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Film / Savior

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"Hope is worth fighting for."

A 1998 film about the Bosnian war, starring Dennis Quaid as Joshua "Guy" Rose, a U.S. government officer turned mercenary and Nataša Ninković as Vera, the woman he is escorting to a U.N. safe zone.

Stationed in Paris on embassy guard duty, Josh witnesses the death of his wife (Nastassja Kinski) and son by Muslim suicide bombers. Immediately after the funeral of his wife and son, Joshua storms into the nearest mosque and guns down the worshipers inside. His buddy Peter (Stellan Skarsgård) catches up to him just in time to shoot a survivor who was going to shoot Joshua. To avoid being prosecuted for murder, Joshua and Peter run off to join the French Foreign Legion. After getting bored with the Foreign Legion, Guy and Pete become mercenaries and end up working for the Serbs in the Bosnian War. During a prisoner exchange, Guy encounters Vera and saves her and her child soon afterward.


He becomes her only hope for survival.

She becomes his only hope for redemption.

This film provides examples of:

  • Abandoned War Child: The central plot of the story is kicked off by Guy meeting Vera, a Serb woman captured, raped, and impregnated during The Bosnian War. She is released as part of a prisoner exchange mere hours before giving birth, and the results of trying to go home again aren't pretty for either her or her daughter.
  • Anyone Can Die: Almost everyone who seems like a main character or major supporting character dies during the course of the movie.
  • Ate His Gun: Vera tries to do this with Goran's gun right after giving birth, but is stopped by Guy.
  • Child by Rape: Vera's baby girl is the result of perhaps multiple rapes.
  • Child Soldiers: The little girl who walks up to the guard-post, smiling. Pete offers her some gum. He radios over to Guy, telling him how he don't give a damn about the Captain's stories and how "we're not gonna become baby-killers". Death by Irony ensues.
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  • Church Militant: The Muslims are particularly depicted as such.
  • Crapsack World: The Balkan countryside, where war is a constant, gas is no-where to be found, and none of the tits work.
  • Cruel and Unusual Death: The sledgehammer executions. Apparently, these are based on a real-life execution method used by the Ottoman Turks, who once ruled a large part of the Balkans. The method was later revived by the Croat Ustaše in World War II.
  • Cold Sniper: This is Guy's main role while fighting in the Bosnian War. At one point, given the instruction to shoot anyone who steps over a border line, we see him shoot and kill a young boy who crosses in order to try to fetch a goat that had wandered away from the boy. At the time, Guy doesn't hesitate or bat an eye at doing this.
  • Dangerous Deserter: Guy is seen as one after gunning down Goran.
  • Dead Guy on Display: A Serb priest who had appeared to disapprove of the behavior of Goran is later found lynched and left on display as a warning to the Serbs.
  • Dead Sidekick: Basically everyone who becomes Guy's sidekick or companion dies during the film. Peter, Goran, Vera, they all perish in one way or another.
  • Die Laughing: Goran laughs at Guy's reprimands and weapon aimed at him. He swings his own gun around, but not fast enough.
  • Doomed Hometown: Shortly after Vera is forced out of her hometown, the town is wiped out as fighting swings through it.
  • Drop the Hammer: In the scene at the beach, the marauders' brute uses a huge hammer to deliver the killing blow to Vera.
  • Evil Versus Evil: No side in the war is portrayed as being in the right or more positively. They're all full of vicious, brutal, war criminals.
  • Face Death with Dignity: Vera doesn't show any fear or try to run or beg during the massacre at the beach. She simply sings a nursery rhyme to comfort her daughter.
  • Genre Blindness: Goran advises Guy to not be so naive about the "truce". Peter refuses to believe the stories about Child Soldiers.
  • Honor-Related Abuse: Vera's father can't abide that she got raped by a Muslim. After she returns home he tracks her down with the intention of performing a honor killing, but is talked out of it by Vera's brother.
  • Improbable Infant Survival: At one point in the movie a young baby left in a war zone is killed, and while Vera's baby survives she almost dies several times during the course of the film, and each time creates genuine suspense.
  • Interrupted Suicide: Vera attempts to kill herself with Goran's gun right after giving birth. Guy stops her at the last minute.
  • Kick the Dog: All over the place. Rape, murder, killing children, civilian massacres, they're all present, and committed by all sides in the conflict.
  • Kill the Ones You Love: Almost happens when Guy puts his hand over the baby's mouth to keep her noise from giving away their position.
  • Leave No Survivors: The whole point of ethnic cleansing.
  • Living MacGuffin: Guy makes it his personal mission to keep the baby safe at all costs.
  • Meaningful Funeral: Subverted, as Joshua storms away from the funeral of his wife and soon as soon as the ceremony is done to get revenge.
  • Meaningful Name:
    • Peter much like the apostle, is a truly loyal friend.
    • A rose is a flower of great meaning, given to signify love or mourning.
    • Josh changes his name to "Guy", becoming an "anonymous everyman".
    • Vera is a common name in Slavic nations meaning "faith".
  • Moral Myopia: When the truce is signed, Goran gleefully goes to take advantage of it by killing or stealing from any non-Serbs that he can. When Goran is attacked during the truce, he is furious and calls the helicopters firing on them "betrayers" and "motherfuckers" for breaking the truce.
  • My God, What Have I Done?: After a long period as a hardened, emotionally dead sniper, Guy is forced to take an up close and personal look at a young boy that he had shot earlier for no real reason. It snaps Guy out of his numb state and makes him begin to act like a human being again instead of a killing machine.
  • No One Gets Left Behind: The Foreign Legion stressed this point. Later, we see Guy snipe several Bosnian troops who venture out to retrieve their fallen comrades.
  • No Woman's Land: Systematic rape of captured women has a way of turning a country into this.
  • "Not So Different" Remark: Goran brags that he and other Serbs rape captured Bosnian women. Guy points out that the Bosnians do the same to captured Serbian women.
  • Pet the Dog:
    • Even before truly reclaiming his humanity, Guy prevents Goran from discovering a young baby that Goran would likely kill if he were to find.
    • Of all the people, the Croat officer in charge of the beach massacre does this. After having a brute with a hammer kill many unarmed civilians, including Vera before the rest of the rounded up civilians are wiped out by gunfire, the officer investigates a noise from where Guy and the baby are hiding. If he finds them, he will definitely kill them, but while looking for the noise he heard, he sees a young stray cat. The officer assumes it was the cat that made the noise, and takes it with him with the clear intention of taking care of it, mere moments after ordering the deaths of dozens of people.
  • Plunder: Goran chopping a ring off a dying woman's finger.
  • Post-Rape Taunt: When Goran is boasting to Guy about raping a young Bosnian woman, she curses at him. He purposely mistranslates for Guy, saying, "You know what she said? She said I was the best she ever had!"
  • Sociopathic Soldier: Goran has more in common with a mad or rabid dog than a decent human being. Even before starting to regain his humanity, Guy seems disgusted with Goran.
  • War Is Hell: Pretty much the entire point of the film.