In January, I saw Seven Pounds at the theater with friends. I don't think I've ever left a movie with more things to discuss and process since The Lord of the Rings debut. Not all those in attendance with me grasped my extreme thinking through the movie, but I challenged those around me, who I knew would appreciate it, to watch it. My friend, Amy, who is like-minded when it comes to dissecting things, recently watched it and challenged me to blog about it. I planned on blogging about it in January and the time got away and the moment was gone. This weekend, through the glories of Red Box, I rented it and watched it again...and took notes. Yep, I'm a certifiable geek. I'll warn you, there are spoilers ahead, but even if you read them, you still need to experience the flick.
The story revolves around Ben Thomas (Will Smith) and his quest to redeem himself from seven seconds that changed his life. A successful businessman with all the luxuries...great car, awesome job and beautiful fiance'...he had the life. You don't realize his quest or why he's on it until much into the movie, but one fateful night as he was driving down a two-lane highway in his car, next to his fiance', he is looking at his Blackberry and loses control. The car swerves, hits a van and crashes. Six people in the van....all dead. And, his fiance'...dead. He is the sole survivor and seven lives are lost. He takes on the persona of his brother as an IRS tax agent to research seven worthy people he can give "life" to. From bone marrow to kidney donation to signing away the ownership of his beachside mansion, he thinks non-stop of redeeming those seven lives with seven more salvations. The ultimate redemption comes at the hand of his own death, when his heart is the rare, yet perfect match to, ironically, a woman he has fallen in love with. And, he plans his suicide to provide that heart, and his eyes, to a blind meat salesman he tracks down.
You either love or hate this movie. There isn't an in between. Some people can scoff at it's new age view of redemption and I'll amen that one, but before you dismiss it's own redeeming qualities, there is a story here that can be shared with those about true redemption through the only Redeemer....Jesus Christ.
Ben has the names of these seven people ever before him...the ones that died and the ones he wants to save. Like Christ, our names were written in His scars. Ben's scarred side where that kidney was removed had a coach's name on it. The nail prints in my Master's Hands have my name on them.
When Ben meets Emily, the recipient of the heart donation, he tells her he has heard she calls herself unremarkable. She responds by asking him if he saw himself as good. He says, "Unremarkable would be an upgrade for me." No one is good, aside from the Perfect One, who, was willing to humble Himself and come to earth and take on my sin. That is remarkable.
In watching the extras on the DVD (another sign of my geekness), the writer mentioned that he chose the occupation of tax collector intentionally, the lowest of occupations, the person no one wants to have come knock on your door. Yet, two of the seven benefactors actually reach out to Ben after he has visited them. We all need redemption. We don't realize we do at times, but when that wooing from the Savior happens, no matter how low you are, you are going to reach out to Him for redemption.
No, Seven Pounds isn't a picture of the right kind of redemption. None of us can do anything on our own to save ourselves or others. But, it does show a picture of why we need redemption. We are imperfect, we fail, and we simply can't do this on our own.
My favorite scene in the movie is when Ben signs over his home to a single Mom who has been abused by her boyfriend. She needs a new location and a new start and Ben gives it to her. In the letter with the deed, Ben writes, "If you wonder why you, please stop, all I ask is that you honor my wishes...and live life abundantly."
In His love letter to me, Christ encourages me to be obedient in response to all He's done for me....and says..."I have come that you may have life, and have it more abundantly." Now that's a Redemption Story.