October 3, 2002
IS IT SAFE?:'Darkman' vs. 'Marathon Man' (Ben Shapiro, October 3, 2002, townhall.com)
In "Marathon Man," Dustin Hoffman plays a university student studying for his Ph.D. His brother, a U.S. undercover agent played by Roy Scheider, is killed by Lawrence Olivier, a former Nazi looking to reclaim jewels stashed in a New York bank. To make a long story short, the last scene opens with Hoffman holding Olivier at gunpoint, forcing him to swallow his own jewels. Olivier swallows one and then says, "You'll just have to shoot me." When Hoffman hesitates, Olivier states: "You won't do it. You don't have it in you." Hoffman doesn't do it, so Olivier pulls a blade on him. Hoffman tosses the jewels down a flight of stairs; Olivier runs down the stairs trying to save the jewels, trips, falls and impales himself on his own knife.
In "Darkman," Liam Neeson plays a scientist who is permanently scarred after a corporate strongman, played by Colin Friels, orders Neeson's lab to be blown up. In the final scene, Neeson and Friels duke it out on the framework of a skyscraper, 650 feet above the ground. When Friels slips, Neeson catches him by the foot and holds him upside down. Friels begins laughing. "You let me die, you become as bad as I am -- worse!" he scoffs. "You can't. I know you too well. Dropping me, it's not really an option for you. It's not something you can live with." Neeson drops him. Splat. Neeson mutters: "I'm learning to live with a lot of things."
Believe it or not, the contrast between the two endings sheds light on the partisan battle that has erupted concerning congressional approval of an upcoming attack on Iraq.
Here's our question: does anyone actually root for Dustin Hoffman in that final scene or don't we all secretly want to see Olivier torture him again? Posted by Orrin Judd at October 3, 2002 10:07 AM