Because I know the writer/director, I got a chance to preview what I think may be the best movie of 2021. (Yes, I know it's awfully early to make such a projection, but this film is brilliantly created, powerfully acted, and gripping entertainment.)
The movie is Run, Hide, Fight, the story of the response of kids to a school shooting. This movie gives us the sheer terror and the feeling of helplessness that comes over kids who trust authority to tell them what to do -- until they realize that the shooters want them to do what they're told.
Run, Hide, Fight has attracted some hostile reviews for one reason only: It's not politically correct to show a student fighting back when shooters are loose in the school killing everybody.
By that reasoning, of course, the passengers on United Flight 93 should have left their cellphones off and offered no resistance to the hijackers on September 11th, 2001.
But they weren't obedient, they called family and friends, and when they learned that these hijacked flights were being crashed into buildings, they figured, What have we got to lose? They fought back.
And they all died. But here's what fighting back accomplished: The plane crashed in a field in Pennsylvania, not in an important building where many more people would have died.
So anybody who thinks that telling a story about a particular high school girl who refuses to obey the murderers and finds a way to strike back and prevent many deaths is somehow evil or wrong is, in a word, insane. Most movies are about people who don't obey authority. That's what makes the story feel important to the audience.
Besides, Run, Hide, Fight isn't an instruction manual. She has skills and experience that helps her to plan an effective response. And other kids (and teachers) show courage -- exactly the kind of courage that real students and teachers have shown during real school shootings.
But at no point in the film is there any implication that everybody should run, then hide, then fight during a school shooting. That's a decision that each individual has to make. Like the passengers who fought back on Flight 93, there's no guarantee of success, but some people prefer not to "go gentle into that good night."
Self-defense is both natural and right, and a story about self-defense and saving lives fills us with admiration for the character's courage, and makes us ponder what we would do.
I'm a little outraged that the reviewers all responded exactly the same way, as if they were all reading from the same scripture. Because of them, I've spent this whole review so far defending Run, Hide, Fight from ridiculous charges. I'm done with that part now, thanks; let me tell you about this wonderful movie and how you can see it.
We first meet our heroine, Zoe Hull (Isabel May), outside of school. She and her dad are hunting and bring down a deer.
We learn some important things. Zoe can shoot and hit a target. She thinks for herself and solves problems.
And then she's at school, where she's a perfectly normal student, with friends that we also come to like.
When the shooting begins, Zoe responds instantly -- by getting away from the situation, and then finding a place to hide. But as she begins to realize that these shooters mean to kill everybody, she decides that it's not enough for her to save herself.
That's what heroes are: people who take risks to save other people from great danger.
Isabel May's performance is extraordinary. She's believable every moment, and we also care very much how she copes with each new danger. We don't want her to die; we want her to find some way to help people. And, bit by bit, she does.
May isn't alone in the excellence of her performance. Treat Williams is superb as the sheriff who wants to do everything right, in a situation where there is no "right." He's outside the building with a lot of armed people -- and no idea at all of what he can do that won't do more harm than good.
Olly Sholotan plays Lewis, Zoe's best friend, who finds himself caught in the room where the shooters are holding everybody hostage. Because he has a cellphone that's already connected to stream directly to the school's website, the shooters compel him to film them -- so that the whole internet can see what's going on.
Or at least they can see as much as the shooters want them to see. Sholotan gives a strong, memorable performance as a kid who has been coopted to help the shooters accomplish their purpose. Since this is Sholotan's first film role, I have to say he's started out with a lot of power.
Run, Hide, Fight is also a showcase for the character of Tristan Voy, the high school student who planned and is carrying out these murders. The character is clearly not sane, but actor Eli Brown plays him as a guy whose plan makes perfect sense -- to him. I don't know how the role could have been played any better.
But I don't want you to take my word for it. I want you to see this movie.
Tonight -- Thursday, 14 January, 2021, starting at 7 p.m. Eastern -- the movie premiere will start with a "Daily Wire Backstage event" hosted by Ben Shapiro and Jeremy Boreing. This 40-minute event will be livestreamed on DailyWire and YouTube.
After this introductory event, Daily Wire members will be able to watch the movie on the film's dedicated website.
But anybody can watch Run, Hide, Fight for free on YouTube, starting at 7:40 p.m. Eastern, 4:40 p.m. Pacific. You can find it on YouTube at https://www.youtube.com/c/TheDailyWire/
After tonight's showing, the film will go behind a paywall. The cost won't be high, but it'll be higher than free.
After the movie ends, writer/director Kyle Rankin and producer Dallas Sonnier will appear as special guests to comment on the film and its making. This will start around 9:30 p.m. Eastern, 6:30 p.m. Pacific.
This is not a film for young children. Think of it as PG-13. You know your kids, and how they might respond to the topic of school shootings. (Be warned: People die on screen. Spoiler: Zoe is alive at the end.)
I hope you'll be joining me in watching this premiere event.
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