Earlier this week I watched a movie I’ve wanted to see since I missed it at the theater. The movie is “16 Blocks” and stars Bruce Willis. I have enjoyed most of Willis’ movies so I wanted to see this one. The character Willis plays in this movie is not like any other leading role I have ever seen him in. His character is basically a drunk, shiftless, cop. His make up makes him look like he lives from bottle to bottle, and older than he has looked in any of his previous movies. The movie ended up being very good and caused me to think about the quote “good” in people and can they really change? The plot goes something like this:
Jack, a cop (played by Willis) is given a last minute task for the day to transport a black, nobody, criminal (Eddie) from jail to the courthouse. Eddie has to be at the courthouse, 16 blocks away (thus the title of the movie) in three hours to testify for the district attorney. When Jack stops the car along the way to purchase a bottle of booze, they encounter two thugs who were obviously paid to execute Eddie. Jack kills one of them and they escape from the other. They elude the thug by ducking into a bar known by Jack. He calls for backup and his ex-partner (Frank) and two other cops show up at the bar. Through conversation with his ex-partner, Jack learns that this kid he is transporting is going to testify against some cops that his ex-partner wants to protect. As one of the cops is about to kill Eddie, Jack makes a split second decision and pulls an old shotgun out from under the bar and shoots the cop. Jack and the kid Eddie back their way out of the bar and escape. This sets off a long series of events with Jack and Eddie trying to avoid all the other cops trying to kill them and stop Eddie from getting to the courthouse to testify.
Through these series of events Jack and Eddie get to know each other. This happens mostly because of the constant talking by Eddie. One of the subplots to the movie is Jack trying to rationalize the worth of this nobody, black kid, and risking his own life to get him to the courthouse. During a conversation as they are trying to avoid being seen by other cops Eddie tells Jack that he can change from his past criminal behavior, and that he wants to be a baker. The cynical Jack states “Times change, seasons change, but people don’t change.” Later in another scene, Eddie has eluded the bad cops and is on his way to the courthouse but changes his mind and goes back to help Jack. When he finds Jack he says “Chuck Berry has served time in jail and he changed, Barry White spent four months in jail and he changed, I can change.” I am going to pose a question in the text below but for now I will leave the rest for those who haven’t seen the movie.
So my question again is, can people really change? I looked up some criminal statistics and found that nearly 44% of convicted folks who spend time in jail return to jail upon their release. Who knows the number of those who were just weren’t caught or got some sort of plea bargain to stay out of the overcrowded jail system. So how many do change? Psalm 14:1-3 states:
The fool says in his heart, There is no God. They are corrupt, they do abominable deeds, there is none who does good. 2 The Lord looks down from heaven on the children of man, to see if there are any who understand, who seek after God. 3 They have all turned aside; together they have become corrupt; there is none who does good, not even one.
So, I guess my question should be qualified a bit. Can folks change themselves? I would definitely contend that according to scriptures, a big fat No. I can name a whole number of scripture verses that say the same thing. But God can change their heart. He can, if he so chooses, reach down and save the wretched man from his sins and make him new. There will only be one man to live on this earth who was good and that is the God/man Jesus Christ. Jesus lived a sinless life, died an extremely painful death on a cross and satisfied the debt of sin owed God from His chosen. Outside of being redeemed from the sacrificial blood of Christ no one does good. No one can really change.
Check out the trailer below.