From the very beginning, director Paul Haggis gives us a dam and begins filling water rapidly in to it, and as the water piles up minute by minute, we just know eventually the dam will burst. So, like me, the audience will be at the very edge of their seat, unable to look away as Haggis teases and manipulates us waiting for the crack in the wall where the walls will come tumbling down. Does it ever? You have to watch to find out. But, as I sat watching, I knew eventually something was going to give way and lead up to a shocking moment, and it’s just something you must experience, because my words can not express how utterly breath taken I was by this amazing film. “Crash” is a film I intend to spend much of my life spreading the word about, because it deserves much talk and discussion among its viewers.
What Haggis creates is an excellent, taut dissection of race relations, stereotypes, and clichés that is unflinching and unapologetic from start to finish. This takes the audience by the throat from the very beginning and never lets go until the film ends with a very thought provoking climax that really puts things in to perspective. What Haggis does is in the tradition of “Magnolia” in which we jump back and forth between characters and scenarios and we learn what connects each and every one of these people in the end, if they’re connected at all. What is one of the major pluses for this was the utterly excellent raw acting from an impressive cast from Terrence Howard, Sandra Bullock (who tries credible acting for once), Thandie Newton, Ryan Phillipe as a justified officer, and, most worth noting, Matt Dillon who gives the stand out performance as a conflicted officer who blames black people for his misery.
Not to mention rapper Ludacris actually gives a good performance. The acting is tight, impressive, and amazing from every single person here, and Haggis brings out the best from his actors. Haggis gives every one of his characters humanity, and soul, and never presents anyone with shades of black or white (pun not intended), but gives everyone a flip of the coin in their persona because he strives for realism. Good people do bad things, bad people can redeem themselves, and it all happens in an instance in front of us. Much of it is so nail-bitingly tense, I was literally giving my undivided attention because one turn away and you may miss something. Haggis’ detail in direction and plot elements are so elaborate, so intricate in its delivery that he demands your undivided attention and he had me from beginning to the ending.
But what makes this a film that is all too relevant in the society where we fight in a racial war, is that Haggis presents some blunt and sometimes too true insight in to race relations and racial stereotypes. Most of the lingo used here would be deemed offensive by some, but it works well for what Haggis is trying to convey for us through his excellent writing. And we’re given, with each character, different forms of what racism implies on our every day lives and what we see. Where does law end and racism begin? Can you complain about being victimized, if you yourself have been the victimizer? Can we complain about stereotypes if we live as one? Are we as liberal as we think in our justification of the opposite race? Does racism stem from ignorance, paranoia, or just personal trauma that is apparent and sometimes sub-conscious?
And while we’re given these questions, the characters test not only their own thoughts on racism but speak what we’re thinking through trickery of Haggis’ directing style who constantly keeps the audience wondering and guessing, and as we find out we were wrong about a particular character, we can’t help feel that we, ourselves, as an audience, were also put under a microscope. In the end, Haggis’ message is loud and clear: racism and violence are a vicious cycle. A snake eating its own tail, and Haggis offers no explanation, or answers, because there aren’t any. It’s never that simple, but he does offer up the fact that there’s always hope in each other. What else can I say about this film that I haven’t through my constant paragraphs? I can’t say enough about this beautiful masterpiece. Haggis completely tops himself with a thought provoking, dissection of racism and violence while completely grabbing us with an all-star cast of actors who give excellent performances. “Crash” is a masterpiece that deserves to be watch and discussed.