If you could vanish from society and start a new life, what would you do?
Directed by Michael Bay, the movie sees six self-appointed action heroes toppling a cruel dictator in the fictional country of Turgistan. Led by a nameless billionaire, played by Ryan Reynolds, they do so in Bay-typical fashion: with lots of guns, cars, one-liners, and explosions.
Despite its over-the-top action and straightforward plot, there’s a deeper meaning behind the films flashy facade: It’s a movie about what it means to live your one life right.
To carry out their operation without getting nabbed at the first airport, the team must first fake their own deaths. Sitting in a diner, they muse over the benefits: No more DMV lines, Christmas shopping, or work email addresses. No more taxes, criminal records, or getting arrested for being drunk.
Having already faked his death in a plane crash, Reynolds’ character then schools them all: “You’ve got it all wrong, you know. When you’re young, you lock yourself into all these bad decisions. Marriages, mortgages, all that kind of stuff. But you die, it’s all erased. Poof! Gone.”
And then, casually inserting a profound insight into a charming yet obscene rant like only Ryan Reynolds can, he delivers the punchline:
You’re not a sniper, stunt driver, or parkour virtuoso. No genius billionaire will recruit you for his spy unit. Your bad decisions will never be erased. If you let them pile up, they’ll keep piling up, and each day, the mountain of regret will grow a little taller.
Regret is saying, “I’m not ready to launch my startup,” and then hoping one friend agrees. Regret is backing out of the tournament at the last second and then finding you can’t laugh it off. Regret is missing your son’s first table tennis game and then realizing there’ll be no more firsthand firsts the day he moves out.
Regret is everything that you could, would, and should have done, were it not for [insert reasonable but invalid excuse].
I have many regrets. Do you? The weight of that mountain won’t go away.
It never feels like it in the moment. This decision? Nah. We couldn’t heap rocks onto Mount Everest! But we do. We do every day.
A tiny hill of sand — that’s how it starts. “Wow! It’s so light, this decision. What’s a little more sand?” Time feels good when it runs through your fingers.
Soon enough, one day becomes ten. One year becomes five. Before you know it, you’re shoveling opportunities into the fire — and what feels like air in the moment will later drop like a stone.
A train at full speed wants to keep going. The beast needs coal, and it will devour everything you offer. It won’t crash like a prop car, but the trail of regret it leaves behind? That can stack to the skies. In the end, you’ll only cower in its wake.
A clear slate is a fantasy. You don’t have the means to fake your own death. No dynamite to blow up the mountain.
What you do have, however, is the freedom to choose. It’s something you’ve always had, always will have, and what you choose is all that matters.
That’s the true lesson of the movie: Forget the rules! You don’t need to erase your past to take charge of your future.
The only way to live without regret is to realize you’re already free. You have one life and one life alone, and in that fact, you’ll find all the freedom you need.
The freedom to start before you feel ready. The freedom to try something new. The freedom to show up when you decide it counts.
Stop piling up regrets. Start living! Don’t wait for a chance to start over. Don’t wait for critics to change their minds. We all make mistakes — but we can decide to not let them define us.
What you choose is all that matters. Choose what matters every day.