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"We don't get a lot of things to really care about."

It is really difficult to talk about this movie without kind of spoiling the whole reason to recommend watching it. Needless to say, Pig is a cleverly-subversive rebuke of the toxicly-masculine "revenge porn" movies that it is inspired by -- movies like John Wick and Taken with a little Quentin Tarantino thrown in. The movie was pitched to me as "Nick Cage goes John Wick to rescue his kidnapped truffle pig." I like John Wick and Taken just fine, and I was surprised at where Pig ended up going, but it goes without saying that Pig ends up offering something much deeper and more meaningful.

Pig is a sad, depressing movie about dealing with loss and grief; about reflecting on lives that didn't turn out the way we wanted them to; about the past that was, the present that isn't, and the future that will never be. Sometimes life spirals out of control because of the poor choices we make; sometimes it's just tragic bad luck. Either way, we cannot undo what's done, and we can only go on one more day at a time.

Yet in spite of the depressing path that the story takes, Pig somehow manages to present an uplifting message about connecting with other people through empathy for them and their situation, and about finding common ground between people who cannot possibly be more different. Even if you can't get what you want through civil discourse, it's still not worth resorting to violence.

Pig will be another example that I will point to, along with The Martian and Moana, of a movie that doesn't need a traditional villain or a climactic fist-fight or shootout to tell a compelling and tension-filled story that can connect with an audience. Once again, the writers of any future Star Trek movies should pay close attention to this one, and take notes.

So yes, I highly recommend watching this film. If you haven't watched it yet, then you can stop reading here and come back when you have watched it, because I can't talk any more about why I like it without spoiling everything that makes it good and meaningful.

Did you watch it yet?

Alright, let's continue.

Nicholas Cage must find his kidnapped pig.

Pig excels as a subversive deconstruction of the aforementioned "revenge porn" flicks like Taken and John Wick. The setup is identical to those movies, and it even goes through a lot of the same plot beats -- just without ever indulging in the gratuitous violence that makes those movies so popular. Yet that lack of violence is exactly what makes this movie work, and why it connects on the emotional level that it does.

Part of it is that I kept expecting Nick Cage to suddenly smash a bottle across someone's face when they stopped giving him the information that he was after. Yet it never happens. The misdirection by itself is just perfectly executed. We expect that the movie will reveal that he's some elite assassin, and is just the drop of a hat away from tearing through the town's truggle-smuggling criminal underbelly with a shotgun. But it never happens. He really is just a retired chef. He lets himself be punched in one scene (which happens to resemble another movie about toxic masculinity: Fight Club), which also helps to set up that expectation for future action scenes, only to see him crumple to the ground in a pathetic mess of blood and bruises.

The fact that all the characters in this movie are men also helps make the movie more impactful. The whole point is that they don't resort to violence and fisticuffs, even the big, bad "crime boss". Again, when he refuses to give Nick Cage the information about the pig, you, as an audience, expect Cage to slam the guy's face into the coffee table and beat him up until he submits. That's what John Wick would do. But it's not what Robin Feld does because Robin Feld isn't an assassin. Robin Feld is a chef. So instead of beating his adversary's face to a pulp to get what he wants, Robin Feld instead cooks a fancy dinner for the man, complete with a rare, vintage wine.

Each of these conversations between Nick Cage and various other characters also has a feeling similar to the dialogue of Quentin Tarantino movies -- movies which are, again, usually pay off their tense dialogue scenes with gratuitous and cathartic violence. Here we have a similar building of tension, and the audience surely expects violence to erupt at any moment. But the release of that tension doesn't come from violence. It comes from the men in the scene empathizing with each other and connecting on an emotional level. It's the kind of resolution that gender stereotypes might tell you to expect from female characters, but Pig wants to viewer to know that it's fine for men to settle their differences this way as well. The complete lack of a body count would even say that this is preferably how big, strong men should settle their differences.

It's OK for a man to empathize with another man. It's OK for a man to express his vulnerabilities. It's OK for a man to cry. I'm still crying thinking about it.

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A gamer's thoughts

Welcome to Mega Bears Fan's blog, and thanks for visiting! This blog is mostly dedicated to game reviews, strategies, and analysis of my favorite games. I also talk about my other interests, like football, science and technology, movies, and so on. Feel free to read more about the blog.

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