as an intolerant and angry individual who takes his rage out on others.
A fine example of Officer Ryan’s rage fueling itself and redoubling would be when he called his father’s HMO, “I keep telling you my father is in pain… What does my father do about sleeping tonight? I don’t know I’m not a doctor. I wanna talk to your supervisor. I am my supervisor. Yeah, what’s your name? Shaniqua Johnson. Shaniqua, Big fucking surprise that is! ” Shortly after, he pulls over an African American couple, Cameron Thayer and Christine Thayer, and proceeds to search them, knowing that their car isn’t the one that’s been stolen.

He proceeds to search the couple especially the wife in a crude manner. It’s clear to see in that scene that he has no regard for the people whom he holds his anger against. It is evident that what denby claims that “anger fuels itself and redoubles”. As Denby goes on to say, “The intolerant are also human, taking this in mind, this ideology can apply to Officer Ryan when his previous supervisor said “I’m anxious to understand how an obvious bigot could’ve through the department for seventeen years.
Eleven of which he was under my personal supervision”, it is not beyond a reasonable doubt that officer Ryan experienced a moment of weakness and the need to take his rage upon others. On the other hand In the case of Officer Hansen, he is portrayed as a young police officer starting out his career in the force and following the lead of his senior officer; however, Officer Hansen tries to not become like his fellow officer Ryan. Boundaries are stretched and become intensely moving in the belief that Officer Hansen tries to hold to be true.
A fine scene to prove that “boundaries are stretched and becomes intensely moving” would be in when Officer Hansen lets Cameron Thayer off with a “harsh warning” even when Cameron Thayer was held at gun point and making threatening gestures towards the police officers. Haggis gives an insight of how the police department functions; therefore, he balances the film by giving the perspective of civilians. The film begins to transition to the black couple that was pulled over, Cameron Thayer and Christine Thayer, were harassed by Officer Ryan.
Cameron and Christine are victims of the rage from a police officer. Cameron is mostly affected by the harassment from Officer Ryan and as Christine would put it “When that man was putting his hands on me… I can’t believe you let him do that, baby… I was humiliated for you…I just couldn’t stand to see that man take away your dignity”. Cameron has been deeply affected by her words and begins loathe himself and challenges the police to defend his dignity, and the only way Cameron can do this act is through rage being fueled within him and doubling.
Cameron is chased by the Los Angeles police department, an act a man of his socioeconomic stature would never dream of doing, and after being cornered Cameron demands Anthony to leave his car and Anthony replies, “if you’re so brave why don’t you leave?! ”. As Cameron steps out the car and faces the police officers he begins to say insults such as “Yeah that’s what you look like a fucking joke”. It is evident in this turn of events that Cameron’s rage for himself doubles and begins to take it out on others.
The boundaries of law and order are stretched are when Officer Hansen lets him go with a “harsh warning”, and not turning over Anthony to the police when he had an opportunity to. Towards the end when Cameron tells Anthony “you embarrass me, you embarrass yourself”, Cameron realizes that although Anthony tried to car jack him, Anthony is still human and is living a life that is a mistake. Although Cameron’s rage for himself doubled and was only fueled by itself, at the end Cameron choose to stretch the boundaries and proving that intolerant indeed are human through his actions of letting go of Anthony.
The film tries to show a somewhat humorous side of the racism, prejudice, and stereotypes that Haggis creates, and it’s done through Anthony. Anthony blames his position in society due to the upper class keeping him there, while Peter simply tries to laugh it off and doesn’t see it that way. The issue between these two characters is the issue of anger. Because once again Denby proves that “rage fuels itself and redoubles”, when Anthony and Peter are walking down the street and see a white couple [Rick Cabot and Jean Cabot] and as soon as Jean notices both Anthony and peter [his partner in crime], she grabs her husband’s arm.
Of course Anthony would notice this and begins to complain, “Look around! You couldn’t find a whiter, safer or better lit part of this city. But this white woman sees two black guys, who look like UCLA students, strolling down the sidewalk and her reaction is blind fear. I mean, look at us! Are we dressed like gang-bangers? Huh? No. Do we look threatening? No. Fact, if anybody should be scared around here, it’s us: We’re the only two black faces surrounded by a sea of over-caffeinated white people, patrolled by the triggerhappy LAPD.
So you tell me, why aren’t we scared? “ Anthony’s claim is justified in his eyes and begins to use that same hate against society towards the white couple. The rage and contempt Anthony has for society is taken out on this white couple who represent everything Anthony hates and wishes to overcome. Anthony is filled with rage because of his position in society and he stretches boundaries because of this. A fine example of Anthony stretching boundaries and being intensely moving would be when Anthony encounters Cameron.
Anthony even claimed he would never rob from another black man, but he went back on his word thus stretching his own boundary when he attempted to rob him. When the Cameron tells Anthony “you embarrass me, you embarrass yourself”, in this moving statement Anthony finally takes the bus shortly afterwards once again stretching his own boundaries again, even after claiming he would never take a bus. Haggis puts not only Anthony but other characters through extremes to show the human side of these characters and make them beyond the typecast that some would assume them to be.
Haggis puts certain characters through an extreme ordeal and once that character overcomes that ordeal, he or she therefore goes through a transformation. Scott would claim these transformations are “full heart and devoid of life”; however, the transformations certain characters go through is a necessity to show that the characters are real people. Such as the case of Officer Ryan, his transformation or rather his realization occurred when he saved Christine from a car that was about to explode. As Christine screamed “ Get away from me! Stay away from me!… Don’t touch me!
Somebody anybody else, Not you! ” it is clear on Officer Ryan’s face that he realizes what he did was on a larger scale than he previously thought. Or even in the case of Anthony after he refused all throughout the film to even take a bus, needless to say, Anthony did end up taking the bus back home after Cameron gave him those intense words. Even in the case of Cameron when he had to challenge the Los Angeles police department to prove himself and attempted to gain back his dignity through means of rage; however, it wasn’t until after he realized his actions and gave those words to Anthony.
All in all, transformations, some more extreme than others, are a necessity in Crash because it shows a human side to the intolerant. All throughout the film it shows characters that are full of emotion and personality; however, to claim to be “full of heart and devoid of life”(Scott) is a shortcoming, at best. The film is compiled in a way that the lives of twelve characters or so are compiled into one day of interactions and obstacles. To be full of heart means to be full of tugs at heartstrings or other words dramatic, and to be devoid of life is the characters do not portray real people.
Scotts claim is presumptuous because if one were to look at the film closely it jumps around characters. Crash takes place in a period of one day in Los Angeles and it is not beyond a reasonable doubt that prejudice, racism, and discrimination all take place every day. Also, one must also take into consideration that Crash contains characters with real and moving personalities and is intensely moving, and without characters to connect to the film would not be moving. As Officer Ryan, Anthony, and Cameron all show the trials and tribulations some may face. In reality, what Scott claims to be “full of eart and devoid of life” is invalid because he is making a quick judgment of how the characters face the obstacles and never takes into consideration of how much time has passed. In conclusion, Denby’s claims are evident because it shows a human side to the intolerant in the film and also proving that rage only fuels itself and doubles. Haggis uses typecasts to his advantage in proving Denby correct that Crash “Stretches the boundaries… becomes intensely moving” and “acknowledges.. The intolerant are human… rage fuels itself and redoubles”. The characters may fall into typecasts but don’t completely succumb to them.
As in the case for Officer Ryan, Cameron, and Anthony all go through transformations of extreme means proving that the intolerant are human and rage does fuel itself and doubles. However, this transformation can only be done by stretching boundaries and becoming intensely moving. Scott is disproven because of the fact that all these twelve or so characters are put together through a course of one day; therefore, extreme sides of each are seen one or twice a day. All in all, Crash is a film of racism, transformation, prejudice, stretching boundaries, and acknowledging that the intolerant are human.

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