The theme of this novel is that guilt can lead to a need for redemption. Acceleration gives perspective as to how post-traumatic guilt (guilt resulting from witnessing a traumatic event) can affect the way a person behaves. Certainly, the protagonist, Duncan, is deeply affected by the drowning of a young girl the summer before the story takes place. This is definitely relevant in modern society because many people witness horrible things take place and are unable to act and prevent it. For example, officers and firefighters responding to 9/11 put themselves at huge risk. In fact, many of them died or were severely injured. The ones who were not killed by this attack might be at risk to post-traumatic guilt. In order to redeem themselves, they might be eager to respond to later call.
In The Line of Fire
The movie I selected with a similar theme is In The Line Of Fire. In this movie, Secret Service Agent, Frank Horrigan is the only active agent who was on duty the day that President John F. Kennedy was assassinated over 20 years ago. He feels guilt over not being able to save the president and this results in Frank’s excessive drinking and the break-up of his family. Frank receives a call from a man calling himself “Booth” who is threatening to kill the current President. Frank asks to be part of the president’s protective detail despite his age. Booth taunts Frank by calling him and giving him clues as to his identity and his plan to kill the president. Frank eventually learns that Booth is actually Mitch Leary, a former CIA agent who has suffered a mental breakdown. Frank figures out where Leary is planning to kill the President and saves the day by taking the bullet that was meant for the President. He survives the shot and can be relieved of his guilt. This movie has almost an identical theme as Acceleration. The protagonist feels guilty about their past and in both cases, end up killing the antagonist to save someone else.