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Person of Interest

Jim Caviezel

1,293 words

Recently, while staying with a friend who had just gotten out of the hospital, I was exposed to a good deal of TV. Two shows caught my attention: Downton Abbey (more on that later) and Person of Interest, which runs on CBS on Thursday nights. At first, I thought Person of Interest might merely serve to tide me over until the next seasons of Burn Notice and Breaking Bad.

Like Burn Notice, the main character of Person of Interest is an ex-spy who uses his craft to help ordinary people in need. Like Burn Notice, there are also longer storylines that arch over multiple episodes.

But now, having watched the first 15 episodes of Person of Interest, I have to say that I like Person of Interest even better than Burn Notice, which is high praise indeed.

The premise of Person of Interest is that after 9/11, the US government created a computer network, “the machine,” which reads all of our emails, tracks our transactions, listens to our phone calls, and analyzes all video feeds in order to predict acts of terrorism, or as they say now, in honor of George W. Bush, “terror” (pronounced with one syllable). The machine can also predict acts of violence against ordinary citizens. But the government does nothing to stop those.

The creator of the machine is a reclusive billionaire, Mr. Finch, is played by Michael Emerson (Ben in Lost, i.e., the most interesting character in the longest-running, most obnoxious cheat in television history). Finch is haunted by the fates of the random innocents the government does nothing to protect. Surely, he also feels a bit guilty for having turned Uncle Sam into Big Brother—although we learn that he tried to build in protections against that.

Finch decides he wants to try to make the world a better place by preventing the crimes the government will do nothing to stop. But he is a geek with a gimp, so he has to hire a tough guy, John Reese, a former US Army Special Forces soldier and CIA operative who is haunted by the evils he did for Uncle Sam. Reese is played by Jim Caviezel, who played Jesus in Mel Gibson’s The Passion of the Christ. Together Finch and Reese seek to prevent crimes while being hunted as criminal vigilantes by the CIA and the New York City police (where the show is set).

Jim Caviezel is immensely impressive as John Reese. The only other role I had seen him in was Jesus in The Passion of the Christ, and it was not really a good gauge of his talents, given that he spent the movie speaking Aramaic and getting the bejeezus beaten out of him.

Caviezel is a tall, slim, blue-eyed man in his 40s with graying brown hair. But his most arresting features are his soft voice and astonishingly mobile face. Both are remarkably subtle and expressive. His face is handsome in repose, but when he acts, it is a play of light and shadow, in which every line, wrinkle, and crag communicates a deep and complex character. One has the impression that as age etches more lines in Caviezel’s face, he will only grow more charismatic and expressive.

But Caviezel’s John Reese is more than just soulful. He is also a man of action who is extremely handy with every known weapon, including his bare hands. He is definitely a man you want on your side. Reese is a classic Nordic hero: laconic, intelligent, self-aware, noble, and courageous. He does his duty without concern for the consequences to himself or others. (He leaves those for the gods to sort out.) He is deadly serious about serious things, but he also has an ironic touch when dealing with the petty and absurd.

Like Michael Westen in Burn Notice, John Reese exemplifies what Julius Evola calls Uranian masculinity. He is not a playboy or skirt chaser. He is focused on his mission and his ideals, which creates an aloof and emotionally self-contained quality — not unlike the Taoist sage-emperor or Aristotle’s unmoved mover — that is enormously attractive to higher types of women.

If Caviezel had been born a few decades earlier, he could have given Clint Eastwood serious competition for his iconic gunslinger and detective roles — and in fair auditions, he would have beaten Eastwood every time. Imagine a Dirty Harry who actually felt he was dirty.

As the series unfolds, we learn that Reese came to hate himself for the things he did in the service of America. He has lost all fear of death and attachment to life. He feels that he has lost his soul. Hence his willingness to put his life on the line day after day, and his cold-blooded calm in the face of danger. But of course Reese still has his soul, or a smoldering ember of one, because he risks death only for what is right. He is really fighting for redemption. (This is a far nobler quest — and one with far greater dramatic potential — than Michael Westen’s desire in Burn Notice to get his soul-killing job back and find out who burned him.)

Person of Interest is one of the best written shows on television. It is on par with Breaking Bad, one of the finest television shows of all time, in my opinion. It is written and produced by one of the best writers around: Jonathan Nolan, the brother of Christopher Nolan, director of Memento, The Prestige, The Dark Knight, Inception, etc. Jonathan Nolan co-authored the scripts to The Prestige, The Dark Knight, and its sequel The Dark Knight Rises, which is now in production.

Person of Interest is mercifully free of political correctness. Yes, one of the admirable characters is a black female police officer, yet she is wholly believable. But there is no egregious casting against stereotype.

The portrayal of the US government is entirely negative. The CIA are portrayed as treacherous and callous killers who obviously have no sense of allegiance to the United States. They sell drugs to Americans to finance the war on “terror,” that is to say, the war against the enemies of Israel and Jews around the world. They refer to operations in the US as being “behind enemy lines” or “in country.” (One wonders if they speak of Israel that way.) The NYC police are portrayed as riddled with corruption and cynicism.

“The machine” is Orwell’s nightmare made real. (It is prefigured in The Dark Knight.) But the true obscenity is that it is not even used to fight crime. It is the perfect illustration of Sam Francis’ concept of “anarcho-tyranny”: the government violates the privacy of every decent, law-abiding citizen while allowing crime and corruption to run unchecked.

Jim Caviezel is a devout Roman Catholic. He is married with three children. His mother was Irish-American. His father is of Slovak and Swiss descent. The name Caviezel is Romansh, the language indigenous to Switzerland. Caviezel is also politically conservative. He has donated to Rick Santorum. He also made a commercial opposing embryonic stem cell research. From a white racialist point of view, these are not issues that matter, but I admire Caviezel’s courage for taking politically incorrect stands.

Despite his evident talent, Caviezel has suffered career discrimination for playing Jesus in The Passion of the Christ, since Jews in Hollywood (and everywhere else) do not forgive or forget. Frankly, Person of Interest may well be his last chance before doing dinner theater. For that reason alone, I would be inclined to root for this show. But Person of Interest is good enough to recommend on its own merits. If you must watch television, then by all means, watch Person of Interest.

 

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9 Comments

  1. Lew
    Posted February 18, 2012 at 12:25 pm | Permalink

    When I do watch TV, I almost never watch ABC, NBC, or CBS. I generally gravitate to paid programming like Mad Men, Dexter, Sons of Anarchy and, of course, Breaking Bad; however, I watched the first episode of Person of Interest last fall and found it intriguing. I might give it a try based on this review. It’s a shame how Jim Caviezel is being treated by Hollywood. Just when I think I’ve run out of reasons to hate Jews, I always find another one. It never fails.

  2. B.B.
    Posted February 18, 2012 at 2:00 pm | Permalink

    Trevor Lynch said:
    Person of Interest is mercifully free of political correctness. Yes, one of the admirable characters is a black female police officer, yet she is wholly believable. But there is no egregious casting against stereotype.

    I only watched the first episode, but from what I recall it involved a bunch of white cops framing an innocent black guy. Looked pretty PC to me.

  3. fwood1
    Posted February 18, 2012 at 6:01 pm | Permalink

    Caviezel was very good in the 2002 version of The Count of Monte Cristo, which I recommend.

  4. Barbara
    Posted February 19, 2012 at 6:16 am | Permalink

    Imagine a cell made up of John Reeses. Then imagine dozens of such cells located in every Western nation on Earth. Then imagine that their mission is to assassinate enemies of the West who are in positions of power or influence. Imagine that the government also has biological weapons that can target race based upon DNA.

  5. Dan Kurt
    Posted February 19, 2012 at 11:28 am | Permalink

    On Jim Caviezel:

    1) rent or buy the Movie THE THIN RED LINE. Caviezel is the central character in this marvelous adaption of James Jones’ novel loosely based on WWII in the Solomons. It is free to watch if one has AMAZON PRIME. ( Amazon Prime is essentially free if one buys a lot from Amazon given its free shipping and other benefits.)

    2) Jim Caviezel would be the IDEAL actor to be cast as Jack Reacher if author Lee Child’s Reacher novels are brought to the screen. If one has not read any of them take my advice and pick up a used copy for cheap and enjoy. BTW, Dolpf Lundgren in his prime would have been the image of Jack Reacher but Lundgren’s wooden acting would have destroyed the effect. Jim Caviezel offers the physical presence needed and his acting range including his aura of menace toward the forces of evil as shown in his role in Person of Interest gives him the perfect fit for the Reacher role.

    Dan Kurt

    • Shayne L.
      Posted February 20, 2012 at 1:37 am | Permalink

      Tom Cruise has been cast as Reacher in “One Shot”. I can’t explain how 5 foot 8 Cruise would be cast as a 6 foot 5, 250 pound tough guy, but that’s Hollywood for you.

  6. Greg Paulson
    Posted February 19, 2012 at 12:44 pm | Permalink

    I am intrigued. I enjoy reading reviews like this, especially from Trevor Lynch, as we seem to have very similar tastes. I never would have considered the show because I watch next to no TV and likely wouldn’t have found the promotional description very interesting. This review changed that.

    Most of my core personal criticisms, what ultimately made Burn Notice uninteresting and unwatchable for me were mentioned in this review too.

    I also agree with the author’s assessment of Breaking Bad, which, by the way, you can watch on Netflix instant play (the first three seasons anyway).

    I think if you are going to watch television/movies, Netflix is the lesser of the evils. We want as little of our precious resources as possible redistributed to the parasites that run Hollywood. The money you would spend on cable/satellite entertainment would be better spent on a donation to Counter-Currents, as they offer superior entertainment (in many ways) that is healthy as opposed to “paying for poison.”

    I will give this show a try in a future ration of mindless entertainment.

  7. jack
    Posted February 19, 2012 at 6:39 pm | Permalink

    It is a shame (I presume) that Mr Lynch did not watch any of the Star Trek series especially Deep Space 9 that is the most character driven and political of the series as it would be good to read his analysis of the series’ different races.

  8. Posted February 27, 2012 at 2:00 pm | Permalink

    I heard Jim Cavizel speak at a church in the San Fernando Valley several months back. He’s an interesting man who still thinks he’s Jesus. I dig him and if you want to see a couple of other great films he’s in check out Ride with the Devil (1999) and The Thin Red Line (1998).

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