Updated: Feb 19, 2021
As with all movies on this website, our goal is not to provide a complete synopsis of the movie, but rather to document how the movie relates to the meaning of life. With that said, be forewarned, there are still spoilers ahead.
Fallen was released in 1998, written by Nicholas Kazan and directed by Gregory Hoblit; starring Denzel Washington (John Hobbes) and John Goodman (Jonesy). The film is about good versus evil, and surprisingly, also the meaning of life ... or the lack thereof.
Both John and Jonesy are detectives that come across a string of unusual cases which they cannot seem to wrap their head around. Slowly but surely, John puts two and two together, and it leads him down the path of religion, gods, and demons—the supernatural and the paranormal. The main adversary in the movie is a demon named Azazel, who can change bodies via touch, or in some cases, e.g., in the case of death of the host, non-touch.
But let's skip the summary and get to the meaning of life stuff (again, you can find a much better outline on many other sites).
After killing a man which Azazel inhabited, John goes back to the precinct and has a heart to heart with Jonesy, and the following conversation ensues.
John: What's the point of life? Huh, Jonesy?
Jonesy: The point?
Jonesy: Of life?
Jonesy: The point of life. You want a cigarette?
John: No, thanks.
Jonesy: The point of life is, we catch bad guys.
John: Yeah. That's what I used to think. It's not good enough, Jones. You're going to shoot me for talking like this, but...
Jonesy: Hey, it's 2 in the morning. You can talk any way you want.
John: What are we doing here? You know what I'm saying? I mean, why do we even exist—us?
Jonesy: Maybe it's God, Hobbes.
John: Yeah, could be. I have a hard time believing that we're ... part of some huge ... moral experiment, you know, conducted by a greater being than us. I mean, if there's a greater being than we are, why does he give a shit about us? 5 billion of us. We're like ants. I mean, do we care what ants do—you know, from a moral standpoint?
Jonesy: Ants? No.
John: Right. So.
Jonesy: Hobbes, I'm following you, but at the same time, I'm losing you. I mean, are you heading someplace here?
John: That's my point, Jonesy. Are we headed someplace? And if we don't figure it out...
Jonesy: Maybe if you figure it out ... you die. Heart attack, strike—you figure out what's what, you don't get to hang around anymore. You get promoted. Meanwhile Dolores ... she says we're put here to do one thing.
John: One thing? What's that?
Jonesy: It's different. It's different for everybody. Her's is lasagna.
John: Lasagna. And just one thing? Not, like, two or three or....
Jonesy: Maybe two. I don't know. It's just her opinion, Hobbes. But it's like, when the moment comes, we either do the right thing ... or wrong.
John: And when do you know when your moment comes?
John: So, like, this could me it for me?
Jonesy: That's the beauty. You never know.
So as you can see, the answer to the big question is addressed, but never completely answered. Work, God, religion, etc. are touched upon as answers ... but leave both characters unsatisfied.
Getting back to the movie, John ends up tricking Azazel to come out to an abandoned house in the woods, and everyone dies. Well, except Azazel of course.... John and Jonesy, well, they "tried" to do the right thing, tried to fulfill a purpose, tried to give life meaning, and both died pointlessly. Nihilism prevails.
Oh, and this isn't the first time John Goodman has contemplated the meaning of life. He can also be found philosophizing on the TV show Roseanne.
Overall - 10 Meaning of Life Relevance - 4 Uniqueness – 7 Have you seen the movie? If so, comment below at the bottom of the page and let us know your thoughts.