October Positivity: Buying Time (dir by Michael Cargile)

2019’s Buying Time opens in the future.

It’s not a particularly happy future.  Many things have been declared illegal and forbidden, all in the name of the public good.  Secret police roam the streets.  Those who refuse to obey the system are arrested and held in dark cells.  It’s all for the benefit of the people, of course.  (Not me, us and all that nonsense.)

Adam Demus (Drew Garrett) is arrested for street racing and tossed into a dark cell.  Adam is a rebel, though he doesn’t seem to be sure what exactly it is that he’s rebelling against.  To Adam’s shock and anger, his father, Nick (Jake Head) is brought into the cell.  It is quickly established that Nick used to be an abusive drunk and that he regularly beat both Adam and Adam’s mother.  Adam wants nothing to do with Nick but Nick asks him to just listen to his story.  Seeing as how the cell is locked, Adam doesn’t really have much choice.  While Nick speaks, the government monitors everything that he says.  They’re just waiting for him to say one certain thing so that they can make their move.

Nick talks about his youth and how he was once also a street racer.  In the years before the new government came to power, Nick would spend every night racing against two brother, Ben and Pete.  But then, one night, a terrible accident landed Ben in the hospital.  Having nearly died, Ben declared himself to be a Christian and, instead of racing, he now wanted to preach.  Pete wasn’t particularly happy about that.  In fact, outside of their mother and the local preacher, no one was happy about that.  Ben would still go to the street races but now, he would try to preach and he would go on and on about how breaking the law went against God’s will.  Finally, Nick called Ben’s bluff and challenged him to a race.  If Ben won the race, he would be allowed to preach and everyone would listen to him.  If Nick won the race …. well, who knows?  I guess Ben would just have to go to some other illegal event and try to preach there.  (One can only imagine how his message would have gone down at a cockfight.)  Anyway, if you’ve ever seen a faith-based film, you’ll know that this all leads to tragedy, a sudden conversion, and eventually a scene where the government declares that Christianity is now forbidden.

Due to its structure, Buying Time has an odd feel to it.  Indeed, it feels like two separate movies and it wouldn’t surprise me to learn that the interrogation scenes were conceived and added after the scenes involving Ben and Pete.  All in all, it’s a pretty heavy-handed film and Ben and Pete are not particularly likable characters.  Ben is preachy.  Peter is resentful.  Even their mom is a bit full-of-herself.  That said, I do like fast cars and I don’t care much for the government so I appreciated the film on those two levels.  It’s interesting to note that, as a viewer, I never really bought Ben’s sudden conversion to Christianity but I totally believed that the government would have no problem taking away everyone’s rights.  I guess that says a lot about the state of the world today.

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