Unstoppable Never Starts

Reviews are trickling in for Kirk Cameron’s movie about the Problem of Evil. Unstoppable showed in select theaters last week, and there will be a final showing on Thursday. The consensus seems to be that Cameron not only fails to answer to question of evil, he fails to even try.

Here’s Conner Habib at Vice.com, who caught the first showing:

Unstoppable isn’t a grappling with theological questions, the work of a wistfully faithful person, or a personal journey. As I’m sure you have already guessed, it’s not the work of thoughtful biblical scholarship either. Unstoppable is the full-frontal display of an egomaniac who has somehow found his way into a position of power.

The movie is mostly a bunch of shots of Cameron talking and looking pretty. We see Kirk sitting on the stairs of his porch to show he’s pensive, picking up dirt from the ground and throwing it at the camera to show off his sex appeal, and walking through a field to prove he’s a deep motherfucker. Seriously, the bulk of the movie is Kurt posing and talking about the Bible. Actually, talking “about” the Bible is too generous—Kirk merely repeats what happens in the Bible while frantically expressing how cool the Bible is. All this is interspersed with music video versions of events from the Bible. Emerging from the mud, Adam reveals his huge pecs and undies. Butcher’s meat falls out of his side and becomes Eve. Instead of talking to a snake who urges her to eat the apple, she speaks to a hot dude with a goatee who wears a torn Cats costume. Later, Cain wears a piece of torn underwear on his head as he kills Abel to the beat of a bad rock song. It’s all very 90s.

Habib has a “both sides do it” slap at the beginning, so he’s not an hostile reviewer, but not a friendly one either. For a friendly reviewer, we turn to Debbie Holloway at Crosswalk, who wants to emphasize that Cameron does preach the Gospel and does bring up important questions. It’s just that he never really tries to answer them:

While Cameron preaches the Gospel, he effectively dodges the question he promised to answer. In the film’s final montage he even states outright, “I won’t even try to pretend I could answer a question like that.” Well, then… what was the point?

Yes, God is merciful and big and mysterious, but Christians have been giving pat answers to each other for time out of mind. And those same questions still surface after watching Unstoppable. Yes, we suffer from bad choices because of the sin inside us, traceable to Cain’s brutal murder of Abel. But what of the innocent cancer patient who never killed anybody? Yes, the world was wicked, and perhaps God was merciful in sending the flood. But what of the innocent children and the nursing babes who suffocated under floodwaters for the sins of their neighbors? What of Jesus who denied the suggestion that a man was born blind because of somebody else’s sin?

Unstoppable touches on much, but delivers on little, possibly because of some fatal flaws.

This is basically what was predicted. Judging by the reviews, Cameron and Co. threw a lot of half-formed ideas at the screen and tried to tie it all together with Cameron’s cheeky charisma. It gained some persecution credibility when Facebook blocked the trailer, and they brought in $2 million from the first showing. I suspect that this means there will be other documentaries in which Cameron will dance around various questions of Christian theology.

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  • mikespeir

    It’ll work, though. This kind of thing is all about stroking the right body parts, and I don’t mean the brain.

    • James

      Theology has always been G-rated Christian porn. To those who are aroused by such things, they cannot help watching it – and it is not the brain that is stimulated by it.

  • Nemo

    Personally, I think the problem of evil is a weak argument anyway. Christianity claims God will fix it eventually as long as you worship him. Not that he needs to, because YOU are a sinner, and this world is all YOUR fault! God is your King, not your nanny!

    • basenjibrian

      Damn, this sums it up. It also makes Yahweh sound like a petulant tyrant who broke all his toys and then blamed the toys for the problem!

      • Nemo

        On a more serious note, I don’t think any religion claims evil doesn’t exist in the world. Polytheism is not threatened by the problem of evil, since the gods of justice are not omnipresent anymore than the gods of rain. The monotheistic religions claim that God will fix the world eventually (there are strings attached, though).

        • kessy_athena

          Not to mention sometimes even the nice gods can act like total jerks. Just ask Homer. (Anyone who just mentally added “Simpson” gets a whack on the head.) The other thing that’s unusual about christianity is the idea of a fundamental, cosmic dichotomy between good and evil. I think that shades of grey is more typical then stark black and white.

  • Voidhawk

    “Instead of talking to a snake who urges her to eat the apple, she speaks to a hot dude with a goatee who wears a torn Cats costume”

    At least it wasn’t Obama this time…

  • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

    I saw it. Intermixed with the last days and funeral of a teen friend who died of cancer are reenactments of some of the brutal stories of Genesis. He asks the questions (“Why would God create everyone and then kill them all in a flood?”) but, as you note, doesn’t answer them.

    I was surprised that the theater had a decent audience. I would’ve liked to have had a discussion.

    Oh yeah. And then there was the infomercial for Liberty University at the beginning. Weird.