This is only my second review of a movie on IMDb. I see a lot of movies but am compelled to take time out of my life to impose my opinion on very few of them. THE SUNSET LIMITED, however, is deserving enough for me to spend such time to write this review. What seems simple turns out not to be so simple at all. Two men sitting and talking around a small dining room table pretty much all throughout the film doesn't sound all that appealing, now does it? But the things they discuss... well that's some powerful stuff!
Samuel L. Jackson plays a God fearing (but far from perfect) man with a violently checkered (and criminally plagued) history who longs more than anything to save a man who just tried to hurl himself in front of a NYC commuter train. It is clear that he has had a very hard life, full of suffering and pain. For him EVERYTHING was a struggle. Despite that, he genuinely believes that if he lives out the remainder of his life right, he will get to see all those he has loved so dearly again. He also admits his flaws and does not come across as a 'holy roller' type at all. His words are riveting. They are authentic.
Tommy Lee Jones, on the other hand, plays a man who seemingly has walked the straight and narrow. From how he speaks, he has had every advantage in life... but he has gained no spirituality, no 'guiding light' whatsoever. He holds no emotion, not even a microscopy of love, for those that brought him into this world. Instead, he seems more bitter towards them (and everyone, in general) for his very existence. His worldly view of things have brought him to a platform in a 155th street subway station where he honestly seeks to end his misery. He simply wants the peace that nothingness can bring him. Oddly enough, though he seeks death, he does talk of taking great care to assure no one is able to witness this grisly event. He, therefore, has no idea how anyone was able to save him since no one was there... He checked.
BOTH men have buried everyone they have known in their lives. But clearly their experiences have brought them to very different places... not in the way you'd expect. They have ironically opposing vantage points in terms of their takes on the 'afterlife.'
All through the movie, neither man mentions the other's name. Henceforth they are known simply as 'black' (Jackson) and 'white' (Jones)... Not even an insignia of a proper name is shown on Jackson's work uniform, which he wears through the entirety of the film.
The first part of the movie, it's Jackson who pretty much runs the show. We get to learn, bit by bit, more and more about each man (we also learn that the term 'taking the Sunset Limited' refers to those who take their life by throwing themselves in front of a train). The last half of the movie, it's Jones at the helm... and WOW! His views sure puts everything in a major tailspin. Once he gets to talking (I mean REALLY talking) things begin to look a whole lot different... In the beginning of the movie he seemed somewhat restrained, revealing very little. But once he get's to rolling no one can argue with his angle, no matter how dismal it may be!
Jones' character's conclusion that only the ignorant (or 'dummied down') people chose to keep living because they are still lost in their hopes and dreams of a better tomorrow... whereas the smartest (or 'most educated') people would be welcoming death with open arms (to the point of actually seeking it out) because they have come to terms with the ugly truths of life via their advanced knowledge is certainly a perspective that most I am sure have never thought of... Yet it makes perfect sense--especially when he argues the point of the tree of life as mentioned in the bible, which basically insinuates the very same reasoning.
To be honest, this film has scripted a lot of the things that have laid keep in my mind at one point or another as I get up there in years. I imagine this is part of the 'wisdom' of aging we all hear so much about... For me this was an eerily ironic yet enlightening experience. I guess I'm glad to know that my developing thought pattern is pretty much normal, though it may still be a bit abstract. I certainly never expected someone to put these things to paper, much less on script.
To say this movie is 'deep' is an understatement. The story needs to unfurl before your eyes so the viewer can savor it as if it were a fine wine. The scripting, acting and pacing are all perfect. There are even a few comical moments as the chemistry between the two men becomes more resolute. Though they have widely differing opinions, each seems to respect the views of the other... and Jackson's character appears to welcome the intellectual stimulation, as well as the challenge to prove his faith in God. This movie should be (and probably will be) watched many times over, even though the first viewing will leave a residual marinade in your brain for a long time to come. There is something for everyone in this film, believers and non-believers alike. There will be no ultimate answer... no right or wrong. We just get a crystal clear view of each man's conclusions and how they came to have them.
I really don't want to spoil this movie for anyone by revealing too much more. I feel I've said too much already. A full 10-star movie indeed!
12 out of 22 found this helpful.
Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.