Last week I got to see this amazing film “Real Steel” with my husband Rick and our daughter Arra. The film is based on “Steel” – a 1956 short story by “I Am Legend” author Richard Matheson and was directed by Shawn Levy who also directed “Pink Panther” (2006), “Night At The Museum” and “Date Night”. A brief synopsis says that it’s a movie set in a future where robots have replaced humans in the boxing ring. A former boxer teams up with his estranged son to turn a discarded training robot into a champion.
I am not here to write a review of the film itself but rather to share with you some of the valuable lessons I picked up from this movie that are worth reflecting upon this weekend. But first, let me go over a few observations I made by listing them down in no particular order:
- On one hand, Charlie (Hugh Jackman) easily struck me as a man who is incapable of making wise decisions and who easily gave up on himself, on other people, and on a lot of other things. However, later in the movie, it became apparent to me that it was not that he is incapable of making wise decisions. It was just that he is terrible at it. Although commitment was obviously not his cup of tea, he surely displayed a fierce sense of “never give up, never surrender” commitment to his chosen sport — the high-tech sport of robot boxing.
- Further on into the film, another realization came upon me. Charlie’s real issue is more a lack of faith in himself than anything else. His being terrible at staying committed to people, facing his responsibilities, and seeing things beyond face value is more out of his fear that he isn’t good enough to offer anybody anything.
- Finally, it isn’t the case that Charlie is a good-for-nothing runaway Dad or a former boxer who just didn’t make it far. As it turns out, he was really good at what he does. He just lost the most important part of who he truly was – his heart.
- From Max I learned that “not giving up on something” doesn’t simply mean you look at a piece of junk, determine what useful parts you can get out of it and then throw it away once you’re done with it. Instead, it should mean putting in the hard work in getting it out of the mud and dirt under which it is buried, even if it means staying up all night and getting soaked in the rain to do it. You just don’t leave it laying there. You get it out of there and you clean it and you do everything you can to make it better. That’s what it means to fight for something.
- I also learned from Max that you don’t get to trade family for money. It may sound ridiculous and you might even mutter a “Duh” under your breath, but that’s what Charlie did in the beginning. Signing over (or rather, selling) his paternal and parental rights to Max over to Max’s aunt and uncle. When they found themselves in a similar situation because somebody tried to offer them good money in exchange for ATOM, yes, ATOM may not technically be family ’cause he is just a robot, but it didn’t matter to Max. To Max, ATOM was his robot, and therefore nobody was going to take ATOM away from him. Many of us trade our family for something else. Probably not for money, but other similar things that we think at the moment are of far greater value – career, relationships outside the family, etc.
- The relationship between Max and ATOM seemed to me to be a really good example of what the relationship is really like between God and me. Before God found me, I felt useless, weak, forgotten and rejected. God patiently dug me out of the mud I was buried deeply in and cleaned me up until I was like new again. He never gives up on me and He is constantly “upgrading” my system by educating me and nurturing my soul every single day. Like ATOM, I recognize His voice that directs my every move as I go through the bouts of life and if I would just continue tuning in to His voice, I will be successful at blocking and dodging the punches of my enemy. Even if I don’t hear His voice sometimes, all I need to do is to fix my eyes upon Him and I’ll be fine.
- And yes, of course, as the movie’s tag line says, “Courage is stronger than steel”, I learned that sometimes, winning is not about knocking your opponent out but about making sure that you get back up every time you get knocked down. Well, courage is that force that pulls you back up on your feet no matter how many times you get knocked down.
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