The Thing I Like About …

True Lies: the part where Dana steals the key.

In True Lies, a woman finds out that her husband has been a spy for their entire marriage. She is understandably upset, and therefore follows him into an international terrorist situation wherein they subsequently bond (just like anyone would do). While they’re traipsing all over the place, getting shot at, diving into burning lakes, and ducking for cover from a nuclear explosion (like any other ordinary date night),the terrorists have taken a nuclear bomb to Washington, D.C., and commandeered an office building that’s under construction. The terrorists threaten to detonate the bomb in the city unless their demands are met. They have also taken the spy’s daughter Dana hostage, and they have forced a film crew to come witness their operation – the guns, the bombs, the detonators, the key that turns on the detonator …

But the key to the detonator is gone.

Dana has stolen the key while the terrorists are focused on the journalists; she has run upstairs to the unfinished roof.

She runs across the roof to a construction crane. She climbs out on the crane arm, a couple hundred feet above the ground. She does this even after the terrorist tries to play good-cop for a moment. She does this even though she looks completely terrified. All she has to do to be safe is go back to the man; even if he has the key again, it doesn’t necessarily mean that he’ll detonate the bomb. No one has had a chance to refuse his demands, after all, and he might never blow up the city. But she tells him he’s a whacko, and puts the key around her neck, and climbs even further out, until finally she falls, and is hanging on desperately to the very, very edge of the arm.

She’s not a spy. She doesn’t know that her dad is a spy. She’s not even in the action-adventure date-night part of the film. She’s pretty much a regular person, grabbed by terrorists, given the opportunity to put a wrench in their works … and staking her life on taking that opportunity. Why? Because it’s the right thing to do.

She doesn’t even have a plan (if she had, maybe she would have run down the stairs); she just knows that the whackos shouldn’t win, and that she’s sitting right there next to the key. She sees an evil in the world, and she fights it with bravery and sacrifice.

The terrorists look around at a world that scares them, and they focus on those fears. They believe they can’t exist in the world unless it looks exactly like what they expected. They funnel their fear and uncertainty into anger and chaos and pain.

Dana looks around at a world that scares her – full of terrorists and a two-hundred foot drop to her death – and she chooses to champion that world, just as it is, even if it means she can’t stay in it.

And in the end, that makes all the difference.

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