When first seeing this movie, an audience member may believe that it is only about war, and how it can cause a person to completely change. But it is also about family, and finding justice. There are a lot of difficult scenes to watch, and they do not fail to show the true difficulties of war besides the obvious features. There is a subtlety referring to politics, and the misfortunes that the United States has been put through.
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Hank is very much so a man’s man. He believes that because he was in the military, that he knows more than the average person. He is a very smart man, and he does see a lot of things differently than the other detectives see, which is quite astounding since it is their job, and he is simply an observer. Hank learns a lot about his son when he is trying to find out who murdered him. For most people, what they would have learned might have been quite disturbing, and difficult to take in; however, Hank is very understanding about all of it, seeing as he too was in the war, and saw how it can affect a person. Clearly though, Hank’s experience at war was much different than his son’s experience.
For Hank, it was a lot about growing up and becoming a man, and that was what he thought it would do for his sons as well, but he sees through the videos, that his son was strongly influenced by his peers and he was transformed in a negative way. Through this experience of trying to find his son, and find his murderer, Hank is greatly transformed, and although he too has been through war, his opinion on his country has changed greatly. An example of this is through the symbolism of the flag; at the beginning he sees that the flag has been flown upside down, and he knows that this symbolizes a need for help so he changes it, and seems to be quite upset about it; but, when he receives the package that his son has sent of the flag, and after he has seen all the videos from his son’s cell phone, his idea has changed, and he decides to fly the flag upside down to show that the country is more disturbed than he thought. Even though Hank has learned a lot of negative things about his son, he knows that it is best not to share these things with his wife, and he himself wants to forget about that side of Mike. The audience learns that his relationships with his two sons were not particularly strong, that he was too ‘manly’ to focus on their relationship. But the audience does know that he loves his sons, and that perhaps his love of the country and love of being a man became too much of a focal point in his life, even if he was just trying to be a role model for his two sons.
Detective Emily Sanders is the only Detective that will help Hank in finding out what happened to his son. She easily relates to him because she has a son of her own. She is a single mother, doing her best to raise her son properly. Her relationship with Hank is that she gets ridiculously frustrated because he pretends to know everything. Emily is also not taken completely seriously in her job, as the audience sees at the beginning of the film, she is mocked by all the other males in her office and all she wants is respect. She sees her opportunity to gain respect from her male co-workers, and she does. The meaning of life for Emily is to raise her son properly and to gain respect in her job. She has a lot of nonsense to put up with (both in her career and in her relationships), which is what makes her so strong.
Although this movie has a lot of difficult scenes to watch, it truly shows the difficult scenes in war in which society hears very little about. For Hank it’s all about finding his son and knowing that even through the war and the changes he went through, he was always the same son that he truly knew. For Detective Sanders, she just wants justice not only for Hank but also for herself in her workplace because she needs that kind of respect. Overall, this is truly an intense movie, which is important for society to see.