Sunday, February 21, 2010

"Bus 174" comments by Andy

What a terribly frustrating story! Honestly, Rio was high on my list of cities to visit, but not so much any more.

Here's what was so frustrating for me about the event, and why I think the movie was so brilliantly done:

Rio police are idiots. I appreciate that the gunman had a terrible life, and although I agree with Jason that the movie was heavy-handed in that regard, I thought the backstory on the gunman was needed, and actually a little lighter than it could have been. Unfortunately though, his backstory was overshadowed the incompetence of the Rio police.

Here's my point: at several times in the beginning and through the "final throes of the insurgency," several civilians were within easy striking distance of the gunman. Ipso facto, officers could have been just as close (and were at times). A sniper rifle would have been completely unnecessary to obtain a decent killshot as the sniper would have been well within 25 yards (probably 25 feet) of the gunman for the entire episode. I am baffled that as corrupt as the Rio police were that they wouldn't see this opportunity to actually kill someone lawfully and take it. It really speaks to the corruption high-up that the captain was constrained from giving the proper order. Why? It makes no sense.

And the denouement for me was that the gunman, although spared during the actual dangerous crisis, was killed after he was in police custody on the way to the jail. They failed to protect anyone, and the police, in fact, murdered the gunman. It's the oposite of a lawful society.

I feel terrible for the one victim in the crisis. I have little doubt that the shot that actually killed her was from the ridiculous police officer who somehow managed to miss at point-blank range. I'm not a police officer, but I can imagine the outrage that officers must feel when they watch this movie - I nearly share it.

All that said, it was a brilliant documentary in its ability to help me empathize with the gunman, while simultaneously being pissed-off at the police for failing to take him out in a timely fashion.

comments by Andy


Jason Pyles, Movie Critic said...


So, just to clarify, when you say the gunman's personal history was needed, do you say that because it gives more weight to both sides of this dramatic conflict? In other words, knowing the gunman's pitiful background transforms him from being a mere, one-dimensional bad guy to a victim himself, one with whom we can sympathize. Was that your point? (Or were you simply saying that tragedies such as the deplorable living conditions of street children like this gunman should be made known?)

I assume it's the first reason, because in your last paragraph you note (quite perceptively, I might add) that the film remarkably makes you empathize with the gunman while also being impatient with the police for not taking him out sooner. But if we were given additional sad details about his life (and you can bet there were many), what more could that have done for the film that wasn't already covered? ... Just wondering.

Anonymous said...

If you can not be kind, at least have the decency to be vague.............................................

Jason Pyles, Movie Critic said...

I'm sorry - I can't read your name, and what was I neither kind about nor vague, but should have been? The RIO police? Please clarify. I would happy to discuss my comments further.

Jason - yes, I love a good heavy-handed empathize with those who are less fortunate kind of a story. I don't know that I would have been any more pissed off by the RIO police's actions, but I am a believer in the goodness of people, and that desperate people make mistakes, but that mistakes don't mean you aren't worth saving.