Film Review: Crash

01 Dec Film Review: Crash

Everyone, whether consciously or unconsciously, fears crashing. Though the chances are slim, we all have that fear. Unfortunately, Crash, directed by Paul Haggis doesn’t seem to have this fear. The movie plummets straight into the ocean and never looks to resurface. Anyone planning on giving this film a go should know that it features a confusing plot, underdeveloped characters, and the standard amount of guns you can expect in any Hollywood movie. 

Crash is set in LA and follows a group of strangers whose lives intertwine over 36 hours. We learn about the funny way people’s lives can intersect without us really knowing it. Throughout the film we’re exposed to each character’s racist attitudes as they go through their lives. Take it from me when I say that if you feel bad for a character, hold onto your seat because nothing stays right side up. Everything comes full circle in the end, with a montage of every character we meet along the way. Though loose ends are haphazardly tied up, the finale is unsatisfying, only showing us that everyone is racist and that no one is going to change. 

It would be wrong to call this movie’s plot predictable, because it’s far from it. At no point will you feel that you can predict exactly how each character’s life will weave into another’s. But that’s just the problem. The weight of this plot drags the movie under. Too much is left to be deciphered that all this movie does is leave you trying to connect the dots. Until someone else draws the picture for you, you won’t understand where the plot is going. It feels like your brain has been overloaded, and all you really need is a break before you can continue. With the plot revolving around approximately 11 storylines, it’s no surprise that this is a muddled story. With all the little details and collapsed plot twists, not even the characters would be able to comprehend their own storylines. The plot is also unrealistic. You wouldn’t believe Crash is set in a world we’re very familiar with. For one thing, how could all of these people’s lives have intersected? It doesn’t seem real that they kept touching each other’s lives ‘accidentally’. The plot is puppeteering the characters and forcing them to crash into each other.    

The nonsensical plot of Crash set the scene for stereotypical and underdeveloped characters. For a movie about racism, the stereotypes each character was labelled with were pretty racist. Sure, the goal of this film was to show us that people are both victims and perpetrators of racism, but that doesn’t mean every character had to have the typical backstory. The writers seemed to be ticking off stereotypes from a list saying, “A Persian guy? Great, let’s make everyone think he’s an Arab terrorist. A Latino? What if everyone thinks he’s a homie that sells drugs?” Watching these characters in 2022 felt like a very 2000’s attempt on racism which didn’t sit well with me. The people in this film aren’t developed. It’s a big ask to give 11 characters strong arcs, and Crash fails, with every character ending up in a smoking heap. Because this film tried to cram too much in, none of the characters resonate with the audience. They’re all blank boxes filled to the brim with racism, but with no personality on the outside. Even if characters do have some flair, it fits too well with their stereotype to even feel genuine. Screen time also became an issue with characters vying for attention. Technically, all the storylines were smashed into each other, yet some arcs received little to no screen time in comparison to others. For example, the ‘China man’ barely made any appearances. While the two young black men made multiple appearances and touched nearly everyone’s lives. This botched attempt at multiple storylines just ends up crashing to the ground, because in the process of trying to create complex characters, none of them feel real. 

The symbolism of guns was the only semi-positive note from this film. Now I know this sounds terrible because the issue of guns in America isn’t a positive thing, but it shows just how much Crash could have improved. No one holding a gun in this movie gets anything good out of it, and I believe this is a positive message being sent to the audience. These weapons benefit neither the police with their power nor the average man looking for protection. These people are cowering behind their guns as if firing bullets also fires away their emotions. This is a realistic portrayal of our relationship with guns, especially in America, where guns are common. Crash finally gets one thing right by showing us the complicated relationship characters have with guns. You almost feel sorry for them until you see the wreckage in the background, the result of their evils. The power dynamic between those with guns and those without fuels the injustice we feel when people use their weapons as an excuse to do anything, as if the gun controls them. The symbolism does a better job of fleshing out the characters, and showing us that people are both good and bad than the messy plot you’ll be begging to forget. 

You can live without seeing the film Crash. The bewildering plot and unrealistic characters end up in flames. Not even the semi-positive symbolism of guns can resurrect this disaster. There are far greater films with multiple storylines out there that are better uses of your time. You’ll be happier without the excessive racism in this film that makes your blood boil, or the fake plot that makes you wonder who wrote the story. Everyone is afraid of crashing, so if you don’t want to go down with the ship you might as well cross Crash off your list.

Aaminah Ali – Year 12

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