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The 7 Moral Failings of the Movie Calibre Explained
I stumbled upon Calibre in the unlikeliest of ways. Netflix recommendations. They may work for you, but generally? They don’t work for me. So much so that I occasionally ask around my family to see if anyone else is using my account to watch Care Bears or something. But this time? Netflix totally stuck the landing.
Basically Calibre is a modern day morality tale – maybe even a fable? If we do those anymore. A story that tells the story of two buddies going hunting in the Scottish highlands. Pretty much every single thing that could go wrong, does go wrong here. Like, all of it. And all the while? The viewing audience just stares at the screen transfixed as all this downward spiraling goes down. But, I probably like dark movies way, way more than most. So I’m not 100% you’ll enjoy this. But I thought it was a good ride and had some fantastic moral ambiguity to it that I figured we could unpack together.
High Level Calibre Overview
Vaughn and Marcus. Two friends. One, in love with hunting, (or tracking as our dear, wonderful friends across the pond might say) which would be Marcus, and another, who isn’t so much. But together, they decide to head off together into the Scottish highlands in order to experience this adventure together. But they go anyway, and Vaughn tries to make the most of it anyway.
Their first night in the small village, known for hosting hunters and in a bit of a financial snag, goes fairly pear-shaped. Two local girls choose to hang out with Vaughn and Marcus, and even despite the local warnings, they press on anyway. Well, the next day, hung over, and not in any shape to hunt at all, Vaughn and Marcus head out. And after only an hour or so, there is a doe, straight ahead! And Vaughn, having seen him first, lines the shot up (and can I say, that even though I am nothing of a hunter, his choice to aim for the deer’s HEAD?!? was a brilliant choice from the cinematographer to show his cluelessness. The head? hahaha. Everyone knows you shoot a deer in the heart, behind the front leg) and fires. Only problem? The deer moved, and there was a boy standing where the deer’s head had recently been.
Vaughn had succeeded in accidentally killing a young boy by shooting him in the head. Awful.
Moral Dilemma #1 of Calibre
Accidents are terrible. The worst. Hit an old lady crossing the street accidentally as she steps from behind a blind spot? Awful. Bump a teen into a spinning grain bin spinner? Terrible. Stumble into the path of an oncoming train. Horrific. Bad things happen to good people. This is truth. But that is an accident. In America, this guy would be charged with manslaughter… but I would guess that it wouldn’t be a chargeable offense. Scotland, maybe? But I doubt it. Would love to hear from some of my friends across the pond on this legal quagmire.
But this situation gets way worse. (Can this get worse? Oh, and quickly…) The boy’s father comes around the bend and sees what’s just happened, and he comes (understandably) completely unhinged. And the next thing Vaughn knows is that the father has his rifle pointed at his chest. He is ready to take revenge for the killing of his son. Granted, this guy’s anger is justified, but this is our moral misstep number 1.
Moral Dilemma #2 of Calibre
Then, Marcus, ever at the ready, sees this young man’s father pointing his rifle at Vaughn. And he shoots him in the heart from a hundred yards away. Which has taken this accidental death of this boy, and has now flipped it into murder. It is now murder in the first. Or at the very least, second.
Think about it. Hunting trip, and this hunting trip has gone sideways. And now, not only is it a horrible tragedy, but it is now a murder. Vaughn is standing there… still alive. But only technically. He started the chain of events by aiming for this deer’s head and missing. Which, is just a bummer really. Normally, the deer books it out of there, c’est la vie. That was only the first hour of their hunt, maybe they’ll get another opportunity later. But instead? A boy and his father are now dead.
Moral Dilemma #3 of Calibre
The moral collapse avalanche just continues to tumble and roar in this movie. Obviously, Vaughn and Marcus have got to get on top of this now. But realistically? Vaughn needs to walk away. I get it that they believe that the locals are going to kill them… but they need to just go to the cops. But instead, Marcus convinces Vaughn that they are going to need to come back in order to bury the bodies.
Moral Dilemma #4 of Calibre
After Vaughn and Marcus head back to the town, and have dinner with Brian McClay, it’s obvious that the town is sort of onto them. The town is teetering on the edge financially. They are on their last rope from a tourist and expedition standpoint. And these two guys seem important to the town and represent something bigger. And yet, it’s believed that the people of the town should defend themselves from the likes of Marcus and Vaughn.
Later that night, the two friends head back out to the two bodies, and bury them as deeply as they can. But, because the bullets will point back to Marcus, like fingerprints, Marcus decides to carve one of the bullets out of the child’s head. Which, is a whole different level of wrong. I mean, not ethically, I guess. Is it? I don’t know at this point. But it is really messed up.
Moral Dilemma #5 of Calibre
And when it is discovered that a man, and his son, (who were related to the McClays somehow, I couldn’t quite figure it out) had gone missing? Vaughn and Marcus are asked to join in on the hunt. They are given back their jeep, and told that they are expected to lend a hand.
So they do.
If ever they needed to pull the ripcord on this duplicitousness, it’s right now. But nope. They don’t. Instead they breathe a sigh of relief with the cars head past the turnout where they died. But don’t worry! They have dogs! And the dogs will track down where they were killed, and they’ll do it really really quickly! hahahah.
Moral Dilemma #6 of Calibre
The next few minutes of Calibre are out of control. I recently reviewed the movie Us and Them, and it downward spirals similarly, but this seems so much more wrong, and raw than that. Soon Vaughn is caught, bloodied, and convinced to spill his guts on exactly what they had done. Everything goes Saving Private Ryan on the beaches of Normandy as he’s talking, so we don’t know exactly what he’s saying. BUT! We can be pretty sure he tells the truth by what happens next.
A little while later, Marcus is tracked down and brought in. Very quickly the McClays are pretty sure they want to kill them both. But, rightly, they realize that they will quickly be caught, and all visitors to the area will quickly dry up and the town will die. So instead, they come to a really dastardly compromise. Either Vaughn shoots Marcus, or they will kill them both. And after some serious anguish, Vaughn decides to do it. Vaughn Shoot Marcus in the chest, and he dies.
Moral Dilemma #7 of Calibre
But Marcus is dead, how can their be a seventh moral dilemma? Well, as the movie is ending, there is Vaughn, with his newborn. And he turns and stares at the camera. I assume you know that normally when an actor looks at the camera, the take is thrown away, and they have to do it again. Right? It’s called staring down the barrel. Barrel of the gun? Vaughn stares down the barrel of the camera as he contemplates what he’s done, and what he should do.
The moral dilemma? You don’t know what the seventh moral dilemma is?!? Oh come on! I can’t WORK IN THESE CONDITIONS!!! heheh. Cough. Sorry. That was kinda loud. Anyway, he is trapped! He really needs to admit what he did. To his wife. (Who, I am certain had a TON of questions as to where Marcus was. As to why his face was battered, etc.) To his family. To the police. Oh, I don’t know, to Marcus’ family?
Final Thoughts on Calibre
This movie is not really a movie per se. But rather a Philosophy 101 dilemma on your first exam test. ESSAY QUESTION 1 a) So you accidentally kill a boy while hunting, and your best friend kills the boys’ father trying to protect you. What do you do now and why? (Crib sheet: any other answer than, run for the cops ends up with you and your friend dead, or wishing you were dead.)
Moral relativism is bogus in my mind. It ends up with all kinds of explanations and excuses that end up with you self justifying your own evilness. To treat others like you would like to be treated is not me being a dork. It’s me thinking that there is a big T truth out there, and life is better with a deeper sense of morality, than a sense of your own self importance. But maybe that’s just me. How exactly would you have responded if your friend tried to “protect you” too? What are your thoughts on the movie?
Edited by, CY