For the rest of the day, the men are locked in a struggle of strike and counterstrike. Both men are wronged and wrong. Ultimately, both men don’t just have to face one another but themselves. Each has to come to grips with his own values and his own life. This is not a pleasant experience.
All of this happens on Good Friday. At one point Banek asks, “What’s good about it?”
Ah, there’s the rub! The film is not an explicitly religious film, although Banek asks the above mentioned question and even has a conversation with a priest in a church to which he has ducked in hopes of finding some “meaning”. But the question of Good Friday hangs all over the film. How can a world populated with seemingly decent people be so filled with hatred and violence and suffering. Despite the best intentions (or at least pretty good ones) the world has gone terribly wrong. It is the question which confronts the world on Good Friday, on September 11, with the D.C. area sniper, and the seemingly endless struggle in the Middle East. For most of the film (and indeed as we face the real world), things just seem to get more and more hopeless. Solutions are offered but found empty. (There’s a great scene in which Banek interviews a prospective lawyer for his firm. The interviewee indicates that he wants to be a lawyer because he views the “law” as the ultimate hope in saving humanity. Banek, who is all too familiar with lawyers and the law, laughs derisively and sadly.
But the movie does not end in despair. Both men’s souls and values are stripped bare. Each comes face to face with himself. Salvation (not easily or cheaply) comes when both men are scared more by themselves than the other guy. Each recognizes that the road he is on is leading him to destruction. They recognize that their only hope is in “changing lanes.” Of course, the Bible’s word for that is “repent.” The men found that their salvation lay not in the law of “tit for tat” and that brand of justice, but in repentance and mercy. Our world, and you and I, need that message as much now as on Good Friday. Indeed, that is the message of Good Friday.
©2002 C. David Hess