We are inclined to ignore the obvious on a first viewing, because it is almost ridiculous. We are surprised to hear our mercenary hero solicitous of a young mercenary. Why should he care? Even when the hero ventures forth seeking revenge, we are reluctant. On a second viewing, we are convinced: The boy is his son. Why should he want a family? Why should he fear death? The boy’s virtues of body impress the men & send them reminiscing.
He is admirable. It emerges he has no virtue of spirit. He left the army because of the senseless killing. He was shocked that his command would kill some stray dog he’d adopted. The boy does not think enough of the job to be done. He does not fear death enough to be careful. He is too eager, enthusiastic even. Maybe the mercenary picked a sniper because he wanted his son to be safe, to fight from a distance.
The boy defies the villain, even when he sees his betters abase themselves rather than provoke the man. He denies that he fears death. Perhaps he really does not: He is certainly spirited, but his spiritedness is no virtue of spirit, because he lacks cunning. At any rate, he wants to abandon warring. There is a French nurse he met in Afghanistan he wants to marry…
The villain seems to be amused by such idealism. It is evidence that it is the better part of cunning to butcher the fearless. For his part, the mercenary has skulls depicted on all his possessions. Is it to remind himself of the end, or others? He knows idealists are no match for the ambitious. They may all be fearless, but the ambitious are more aware that rather than fight for a cause, they need to cause the fighting. Maybe the difference between idealism & world-historical gangsters is planning.
The men bury their dead. They read over the grave – we learn in this way that one’s dearest wishes are one’s last will & testament. Is all human endeavor bound to fail? Or is it that men choose to die for that which they hold dearest? Perhaps the noble death is the ugly truth.
The men suggest they may marry the women of some village ravaged by the villain. They would protect the women, have children, & rule that city. They also suggest they could only succeed erotically there, because they are unerotic. So is necessity, apparently. One of twin lions dresses up as a priest. He speaks of death as a ceremony of marriage. That is the culmination of a long series of comparisons of knives & penetration. Does the god of war favor his votaries?