The movie Unthinkable uses the current problem of Muslim extremists attacking the US as a backdrop for a psychological thriller that wants you to question how far you would go to protect your country. The big issues in the film are justice versus torture and whether the good of the many should be sacrificed for moral uprightness. I think the use of Muslim extremists in the film was meant to keep the story contemporary and give it a modern backdrop that people could understand and relate to. It could have been any terrorist of any ethnicity or religion in that chair. It could have been any country, well, any democratic country that respects human rights anyway.
I had no idea what the movie was about when I started watching it. I just saw that it was popular and got a copy. As the story unfolded I became completely engrossed in it. The acting was done well, the sets are believable and the storyline is well written. I was kind of shocked at how graphic the movie is. There’s a lot of violence and a lot of bloody visuals. It doesn’t pull punches. It wants you to know just how extreme the measures being employed are. It wants you to connect with the characters and become emotional about the outcome. For me, it succeeded. I was hooked.
The weird twist in the movie are the demands that the terrorist has. They’re not demands in the usual idea of demands because what he wants isn’t something that’s going to be detrimental to the US. In fact, they’re demands that most Americans have of the government that are being unmet by the administration, regardless of the promises Obama made during his campaign, or they’re just demands that make sense anyway. I won’t give it away because I don’t want to spoil the movie for anyone, but I think his demands were completely reasonable. Even so, his methods for trying to reach his goals are insane, and there’s no way to justify them.
As for the torture, I’m sure that somewhere, right now, someone is being tortured, backed up by US funding. It’s been done before, and I’m sure it’ll continue to happen. It just won’t be done publically. Does that bother me? Sure, but only because the US government is, by and large, ineffective and I’m sure that innocent people get caught up in the meat grinder. But, if the person that’s being tortured is definitely in possession of information that could save lives, I don’t see why every means necessary shouldn’t be employed to extract information. Can you really say that it’s not worth it to torture one man, when it could save 10s of millions of people? But how far would you take it? Would you take it past him? Would you use his wife and children against him? Would you put them in the torture chamber right along with him? Those are tough questions.
At the end, I was left thinking over the issues that the movie presented. It’s really quite good. I think the biggest question I had for myself at the end of the movie was, ‘What would I do if I were in their position? Could I justify it to myself?’ Would I take the moral high ground or would I be practical and save millions of lives? The answer is yes. Yes, I could and would. Being ethical and morally upright is great, but how would you tell millions of relatives of victims that they can rest easy, because you took the moral high ground and stood up for the terrorist that killed their children, brothers, parents, or spouses? Personally, I’d rather have blood on my hands and know that I saved millions of lives. That would be my sacrifice, but it would be one that I could easily live with.
The caveat to this is that this is just a movie, and this type of ideal situation, with all of the concrete evidence and things falling so smoothly into place probably doesn’t happen very often. I’m not advocating the widespread use of torture, but in particular instances, like the one in the movie, I wouldn’t have a problem with it.