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An Overview Of The Movie Armageddon English Literature Essay

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: English Literature
Wordcount: 5131 words Published: 1st Jan 2015

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The movie “Armageddon” is a science fiction film about a planet-killing asteroid whose collision course will crash the Earth. The scientists at NASA plan to detonate a nuclear bomb under the asteroid’s surface that will break it in two, causing it to miss the collision with the Earth. One bomb must be buried at least 800 feet below the surface so in order to achieve their goal, the scientists from NASA locate the best oil driller on the planet: Bruce Willis (Harry Stamper), our main character to perform this heroic job. He accepts the task, but he claimed he needed his crew to ensure the job is going to be done properly. Harry’s seven best work partners and friends are called upon to save the planet by going to the space risking their lives.

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It’s important to highlight that one of the guys called for this mission is fiancé of Harry’s daughter (Ben Affleck as A.J.), reason why their relationship is quite rough. The mission is set up and the final plan is to divide the crew in two different ships: the Independence and Freedom military space shuttles, so Harry decides to set AJ as the leader of the second shuttle, being himself the leader of the Freedom ship.

As they approach the asteroid, the Independence shuttle is hit and crash-landed on the asteroid, killing most of its crew. The Freedom landed on the surface but missed the target zone, arriving on an area of hard iron that was difficult to drill.

After several difficulties, Harry put AJ in charge of the machine to finish the drilling and they successfully reached the necessary depth. The team lowed the nuclear bomb into the hole, but they were caught in a rockstorm that damaged the remote on the bomb. With the time over them, the team knew that someone had to stay behind to detonate the bomb. AJ is randomly selected to stay behind after drawing straws, but Harry disables his air supply and takes his place with the main intention of sending AJ back to Earth to marry his daughter so they could live happily ever after.

1.1 Main Characters

As part of an overview of the film, I will enlist here the main characters that are part of both teams, but their deeper description and analysis about their characteristics and their relations in between them will be further explained in the analysis rubric.

Bruce Willis as Harry Stamper:

Protagonist and leader of shuttle Freedom drill team. Grace’s Father and “the” best oil driller all over the world.

Ben Affleck as A.J. Frost:

Secondary protagonist; leader of shuttle Independence drill team and Grace’s fiancé

Will Patton as Charles “Chick” Chapple:

Harry’s best friend and drill team member of shuttle Freedom.

Ken Hudson Campbell as Max Lennert:

Operator of the Armadillo

Steve Buscemi as Rockhound:

Geologist of shuttle Freedom

Clark Heathcliffe Brolly as Freddy Noonan:

Member of the shuttle Independence drill team

Michael C. Duncan as Jayotis “Bear” Kurleenbear:

Operator of the armadillo for shuttle Independence

Owen Wilson as Oscar Choice:

Geologist of shuttle Independence

Live Tyler as Grace Stamper:

Harry’s daughter, and A.J’s fiancé

Billy Bob Thornton as Dan Truman:

NASA Executive Director, and Armageddon’s Project Manager.

1.2 Objective of my Analysis

We can actually observe a very interesting group work of eight guys with very unique characteristics, with eight different personalities. The personality conflicts, the joint effort and the functioning of several minds together to search for solutions are just a few characteristics of what a group leader has to learn to deal with when racing a situation where a common goal needs to be reached.

It’s clear that the eight men play a very important role each of them, but in order to make this analysis more concrete, there are 3 points that I will address in the next section in order to get a global view of the leadership presented during the film:

a. Harry’s Group Leadership: First, I think that it’s interesting to go deeper in the analysis of Harry Stamper’s personality and his way to interact with the rest of the crew. Harry is the dominant leader during the mission and there are several phrases that I will quote which have the “booster effect” in the performance of the other guys who are under Harry’s command.

b. A.J. and Harry’s conflict situation: I will also go a bit further in A.J. ‘s personality and its profile characteristics, because I consider very important the fact that his is in continuous conflict with Harry. Why does it happen if both A.J. and Harry are very appreciated by the rest of the team?

c. Dan Truman’s loyal behavior: Because in order to perform the mission, it’s true that it was Harry the one who commanded the team, but at the same time, it was Truman who played the supporting role for the leader. He was also the most important communication channel between NASA and Harry.



Harry Stamper

He is the best oil driller in the world. He highlights during the whole movie due to his hard, tough, leathered, and conservative personality. He is very brave during the whole movie, and he is the one who transmits this bravery to the rest of the crew.

He actually lives in an oil platform with his daughter Grace. We can see they have a very close relationship even though they had several arguments about AJ and Grace’s relationship. He doesn’t hide a word from her. She is next to him in every minute of the movie. She is Harry’s only relative that we can see during the movie.

Once the expedition had departed, he showed an immense amount of courage and ‘no-quit’ attitude on the asteroid, even though there were a lot of negative circumstances. He was in charge on leading the expedition crew during the mission, and he was in charge of one of the space shuttles, Freedom.

His character gives off the final vibe of a true hero as he sacrifices his life for all of humanity, by being the one to hand-detonate the nuclear bomb. But he also opened up his heart finally when he confessed to AJ that he has always appreciated him and that he would be the perfect husband for his daughter.

A.J. Frost

AJ is one of Harry’s work mates in the oil platform. He is a young man; let’s say around 25 years old. At the beginning of the movie, we can see that the working relationship between him and Harry ends up because he is dating Grace and it is not something that Harry thinks its good for his daughter.

During the movie we can see several scenes where AJ blows up the drilling equipment because he doesn’t follow Harry’s instructions. In general, we can see a young inexperienced man who is trying to build up his future but who feels very pressured under Harry’s command.

At the end of the movie, it’s his making decisions and taking risks capabilities that finally achieve the drilling objective. After the crisis period, he is chosen randomly to be the one to hand-detonate the nuclear bomb, but without getting to know it before, Harry takes his place so he could go back to Earth and marry Grace.

Harry told him, right before his death, that he had always considered as a son, that he had always been proud of him and that he wanted him to be Grace’s husband.

Dan Truman

Dan Truman is as said before, NASA’s Executive Director. He is the one in charge to make the decision of what the plan is going to be in order to destroy the asteroid.

He gives the call to the NASA team to recruit Harry Stamper, known worldwide to be the best oil driller under any circumstance.

Since Truman met Harry for first time at the NASA enclosure, they got along very well. Truman was kind of the connection between Harry and NASA, and even further than this, between Harry and the President of the US.

Truman always supported Harry’s decisions. He put his trust on Harry since the first day, and made everything easier for him and his team when they had to negotiate some permissions and rewards.

It’s very interesting to also bring out to the analysis two more things about Truman: the first one is that because he always believed in Harry, he even contradicted the orders giving by the President of the US, he was confident on Harry’s abilities and determination to achieve the drilling goal. And second, we can see how at the end of the movie, Harry talks to Grace and to AJ, he sends a message to his best friend chick, but also, he send the of the shield of his spacesuit to Truman, as a symbol of loyalty, to prove him that he achieved what he was supposed to achieve, and as symbol of gratitude for all the support he provided him during the whole mission.

The rest of the Crew

Grace: Harry raised her since she was a kid because her mom left them mainly for Harry not being capable of maturing. She was raised also by Harry’s friends, his work partners who have been also his best friends during several years. She grew up always surrounded by the oil-drilling scenario, and now that she’s a woman she felt in love with one of the Harry’s youngest friends. A.J.

Grace is the most important person in Harry’s life. She is the motor of his activities, and she is the reason why he’s accepting the space mission. We can see almost at the end of the movie that she was actually the reason why Harry gave his life. It was actually not only to save the world, but also to achieve Grace’s happiness with A.J.

Chick: He is Harry’s best friend. He can see him since the first scene of the movie. He is always walking next to harry while he is chasing A.J. because he has being in a relationship with Grace.

He seems to play the role of Harry’s maturity. Harry trusts him completely and he has always obeyed Harry’s orders as a sign of loyalty.

When there was the meeting at the NASA, when the whole crew was convened, it was Chick the first one to support Harry’s demand on going to drill the asteroid with him. Literally he said. “In twenty years I haven’t turned ya once”, so we can see that he is completely loyal to Harry.

Same loyalty scenario can be seen when they are trying to drill the asteroid and the US President stated that the secondary protocol had to be launched. Harry fights with the pilot of the ship but it is Chick who is always backing him up. He doesn’t emit any judgment or comment but he is there, he won’t let Harry alone and Harry knows it.

Max: He is kind of the sweetie one, we can guess he is young also as Oscar and AJ are, I would say he is around his 30’s and he is part of Harry’s closest circle of friends. There are not too many aspects to highlight about his performance during the movie, but his obedience to Harry’s orders when he is in charge of the Armadillo drilling-prototype. He is one more good, loyal friend of Harry.

Rockhound: His performance during the film is almost invisible. He is a sex-addicted friend of Harry whose knowledge in physics and geology is spectacular. There’s nothing special to highlight other than he is concerned about economical reward but always loyal to Harry. His reaction is part of the group thinking effect, and if I say it it’s because during the reunion, when Harry is asking them to follow him in the mission, Rockhound undertakes himself because everyone before him had accepted. He is not totally sure but he likes the idea to do whatever the rest of the crew is doing.

Freddy: He is actually invisible during the film. However it’s part of the team and during the NASA meeting before departing to the space, he is after Chick, the second one on committing himself to the mission.

Bear: As Freddy, Max and Rockhound, there are not many aspects to highlight about Bear either. He is the typical African-American rebel who likes to go against the rules. However his inside is very sweet. He’s kind of the emotional one regarding his strong physical appearance. No matter how he looks like, how strong he is and how much respect he can impose, he always followed Harry’s orders during the mission.

Oscar: He’s the joker one. He is Grace’s same age and his booster for the mission is to become a hero. He doesn’t take anything too serious.

In general we can observe a very good interaction in between all the members of Harry’s crew. In fact we can say that there are not problems in between the crew, other than those related to AJ and Harry’s relationship whose at the same time depend on the present situation of AJ with Grace. Besides, as it will be further developed in the next section, the main arguing its caused by A.J. determination on making new decisions, by his creativity and his thirst of becoming mature enough to prove Harry he is enough to marry his daughter. He has some hints of leadership, pretty well marked.

And as I said at the beginning, we can actually observe a very interesting group work of eight guys with very unique characteristics, with eight different personalities: the leader, the incoming leader, the best friend, the rebel, the joker, the smart, the emotional and the unnoticed. The perfect mix to make a group work all together.

2.2 Leadership Styles

The following analysis of leadership is based on Emily Spencer’s essay Leadership Models and Theories: A Brief Overview, and its intended to contrast the behaviors observed during the film to the cited leadership theories and models that she presents.

During this section we will focus specifically in Harry’s personality without taking in consideration the environmental factor that actually affected his behavior as a leader during the space mission. However, Harry’s behavior according to the current situation will be developed in the Environment section.

Harry’s Leadership

We will start approaching Harry’s profile, the protagonist of the movie and the dominant leader. Why do I consider him as a leader? According to Emily Spencer, “leadership is the art of influencing others in the manner desired by the leader” [1] and that’s exactly what Harry did when he called his team to supporting him for the mission.

According to the Trait Theory [2] , Harry’s personality matches the five characteristics or traits needed for a successful leadership:

Intelligence: There is no doubt of Harry’s intelligence; he is the best oil-driller worldwide.

He even had the time to design the prototype of the drilling machine that is, in fact, being sent to the asteroid by the NASA. In fact, his level of intelligence can be seen as well when, even the best NASA crew couldn’t put to work the armadillo prototype. They had to wait for Harry’s advices to set it on.

Self-confidence: He is completely confident of himself. And I’ll quote literally from Harry’s mouth. “I’m only the best, because I work with the best”. He knows he is the best but he doesn’t take the credit for himself but he also remarks the aptitude of his co-workers and friends.

His confidence is very clear as well when he puts several conditions to Truman in order to perform the mission, since the meeting with the crew until the day of the departure.

Determination: Since he was announced about the current situation, and he actually accepted, Harry never hesitated. In fact, right before boarding the shuttles, AJ confessed to Harry that he was scared and Harry’s reaction was to re-assure him and to reinforce his self-confidence. There was not even a second where Harry would doubt about the mission. Not even for his daughter. It was specially because of her that he was sure of he was doing. And from my point of vies, that was one of the most important factors that achieved the success of the mission. He gave security to all the members of the crew. He taught with the example.

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Integrity: Harry’s integrity is notable during the entire film. He was consistently honest and trustworthy since the beginning. And this integrity was the core value that allowed Truman to totally trust in him. He was a man of word, even at the very end, when he stayed behind on the asteroid to hand detonate the bomb, and he passes through certain difficulties, AJ says (about harry) to the rest of the crew “he doesn’t know how to fail”, referring to the fact that because of his high level of determination, every single thing that Harry promised to do, he achieved it.

During the whole situation on the asteroid, there is a very important part when the second protocol is launched in order to detonate the bomb before the time planet, because the President of the US thought they wouldn’t be capable to reach the fixed objective; during this time, the nuclear bomb is activated and Harry realizes it. He argues with the pilot of the shuttle in order to stop the countdown and get the chance to finish with his task. After several minutes of fighting, we can see that the only thing the pilot asked Harry to give him this opportunity was to promise it for his daughter. He did and immediately the pilot believes in him. They started to work together again.

The evidence of this high level of integrity in Harry’s performance during the film is also observed in how Harry trusted in the others members of the crew and how he left them to work independently doing what he said they needed them to do.

Sociability: As the leader of the mission, Harry always maintained a good relationship with the rest of the crew as I mentioned before. He knew how to separate working relationships from personal relationship with all of them except for AJ. But I will deeper develop this situation in the next section of Harry’s leadership with A.J.

It’s not surprising that we find that his best friends were his teammates. He valued the relationship with people more than anything else. Despite his determination and strong character, he was a man with a huge heart, and we can see this in the relationship he had with his daughter Grace.

Another part of Harry’s behavior as a leader can be contrasted to the Theory of Participative Leadership [3] . According to Spencer, the participative leadership is interactive and allows followers some influence over the leader’s decisions. This is determined according to the level of delegation that the leader allows to his/hers followers. Spencer enlists four different levels: the autocratic decision, consultation, joint decision and delegation.

We can observe that Harry’s behavior matches with the consultation style. Per definition, consultation occurs when the leader asks followers for their opinions and ideas, then makes the decision alone after seriously considering their suggestions and concerns. This is exactly the scenario of the meeting at NASA, when, before Harry engages a compromise with Truman, he called for a reunion with his teammates and asked them for his collaboration. He asked his opinions and after all this he writes down the several petitions from each one of the members and after considering each one of the requirements they make a decision all together. They agreed in going to the mission.

Harry is far from the autocratic style; he is always considering the needs from his team in order to speak out for them. He is the communication channel between government and the crew, and he performs pretty well this task.

He also fits the delegation style. Per definition delegation occurs when the leader gives authority to an individual or group to make a decision. This is what happened with harry and A.J. when he put him in charge of the other shuttle for the mission. He believes in him and he delegates him the responsibility to be in charge of the other 4 men part of the crew.

But in general, Harry finds a good balance between having the final decision all the time and learning how to delegate some activities to his member teams (consultation and delegation). This balance is given mainly by the fact that he believes in the capacities of his team. He literally said to Truman “If you don’t trust the men you’re working with, you’re as good as dead”.

Harry’s Leadership with A.J.

I find interesting to approach here the Contingency model of Leadership proposed by Hersey and Blanchard [4] . It’s clear the attitude of Harry every time he has to manage the situation with A.J. According to Spencer, the Hersey and Blanchard model establishes that leadership behavior depends on the ‘maturity’ of an individual follower. Maturity includes two related components. The first, ‘job maturity’ refers to a follower’s task relevant skills and technical knowledge. The second, ‘psychological maturity’ is indicative of the follower’s self-confidence and self-respect.

Contrasting the above idea to Harry’s behavior, we can conclude that this is the reason why he is always in continuous arguing with A.J. Harry believes that A.J. maturity in both professional and personal aspects is not yet completely developed. That is why Harry is more supportive to rest of the crew except for A.J.; Harry is way more directive with A.J. than with the other six men. This situation has its roots in Grace and A.J.’s relationship. Harry keeps thinking that A.J. is not enough for his daughter, somehow he can see himself reflected in A.J.’s attitude.

We can observe a development on Harry’s behavior with A.J. from the beginning to the end of the film. He started by a “telling” attitude, which represents a directive style of leader behavior, when he is directing every movement of A.J. on the oil platform, and ended up by a “delegating” attitude which is characterized by a style of leader behavior, lacking in both supportiveness and directiveness when he puts A.J. in charge of the second shuttle and when he trusted in A.J. when they are drilling the asteroid.

Truman’s participation

Everyone else is against the idea but Truman decides to take the risk of sending Harry’s crew to the mission rather than sending the trained astronauts.

Since the beginning of the film the Truman’s profile is that of a trusty man, he searches for the common wellness and he relies on Harry to achieve the goal of destructing the asteroid. Due to its nature, he matches very well with Harry’s style; they get along during the whole movie. They share the same values, so it’s very easy for Truman to understand Harry’s needs and to satisfy them.

Truman even plays the role of the emotional support of Harry’s daughter. During the time of the mission, it is Truman who, let’s say, replaces Harry as Grace’s dad. He is very patient and, as the rest of the crew, he offers harry an immense loyalty that drives him to even contradict the president of the US when the secondary protocol is ordered to be launched.

2.3 Environment

If we acknowledge the relationship between leaders, followers and the SITUATION, we can, then, contrast the environment presented during the movie with the Transformational Leadership [5] .

According to Spencer, there are four main factors that have been associated with transformational leaders: idealized influence, inspirational motivation, intellectual stimulation, and individualized consideration.

Idealized Influence. Also called charisma. As mentioned before, regardless the exterior appearance of Harry of being a strong, decisive and fearless man, he is always associated with very high standards of moral and ethical conduct due to its constant determination and integrity defined above. He doesn’t need to make any effort to achieve the like from his teammates. This charisma is the booster for his crew’s loyalty as well.

Inspirational Motivation. Which can be seen when he gives the speech at NASA. In fact, none of the men who are called to follow Harry, really wanted to go and take the risk to fly in a space ship, but Harry knew how to touch a sensitive point in a general consensus. He used Nationalism as an emotional booster to generate the participation of the team with him. He said during the meeting at NASA: “the US government just asked us to save the world”, which was the decisive point before everyone accepted to follow him.

Intellectual Stimulation. Defined as the act to challenge their own beliefs and values as well as those of the leader and the organization. Harry was capable to achieve the intellectual stimulation in those who joined the mission with him. Some of them were very smart and prepared men who had a wide specialization in physics and geology, and Harry knew how to bring that up.

Individualized Consideration. Harry as a leader knew how to create a supportive climate for all of his followers. No matter the hard circumstances they had to face, Harry was always there for them. He knew how to approach them as a group but every time making specific considerations depending on each of them. Especially before the departure to the asteroid, he coached them properly to be capable to perform their tasks.

Leadership during the crisis

We can actually observe that the whole movie is developed during a period of crisis, the entire world was in danger, and it was in these men’s hands the decision to save the world.

Crisis is a period of time where, from my personal point of view, the cohesion of a group can either be completely destroyed or increased to a point where the unanimous goal has to be achieved. That’s the most challenging part of being a leader, the “how to” achieve this cohesion to increase to the highest peak no matter the obstacles they have to face. And Harry did it. No matter the catastrophic circumstances, he got his crew to work together. His mates already appreciated him and he knew every single person he recruited for the mission, so he used it as an advantage to achieve a successful leadership. And even during this continuous time of crisis, they also had to face other more important crisis:

First, the moment when the shuttle commanded by A.J. was hit by the incoming pieces of the asteroid. Harry didn’t let this fact to affect the performance of the crew in his shuttle; he left aside the emotional feelings, and stayed focus in the fixed objective of saving the world.

And second, when the US Government launched the second protocol in Earth while they were trying to drill on the asteroid. This situation generated a complex climate of stress especially in those who were not yet confident of Harry’s abilities. Harry was not afraid even when the countdown clock of the bomb was set off, he stayed calmed and managed the situation to a point where he got the trust from those who didn’t believe in him. I quote here Harry’s word to the pilot in charge of the shuttle: “I can not do it alone Colonel, I need your help”. Enough words from a “man of word” to get back his team to the mission.

It was so high Harry’s honesty and charisma, that even in the most chaotic circumstance, when all the fait was lost, he had a live transmission with the staff from NASA, who were completely devastated by the situation, and he made them recover the fait.

This is for me the most amazing part during the entire movie where we can actually appreciate the level of influence that a good leader can have in a group. And that is where the success of Harry can be found. Harry bring back the fait to the entire world.


What’s important for me to highlight from this movie? Besides the whole analysis that has been made above the characteristics of leadership seen during the movie, there is another very important characteristic of a leader that has to be highlighted which refers to the power of Negotiation.

I consider negotiation as the power of a person to exchange goods or services with someone else who also wants something in return and that finally both can achieve a common agreement that satisfies both parties.

For this movie, there are several moments of negotiation where Harry success and brings up his demands to Truman and to everyone to who he speaks and he success in getting them all the time.

As a good leader, the important part that he does all the time during the movie is that he speaks out loud for his team all the time. Since the beginning when the crew is reunited at the NASA, he brings to Truman all the requirements of his men; he also negotiates the last night free, and some other situations where he actually doesn’t demand anything for himself but for his men.

There’s no other important aspect that I need to highlight besides negotiation. I think all of the characteristics of a leader have been pretty well described before.

What I can conclude it is that a leader has not a fixed profile that will match just one certain type of those leadership styles that Spencer enlisted in her essay. It’s a very controversial topic due to its human nature. It’s very subjective; it’s an interesting phenomenon that will always depend on the group, the situation, the problem, etc.


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