Reviewed by: Keith P. Soencksen
What are the biblical guidelines for dating relationships? Answer
Should I save sex for marriage? Answer
What are the consequences of sexual immorality? Answer
Are there biblical examples of depression and how to deal with it? Answer
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|Featuring:||Kevin Costner, Ashton Kutcher, Neal McDonough, Clancy Brown, Melissa Sagemiller, Brian Geraghty, Sela Ward|
|Director:||Andrew Davis (“The Fugitive,” “Holes,” “A Perfect Murder”)|
|Producer:||Beau Flynn, Tripp Vinson|
|Distributor:||Touchstone Pictures (The Walt Disney Company)|
“When lives are on the line, sacrifice everything.”
Ben Randall (Kevin Costner) is one of the most decorated rescue swimmers in the history of the U.S. Coast Guard. His skill, expertise, and raw courage has kept him among the elite ranks of rescue swimmers in Kodiak, Alaska, despite his advancing age. Ben’s heart is devoted to his work, and although his calling is a noble one, Ben finds himself at the end of a marriage that his wife Helen just can’t take anymore. Not long after, Ben’s life is forever changed by a rescue attempt gone bad, in which his crew, including best friend Carl, is killed. He is shaken so badly by the event that he temporarily quits his beloved unit, and gets reassigned as an instructor to an incoming Coast Guard class at Barksdale AFB, LA.
The focus of the movie then turns to Senior Chief Randall’s class of rescue swimmer hopefuls. Predictably, Randall trains his students using unconventional and punishing methods, often exposing the young men to risks that even make Randall’s superiors squirm, and resulting in a 50% dropout rate. Among the students is a prodigy named Jake Fischer (Ashton Kutcher). Jake (a.k.a. “Goldfish”) was a star swimmer in high school, and has a chip on his shoulder to back it up. His cockiness gets him in trouble with the Senior Chief more than once, but Jake manages to retain the Senior Chief’s favor through it all because of the unique bond they share as a result of each man’s tragic past. Here, some imagination is needed. In real life, of course, military leaders are trained to never get personal with their training recruits, nor do they grant forgiveness for such wanton rule-breaking as is perpetrated here.
Upon graduation from the intense 18-week training program, Jake gets assigned to Ben’s unit in Alaska (as if we couldn’t have guessed), resulting in further development of the close mentoring relationship already established between the Senior Chief and his star apprentice. The last 45 minutes or so present a series of daring rescues, exposing Ben’s newest team member to the harshest of conditions. Once again, viewers will have to get past a few rather unrealistic occurrences, but despite this, the stunts are generally well done. The action drives steadily toward the movie’s final climax, but as for the dramatic ending, well, I can’t spoil it in good conscience. So I won’t.
As should already be clear, this movie is packed with strong action from the start. Viewers will find themselves on the edges of their seats a number of times, and those prone to sea sickness may even turn a shade or two of green, especially if watching it on the big screen.
Even ignoring the issues of morality discussed below, this movie is not for anyone under age 13 or 14 due to its intensely perilous and occasionally disturbing action sequences (thus, a PG-13 rating). Adults are treated to some excellent scenery and special effects, and will gain a tremendous respect for the ocean, and for the many heroic Guard members who live out the motto “So others may live,” usually at great cost to themselves and their families.
Unfortunately, although the story told here is gripping and inspirational, Hollywood has disappointed us once again by adding an unhealthy dose of filth. Christian viewers will want to be wary of moderate levels of foul language and sexual content, along with frequent bar scenes (including fights) and alcohol consumption. Some will be tempted to say, “Yeh, well that’s real life.” To that, I say, “Yeh, so?” History has seen numerous examples of powerful action dramas that suffer not a whit for any lack of sinful display. Sadly, such movies are largely a thing of the past. “The Guardian” could have triumphed handsomely without the sex and vile expletives.
Need a few specifics? You can’t have a young, sexy, main character like Ashton Kutcher without a love interest, now can you? Unfortunately, we have to use the term “love” loosely, because Jake and his girlfriend make it clear to each other and the world that they’re not looking for commitment. They just want casual sex. The film shows no nudity, and little in the way of sensual activity, but beware that heavy flirtation and implied sex are definitely persistent. These are what the Bible call lust and fornication, and God it makes very clear in 1 Corinthians 6 among many other places that unrepentance in this area (as in any sin) will be met with eternal judgment. Sadly, most viewers, and even some self-described Christians, will see this flirtatious, sexual escapade as no big deal. I pray that the Lord will open up the eyes of even a few viewers to see this for what it is, recognize it in their own lives, and turn from it now.
The main characters are frequently seen with a beer in hand, and in one scene, Ben Randall “eases” the pain of his imminent divorce with a bottle of Wild Turkey. While I wouldn’t describe the use of foul language as excessive, it does include several exclamations of the Lord’s name in vain, along with an only slightly less offensive and unnecessary litany of curses here and there.
Bottom line: This is a great example of a movie with fantastic potential that was severely diminished by no small pile of offensive garbage. The film’s successes are not outweighed by its shortcomings, but there are bright spots nonetheless. Chiefly, viewers will gain a new found appreciation for the little-known rescue swimmers of the U.S. Coast Guard, who are equivalent in every way to more famous elite military groups like the Army Rangers and Navy Seals. These brave men and women enlist with the full knowledge that they may lose their lives in the line of duty.
In similar fashion, Jesus Christ volunteered to the will of the Father, knowing fully that He would lose His life in the line of duty. And yet, He gave it freely, as a ransom for many (Matthew 20:27-28). The Coast Guard can save a person lost in the grip of the sea, and prolong his Earthly life for a time. Only Christ can save a person lost in the grip of sin, and by His amazing grace, provide eternal life.
Violence: Moderate / Profanity: Moderate / Sex/Nudity: Moderate