One of the most unforgettable movie-going events my wife and I experienced happened ten years ago when we went to watch Steven Spielberg‘s War of the Worlds. We were in Nova Scotia at the time, and it was two years after Hurricane Juan had hit the Dartmouth/Halifax area. Naturally, we were all apprehensive when storms were brewing off the coast that summer, and that night was no exception. To add to the creepiness, it was ice-cold inside the theater. I was sure it would take me a week to thaw from the air conditioning.
If you’ve been following this site long, you’ll know I write my feature Wednesday Warriors for those characters I feel are larger than life or strong in overcoming tribulation. Ray Ferrier (Tom Cruise) is one of those characters.
I have to say one thing about Tom Cruise. A lot of folks are not into Tom Cruise the man, mainly for his views on psychology or his ties with Scientology or the highly publicized couch-jumping incident on Oprah. War of the Worlds came out while he was courting Katie Holmes. However, regarding Tom Cruise the actor, it is my opinion he is one of the most overlooked actors in the film industry. He should have won an Oscar for his work in Magnolia. The characters he portrays have a quiet vulnerability that shows well on the big screen.
The film War of the Worlds revolves around a father’s quest to protect his children at all costs. Not alien, human or anything else can get in his way to earning the title “Dad”. In a story where one thing goes wrong after another, and the state of the main characters spirals into a dark pit of depression, Ray takes it upon himself to keep everyone sane and safe.
Dealing with an alien invasion is one thing, but in this movie, the audience can feel the frost as Ray’s breath turns to vapor while dashing between buildings with the hope of seeing the storm that is brewing overhead. Unknown to him, the storm is more than a natural occurrence. The churning in the sky signals an ominous force ready to change his life and the lives of those he loves.
Unlike the regular Hollywood heroes who can fight through anything and come out of a battle unscathed, Ray has a complex personality. He’s not likable. He’s not the best father in the world. And, if anything, he is one of the most selfish characters a moviegoer will ever encounter. But when the invasion finally hits, Ray’s instincts kick in and he becomes the one who leads those who depend on him for freedom.
Ray’s fears take a major role in the plot, making him as ordinary as the audience viewing his growth throughout the film. What was once a man filled with assertion of his abilities, transforms into an unlikely hero with weaknesses and vulnerabilities. The key to Ray is his kids. Without his kids, he might as well not live, as denoted in one scene where he had to let one of them go.
Soon after having watched the film and exiting the theater, it had begun to rain. My wife and I dashed to our car and wondered if an alien invasion was in the midst of those clouds.
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Have you seen War of the Worlds? What are your thoughts about Ray Ferrier in the film?