Safety Not Guaranteed

October 10, 2013

Hindsight is 20/20. Perhaps this is why so many set their eyes upon the past, as a way to move forward. Because of its clarity, it provides some sort of certainty in living life. This is especially keen when the past feels much better than the present life.

This is the mutually shared feeling between the three lead characters in Safety Not Guaranteed. From the onset, the female protagonist contrasts her past as forgettable, a childhood that was not happy, and actually spiked with a mournful incident. The other two characters, both men longing for past loves, collide their worlds together over the idea of time travel into the past.


It’s interesting how the emphasis of the time machine advertisement of a yokel Washingtonian is its direction toward the past rather than the future. It reveals this impetus of the character’s longing for a world that no longer exists, versus a longing for a better world yet to come. It is also interesting how the film does not examine this emphasis whatsoever, as in it does not come to mind in any of the character’s the thought or the fantasy of moving into the future.


Is uncertainty really that bad? Is risk really that averse? Perhaps this is yet another impression of the Christian man that the future world may be apocalyptic, so it is safer to cling to the certified best possible world, which happened to be in the past. But then is this not regret in the way in which the characters have led their lives between the present and the past? By clinging to the past, is there not a chime of regret about how one has led their lives? This feeling of regret, this want of a do-over in life, informs us that this is the reason why the characters do not seek the future – they would not enjoy what they are destined to become.


Is seeking the past apart of the self-fulfillment of the characters then? How can it be? It is but a confrontation with their reality and the emptiness of their lives. Of course, the time traveler has conviction in his ability to control history. Yet it is reckoned that the application of his genius toward building a time machine could have been used so much more prudently. Yet again, toward creating a more perfect world for posterity. His lavish intellect is wasted on a childish fantasy of chasing after adolescent romance. Are people’s inner ambitions which concentrate like a rearview mirror on the backseat of their lives this empty? Is this what occupies the forefront of the mind of the Last Man?


Grade: A-



Subscribe to our mailing list

Latest Reviews