WWJD: Rolling Thunder hit audiences like a freight train. Many viewers used to tamer stuff like Star Wars were unprepared for maturer stuff like RT, or Deliverance. Movies with interesting, real world plot lines about redemption or revenge were coming out quickly pre and post fall of Saigon. RT struck a chord with many viewers not just for its protagonist with samurai ethics, military skills and a love for his family but for positing the idea that revenge was okay in circumstances when a family is involved. Major Charles Rane is going to kick ass. He spent years tortured while a POW and he has no time for feigning that he cares or needs to ingratiate himself to his tormentors or anyone else for that matter about his life. What you see is what you get, a quiet man smoldering with anger, patience gleaned from captivity, and focused energy. He will get the men who did this to his family. He needs to sleep in a workshed because it’s small and calm out there, this stoic man of principle. His friend Volden is no different.
When Rane tells Volden he found the bad guys, all Volden says is, “let me get my gear.” I find it hard to stomach knowing that Bruce Springsteen the draft dodger was influenced by watching this movie and wrote a song called Shut Out the Lights. He profited from other men’s pain. There’s a primal energy in RT that explodes in the second half. For those vets struggling with transition, your time to integrate will come, but you have to do the work. Many don’t know your struggles, might not care but it doesn’t make it less real. We shouldn’t desire to follow Rane but we can sympathize with his struggles and his COA. But get out of the gloom and find ways to live despite what life throws at you. The rolling thunder was back where you came, look for the light ahead and walk out of every storm and towards the calm. Last thought, your home might not be the safe place you envision, so make it a hard target and protect the ones you love.
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