Hero’s Remorse

We’ve been treated to this dozen’s of times and I can never really figure out why. Our dedicated hero has cut through countless foes only to find himself face to face with the enemy. The head honcho. The man who murdered his family, poisoned the streets with a  new designer drug, and never returned a single library book on time. What does our intrepid hero do? He beats the snot out of this man, preaches to him about the value of change and decency, then explains that he’s just too good a man to kill this lowly villain. WHAT?

I understand there is value in mercy, really I do, but where is the mercy for the dozen plus henchmen the hero just put in a body bag? They didn’t even have the loads of cash to pass on to their families that the crime lord undoubtedly does. Does anyone buy this, or even appreciate the dishonesty of it? The turnabout is often a let down that is somehow supposed to put us back in touch with higher values when the movie/narrative has been profiting from our baser motives the entire time.

Interestingly enough, I just finished Bourne Identity for the hundredth time and realized that we are in fact treated to reverse hero’s remorse. Bourne essentially avoids killing anyone for the entire movie (one of the Treadstone assassin dies after born shoots him, but the shots are shoulder and hand, clearly not intended to kill the opponent), but in the last moment he goes on a spree, killing three henchmen after giving the antagonist a pass. Odd.


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