Prayer Focus
Click here to watch THE HOPE on-line!
Movie Review

Crash

MPAA Rating: R for language, sexual content and some violence.

Reviewed by: Sheri McMurray
CONTRIBUTOR

Offensive
Add to your list?
View your list
Moviemaking Quality:

Primary Audience:
Adults
Genre:
Drama
Length:
1 hr. 40 min.
Year of Release:
2005
USA Release:
May 6, 2005 (wide)
Copyright, Lions Gate Films click photos to ENLARGE Copyright, Lions Gate Films Copyright, Lions Gate Films Copyright, Lions Gate Films Copyright, Lions Gate Films Copyright, Lions Gate Films Copyright, Lions Gate Films
Relevant Issues
Copyright, Lions Gate Films

RACISM—What are the consequences of racial prejudice and false beliefs about the origin of races? Answer

Racism, Racial Issues and Christianity
Get biblical answers to racial hot-topics. Where did the races come from? How did skin color come about? Why is it important to have a biblical foundation for such issues?

PURITY—Should I save sex for marriage? Answer

What are the consequences of sexual immorality? Answer

Sex, Love and Relationships
Learn how to make your love the best it can be. Christian answers to questions about sex, marriage, sexual addictions, and more. Valuable resources for Christian couples, singles and pastors.
Featuring: Sandra Bullock, Don Cheadle, Matt Dillon, Brendan Fraser, Terrence Howard, Thandie Newton, more »
Director: Paul Haggis
Producer: Cathy Schulman, Don Cheadle, Bob Yari
Distributor: Lions Gate Films

“You think you know who you are. You have no idea.”

Here’s what the distributor says about their film: “A Brentwood housewife and her DA husband. A Persian storeowner. Two police detectives, who are also lovers. A black television director and his wife. A Mexican locksmith. Two car-jackers. A rookie cop. A middle-aged Korean couple. They all live in Los Angeles. And, in the next 36 hours, they will all collide.”

We all have lives that no one sees but God. When we are alone with our inner most thoughts, that’s when God is there. Most people do not take into consideration that other human beings have feelings of loss, love, sorrow, family, loneliness or any basic emotion. In our fast-paced, “me” oriented lives, all we see are the faces, the mode of dress, mannerisms of culture and speech that give us an instant rundown of every person we come into contact with. God help us take the time to see past the tatoos, makeup, dress and talk to connect with the heart that beats within the skin of the man next door, down the street or residing in another country. At work, on the freeway, in the grocery store are human bodies that have emotions and hearts just like us, no matter what the outside looks like or what end of the globe that human body is from.

“Crash” is, if I might use a pun, the film equivalent of a “crash course” in the horrible results of racism and more. With vibrant characters who are mirrors of countless human beings whose assumptions prevent them from seeing the actual person standing before them. It concludes in the consequences we endure when we never fully consider those human beings that we inhabit this world with.

“Crash” pulls the audience in and makes us examine how we view all walks of life. It is a multi-dimensional look at the outcome of compromising our basic beliefs, and how we ultimately live with the outcome. It asks “who deserves the benefit of the doubt…?” How far will a person go to compromise when backed into a real life corner?

This film took me through just one day of the lives of several different people on the financial and cultural ladder in L.A. At first, I had a time figuring out how I would remember all these characters and keep the storyline straight. It wasn’t long, however, that I began to identify, not with each individual character, but with the many problems they faced and had to deal with. These same biases and racial assumptions are occurring everywhere on planet Earth at this very moment, as God looks on with a heavy heart.

This is a brief rundown of the fast-paced drama viewers are caught up in:

A cop (a competent and inspired performance by Matt Dillon) thinks a light-skinned black woman (Thandie Newton) is white. When a white producer tells her husband, a black TV director (Terrence Dashon Howard), that a black character “doesn’t sound black enough,” it never occurs to him that the director doesn’t “sound black,” either. For that matter, neither do two young black guys (Larenz Tate and Ludacris), who dress and act like college students, but are in fact car thieves.

An Iranian (Shaun Toub) is thought to be an Arab, although Iranians are Persian. Both the Iranian and the white wife of the district attorney (Sandra Bullock) believe a Mexican-American locksmith (Michael Peña) is a gang member and a crook, but in fact he is a loving and devoted family man. The district attorney (Brendan Fraser) is so caught up in his re-election image, he cares not about any ethnic rudeness he pours out on those around him.

A black cop (Don Cheadle from “Hotel Rwanda”, again doing another fine portrayal) is having an affair with his Latina partner (Jennifer Esposito), but never cares to get it straight exactly which country she’s from.

Director Paul Haggis who did the screenplay for the Academy Award winning “Million Dollar Baby”, presumes that most people feel prejudice and resentment against members of other ethnic groups, and observes the consequences of those feelings. Normally, I would think this presumption not his place to tell us what to think or do about it, but the film takes on the task with such realism and intuitiveness that I came away very impressed. If all audience members could come away with the same inspiration to love his fellow man, or at least give him a break next time he decides to assume he’s a lesser being than himself, Haggis has done his job more than well.

“Crash” is rated R, which is more than appropriate for many adult situations and fluent foul language. Do we adults really use this language as an every day part of our vocabulary? I am getting so tired of enduring a movie, especially one of such high quality as “Crash,” with my head swimming from the harsh language. Besides a** 2 times, da** just once, as well as he**, God’s name was taken in vain at least 3 times and the f-word had no bounds; my last count was well over 15! There was a very crass sex scene involving the characters played by Don Cheadle and Jennifer Esposito, which was meant to represent how lovers are not necessarily tender or even caring, but made me feel uncomfortable even though I understood why it was included within the story line. My recommendation is that this film, although putting forth ideas we all must come to terms with, may not be for any Christian that cannot see past the situations these characters inhabit. “Crash” requires a Christian with a strong stomach for situations of premarital sex, nudity, murder, crude language and extremely realistic depictions of life on the streets.

Through all the muck we are drug through experiencing “Crash,” it is a good example of how not to treat our fellow man, and it even gives a few examples of how to right wrongs, but it is a pity that God was never considered in the end. How sad that a movie with so much power could not take it to the next and final level of love!

Reading Jeremiah 38:1-13 looks into the heart and mind of an unknown man named Ebed-Melech, and his courage to appeal to the King for the life of Jeremiah. Through the strength that God gave him, this eunuch’s words revealed the king’s guilty conscience so that he gave Ebed-Melech permission to rescue Jeremiah. Ebed-Melech’s actions didn’t demonstrate some form of good will from within to protect and help Jeremiah, but demonstrated his unswerving trust in God. Later in chapter 39:15-18, Jeremiah was able to return the favor. God instructed His prophet to notify this simple yet courageous man that God would protect his life during the fall of the city of Jerusalem.

God places the responsibility of self-examination upon our shoulders. The Greek word for examine is actually a commercial term meaning to “weight the worth.” It’s hard to speak up for what is right in our modern, rushed society. We tend to be so involved in our selves that we put others in a “box” and judge them by what they look like and not for who they truly are. Let us have the courage of Ebed-Melech to speak out for, help, encourage, and take action for those we unvaryingly consider less than we are. When God is in control He empowers us to be bold against the injustices of this world.

We are all tied together by a delicate yet unbreakable thread. Lives crash into each other on a daily basis, but through it all there is hope in God to see us through to—and take a compassionate part—in one another’s best interests… and that is not as unlikely as snow in California. As the closing song gently encourages: “Shed your pride and climb to Heaven.”

Violence: Heavy / Profanity: Heavy / Sex/nudity: Moderate

See list of Relevant Issues—questions-and-answers.


Viewer CommentsSend your comments
Comments below:
Positive
Positive—I, too, was squirming within the first 10 minutes. However, I felt this movie is a snapshot of not just America, but the world at large. We live in a very “me” oriented society/world. This movie took me back to a time some twenty years ago when I was one of these characters. I was angry, negative, promiscuous, self-loathing, and reckless to name a few adjectives. I found myself in a lot of these characters.

Still today, as a born-again Christian, I still have trepidation when being approached by a young black man. I still, God forgive me, assume the Latino with all the tatoos is a gang member. I too feel uncomfortable, and yes even angry, around Arabs. I was confronted with these biases head-on by this film.

I believe if any one says they have no prejudice in them, they are being intellectually dishonest. I found this movie very engaging, riveting, truthful, offensive, gut-wrenching, unabashed, and unnerving. The acting was superb!

I believe even if it was not spelled out for the movie-goer, there was definite character growth through-out the movie. Matt Damon showed me loathing and contempt in one scene and humanity and (yes, dare I say) repentance in another. Ludacris, the car-jacker, realized his humanity in the end. Even the Persian shop-keeper referred to the Angel sent to him.

I believe God is in the details in this movie. I do not think this is a movie for everyone. I definitely wouldn’t recommend it to all my friends, but I would to some. I tentatively give this film a positive rating of 4 because I came away with the revelation that what is most important to G_d is that we love one another.
My Ratings: Very Offensive/5
—Beatrice, age 40
Positive—This movie is a very offensive movie, but racism is an offensive thing. This is seriously one of the best movies I’ve seen this year. Every character plays their roles to the fullest, but especially Ryan Phillippe and Matt Dillon. This movie doesn’t just show you that people who you think are racist, just aren’t educated enough. They just follow stereotypes. They have aspects of their lives which people just don’t see. For example, Matt Dillon’s Character. We don’t see the loving son side. I wouldn’t take anyone under 16 to this movie. But if you are an adult, or mature enough… This is a gem of 2005.
My Ratings: Very Offensive/5
—Lanceston Jacobs, age 20
Positive—This movie left me on the edge of my seat. I was left in awe in so many scenes. I thought it was an incredible revelation of how little control we have of our own lives and when it comes down to the bottom line, we are all equal. 1 life is not more valuable than another. It made me feel sad about the society we live in also. How selfish, rude and discriminatory we can be of others, and it does not even have to be on the outside, but our hearts reveal it. I am disappointed that God was not mentioned in a positive way which could have really worked with the Locksmiths family. Also I do wish that the language could have not been so vulgar as I would not let anyone under 18 watch this film. However, this movie is one of the better movies I have seen in a while as it allows you to explore your heart and even maybe to repent of some of the un Jesus qualities.
My Ratings: Offensive / 5
—T. Johnson, age 35
Positive—I found this to be a very disturbing, but very powerful, movie. I can see why so many people view this movie in a negative light, but I feel people’s actions and comments were meant to show the ugliness of racism—and I felt most of the adult characters displayed some form of racism. Two of the characters who were the most overtly racist took action at the end of the movie that indicated that it is possible to change and rise above racism, so I feel that the movie ended on a hopeful, uplifting note. This is a movie I want to see again, and will buy when it is available.
My Ratings: Offensive/5
—Karen, age 52
Positive—Firstly, if you’ve experienced racism firsthand, you will definitely be able to relate to this movie. Yes, the racism portrayed was intense, but not unrealistic. We humans have this propensity to abhor and often be blind to the truth of our own actions, when portrayed in another. Having read some of the other comments, let me tell you that after having lived on several continents and countries (including the Middle East, Asia, and North America), and having travelled extensively, the stereotypes are so incredibly accurate. However, that is precisely what they’re meant to be—stereotypes. Just like King David who was quick to condemn the rich man that took away the poor man’s lamb in the prophet Nathan’s parable, not realizing that the “rich man” was David himself, we are always quick to condemn the actions of others as long as they don’t mirror our own. And when the truth hits a raw nerve, too often we choose to put it down, instead of accepting it and trying to change!

Although “Crash” was laced with abundant profanities and an explicit sex-scene, those weren’t the focus of the movie, and even the sex-scene served a purpose (highlighting the dangers of confusing the utmost physical expression of love with pure lust). There are several biblical themes of redemption (Matt Dillon’s, Sandra Bullocks’ and Ludacris’ characters), although “justice” is often skewed (the young white cop seems to get away with killing a young black man, yet another cop gets away by sexually abusing a black lady etc). All in all, the storyline was realistic and no more than what one observes in day-to-day life in big cities (I live in Vancouver, Canada). I recommend this movie to anyone over 18. Having said that, I also recommend that folks who struggle with lust and language give it a miss, regardless of their age!
My Ratings: Offensive / 4½
—Srimal, age 21
Neutral
Neutral—I went into this movie with high, but realistic expectations after reading the reviews here and on other sites. Movies like this that interweave sub-stories and characters like “Magnolia” and “21 Grams” can be very intriguing and effective if done right. And overall, this one is. The storylines are extremely gripping and relevent and all of the acting is top-notch (esp. Sandra Bullock, Ryan Phillipe, and Don Cheadle). My problem with this movie is that it seems that each character is an extreme example of a stereotypical racist. There is no character that does not engage willingly or finally submit to this behavior—to me that is unrealistic, and asking the moviegoer to swallow that all these type of characters could interwind on any given day in LA. With that said, this movie is an extremely emotional and moving experience, that surely gets it’s point across and stays with you as you leave the theater. The language is offensive, and gets old after a while, but the violence is rather restrained for a movie of this type—and therefore even more effective and disturbing. I will see this again on video, because there is no way to grasp all that is going on here in one watch. This is an extremely well made, emotionally charged film that will have a powerful effect on whoever watches, and will make us all examine our motives and procleavities, I just think the moviemakers went a little over the top to make their point.
My Ratings: Offensive/3½
—David Momberg, age 43
Neutral—I have not seen this movie, but I feel I must respond to remarks that one other commentor made on the issue of racism and how the movie does not provide any answers. I myself am white, however I have many friends of many different races. I have a friend who is a Saudi-American Muslim, and you would not believe the racism that she endures day in and day out. If you want to see just how alive racism is, try dating somebody of another race. My Puerto-Rican girlfriend and I had to endure racist comments and treatment while we were together. Racism is not only very alive, but it is much more common (though well masked) than people generally believe and I believe that this move (which I will see) may serve as an eye opener to many who do not realize how surrounded by racism we are today. I argue that the movie provides it’s own answer. Awareness, which this movie raises, is the first step to reform. Conviction is necessary before change can take place. There is no easy, wrap it up and put it in a box answer to this problem. As with many things in life this is complicated. For one, I am glad that this movie, was not arrogant enough to offer a solution to this age old problem. I can’t wait to see it…
—Adam B, age 20
Negative
Negative I begrudgingly give this movie four stars for artistic achievement. The acting and various cinematic elements were pretty good. But the worldview, the concepts, the storyline seemed to me to be really contrived. A condensed world of racism that does not take into consideration the many strata of society and points of view. Very strange movie. I did not enjoy it, not even for whatever artistic merit it had, and do not recommend it. No transcendant truth can come out of such a tunnel-vision approach to any theme. Thumbs down for me.
My Ratings: Very Offensive/4
Halyna Barannik, age 59
Negative—comments: This movie is so full of itself and so cliché, I can’t believe I sat through the whole thing. I love films that are about dialogue, ideas, and emotions, but unfortunately, you have to wade through a lot of pretentious **** to get to the real gems (like In America, Amelie, Pieces of April, etc). These films have something to say and are elegant in their execution.

Crash had me squirming in my seat within the first 10 minutes. There is not one character in this movie who is not a racist. I don’t know what your life is like, but I’ve moved across 3 states in the past 6 years (from Washington, DC to the deep south to the icy cold north) and my friends/acquaintances have NEVER been like that characters in this movie. Yes, I know racism exists and that the cartoonish way these characters are portrayed is sometimes actual reality, but not like this. Not this level of concentration of racist garbage.

The writer, Paul Haggis, has taken a dozen characters and given them absolutely no racial etiquette and he has them spew out as many racist remarks as he can come up with. This is supposed to be a serious movie about serious issues, but instead the people in the theater I was in were laughing their heads off at every racial remark. Stay away from this trash. I can’t say it enough.

I can’t believe that reviewers are giving this kind of junk filmmaking a thumbs up or 4 stars. When the climactic moment of the movie happened with the locksmith’s little girl, I actually said out loud: “give me a break!,” as everyone in the theater was gasping. PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE stay away from this. It exists to provide no answers, only to give us a glimpse of what a day with the KKK or with young facists would be like.

In this movie, everyone has a grudge against blacks, hispanics, arabs, persians, asians… you name it! Creating a story around a racist character or two is one thing, but making every character a racist pig and providing no real story behind it is just laziness.

This is trash, trash, trash. Manipulative, arrogant, ridiculous trash. Do you really want to give a middle-aged, white writer/director the okay to write 2 hours of the most racist dialogue you’ve ever heard? With no answers, no point? Just a montage of racism? Go rent American History X instead.
My Ratings: Extremely Offensive/4
—Todd, age 31
Negative—Like the other reviewer, I did not find anything redeeming about this film. It recycled all of the old racist cliches that Hollywood likes to spew out, repackaged in a way that tries to make them look fresh or original. But there is nothing fresh or original about portraying African-Americans as only either thugs or Uncle Toms and white people as only either heros or villians. Throwing in some Asian and Latino/a characters does not change anything…
My Ratings: Very Offensive/2
—LS, age 27
Comments from young people
Positive—This movie tackles the issue of racism and prejudice in one of the most racist cities in our country, LA. The movie speaks the the truth about a lot of people in America. It is also wonderfully made.
My Ratings: Good/5
—Jackie, age 16
Positive—…an excellent movie, and what the film had to say about life in America is true.
My Ratings: Average / 5
—Jackie, age 17
Movie Critics
…at times startling, redemptive, moral, funny, wise, provocative, and ultimately uplifting, but extreme caution is advised, because of way too much foul language…
—Dr. Tom Snyder, Movieguide
…confronts, then shatters, stereotypes… may blow apart some of our ideas about race and about ourselves…
—Bill Muller, The Arizona Republic
…stunning, must-see drama… the acting is superb, and the cinematography is strong…
—Lisa Schwarzbaum, Entertainment Weekly
…an intricate, explosive ensemble crime drama…
—Michael Wilmington, Chicago Tribune
…literate, engrossing and occasionally funny look at race relations in Los Angeles…
—Eleanor Ringel Gillespie, Atlanta Journal-Constitution
…a potent work of art… Production values also are first-rate… occasionally oversteps good-sense boundaries and goes over the top…
—James Verniere, Boston Herald