Fast Five – Movie Review
Review by Stacey Tuttle
Hernan Reyes, the bad guy in Fast Five, talks about captivity. He tells the stories of two groups of people who came to Brazil to colonize it for Europe. The first group came with force and cruelty. They dominated and oppressed the people, forcing them into slavery. However, the people rose up and fought back. You see, they had nothing left to lose.
The second group tried a more subtle tactic. They came bearing gifts, trinkets of glass and beads, things the natives could not get for themselves. They still enslaved the people, ultimately, but they did so with stuff and bribes, not oppression and force. They gave the people something that they were afraid to lose, so that they people were unwilling to fight back, even against the things they did not like. They weren’t happy, maybe, but they had too much to lose to do anything about it.
Reyes himself was horribly oppressive to the people of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, but he had learned from history. He too had mastered the skill of giving people just enough that they wouldn’t risk what they had to fight back for something better.
In a Bible study on Daniel recently, the teacher talked about “friendly captivity.” Daniel and the other young Jewish boys were taken captive by the Babylonians. But, rather than being beaten, tortured, turned into slaves, doing manual labor…they were instead treated very, very well. “Then the king ordered Ashpenaz, chief of his court officials…to teach them the language and literature of the Babylonians. The king assigned them a daily amount of food and wine from the king’s table. They were to be trained for three years, and after that they were to enter the king’s service.”
This group of young boys was taken captive, but they were to eat like Kings – literally! And they were to be educated and trained so that they could enter into the King’s service. In other words, they were to have some pretty high ranking jobs, jobs of honor and prestige and influence. It’s not like they were assigned to menial tasks in a sweat shop for the rest of their lives. Sure it was captivity, but it was the kind of captivity you could hardly complain about. It was friendly. Instead of feeling humiliated for being slaves, the young boys would feel honored and “chosen”…maybe even proud of the notice the king took of them. Never mind that this same king just ransacked their home, took them captive and killed off their many of their family members…a friendly captivity can soon make you forget all that, especially when it tells you that you are chosen and special and have a future in the new kingdom. And maybe they didn’t totally forget, but maybe, like in Fast Five, they were given just enough that they weren’t willing to retaliate; they suddenly had too much to lose.
So what do you do about it when you find you are in a situation of friendly captivity?
In Fast Five, there was a female cop, Elena Neves, who lived in that deceptively friendly captivity which Reyes created in Rio…and worked hard to fight against it. She fought against it by first and foremost, keeping herself set apart. She kept reminders around her of the oppression and deception and of lives that had been lost, so that she wouldn’t forget or be deceived hereself. She also refused to be bribed and bought like so many other cops. Her refusal to indulge in the gifts and trinkets of Reyes kept her from having too much to lose. Because she wasn’t pampered by and benefitting from the corruption around her, she had no interest in protecting it. So, when an opportunity arose to fight against it, she was ready and willing.
The situation was pretty similar for Daniel. He too kept himself set apart and refused to accept all the pampering and spoiling from his captors, starting with the food. The food they were offered, first and foremost, was a violation of Jewish law. It wasn’t just a matter of not getting comfortable in Babylon, it was much more critical than that. This was a choice of identity. To eat the Babylonian foods offered to him was to forsake his cultural and religious roots. It was a matter of allegiance for Daniel. Was he going to align himself with Babylon and their gods, or remain faithful to his God?
“Daniel resolved not to defile himself with the royal food and wine, and he asked the chief official for permission not to defile himself this way” (Daniel 1:8). Every day, when Daniel ate his kosher diet, he was reminded that he was set apart. He didn’t take the King of Babylon’s bribes; instead he stayed loyal to the King of Kings. And so, when the time came to stand up against the king, to defend the God of the Israelites, Daniel was ready and willing.
Questions for Discussion:
- What other parallels do you see between the people living in Rio under Reyes’ rule, and the Bible? Particularly the book of Daniel?
- Do you see parallels between Reyes and Satan, and the oppressed people of Rio and Christians in America?
- Have you ever experienced a sort of friendly captivity? In your faith, in a job, in a relationship?
- What ways do you think you can keep yourself set apart from the “friendly” temptations, bribes and offerings of our world today?
- Do you ever feel that you have gotten so comfortable with our world that it is hard to walk away from it and follow Jesus, completely?
- How does the story of the rich young ruler relate to this idea of friendly captivity? (Matthew 19:16-30)
Surprisingly, the animated film Rio also talks about friendly captivity. See the review here.
 Beth Moore, FYI.
 Daniel 1:3-5