Ever watch an action scene in a movie and think to yourself, “that definitely wouldn’t work in real life”? Heck, ever see an action scene you think would work? See, action heroes aren’t just heroes, they’re gods. Plug yourself into any action movie situation, even the seemingly plausible ones, and it becomes obvious: even with the right training, you would hopelessly, hopelessly fail. Take these five common scenarios:
5. The Escape Sequence
James Bond gets captured in every single one of his movies. But with the exception of Die Another Day, he stays captured for about fifteen minutes before he finds a handy escape route or tricks the guards. (Die Another Day, which also features an invisible car and a character named “Jinx” whom everybody inscrutably calls “Jince,” begins with a pointless six-month stint in North Korean captivity.)
You or I couldn’t really escape, mostly because we’re not double-oh agents. And therefore things wouldn’t go very smoothly:
- We would look for an air duct to crawl through, but even if we found one, it would actually be screwed onto the wall and not easily removable.
- We would try to trick the guards, but the guards wouldn’t turn out to be quite as stupid as Bond henchman.
- Any attempt to Judo Chop the guards would result in them punching us in the face and/or shooting us outright.
- And most unfortunately, there would be no super-hot girl hanging around who works for the bad guy but really wants to jump our bones, so much so that she’d help us escape.
4. The Car Chase in a Tightly-Packed City
These have been around forever, but the Bourne series used them to great effect in all three movies. The 2008 Dennis Quaid/Matthew Fox flick Vantage Point also had a terrific car chase on the super-narrow streets of Spain, as well as classics like Ronin and The French Connection. But let’s be honest: pretty much anybody would crash in less than ten seconds.
It’s not just the ninety-degree turns that any car should have to slow down to less than 30 MPH for. It’s not just that you would get stuck behind things constantly. It’s really that in a crowded, cramped city, you’re going to hit somebody. The hero can’t look bad, so he never does: Matt Damon doesn’t hit any old ladies while he’s gunning it away from Karl Urban in India at the beginning of The Bourne Supremacy. But you and I would. Luckily, our horror at murdering an innocent due to plain old reckless driving would be cut short when Karl Urban walked up to us and killed us.
3. That Cliché Where Two Characters Are in Close-Up and then You Hear a Shot, and then One of Them Slowly Falls
Remember the end of Minority Report? Max Von Sydow had framed Tom Cruise for a murder, Cruise finally figures it out, and the two of them are squaring off on a balcony. Von Sydow has the gun, but he also knows he’s been exposed and his life’s work will be ruined, so as the two draw closer to each other, the question is: is he going to shoot Cruise, or himself?
The two of them get up really close to each other so you can only see their faces, and then you hear the gunshot. Both their eyes widen, neither of them move, but then ever so slowly, Von Sydow falls to the floor.
Unfortunately, I had seen the exact same thing happen in the 1998 sci-fi TV movie Chameleon. Really. So the Minority Report version didn’t have much of a “wow” factor. But, of course, it got me thinking: why does the person who didn’t get shot just sort of…stand there?
Because if it were me, I would freak the hell out. Think about it: somebody is exactly one foot away from you, has a loaded gun, and fires said loaded gun. Would you (A) stand there with wide eyes, quivering slightly, until the other person decided he was going to fall down, or (B) scream like a girl and jump backward? Yeah, me too.
2. Resisting the Femme Fatale
Another staple of James Bond: a random hot girl shows up in his room and tries to seduce him; he goes for it, but then realizes she’s trying to kill him at the last second and a fight ensues. This happened most famously in Goldfinger, thanks to the best pun in the history of movies. Bond eventually electrocutes the chick in the bathtub, and before he leaves the room, he looks at her and says: “Shocking.”
But if it were me? True, a girl coming onto me would be a new experience, but I certainly wouldn’t take the time to get all suspicious about it. Stab me, shoot me, whatever you were planning on: my mind is going to be on exactly one thing. And I’m guessing yours would be, too. Hey, we’re only human.
1. Everything John McClane Has Ever Done
A bunch of people complained about Live Free or Die Hard turning Bruce Willis’s John McClane into too much of a superhero, I guess as opposed to an ordinary guy. To them I say: did you ever see Die Hard 2? The climax of that movie features him blowing up a plane that’s already in the sky while he’s standing on the runway thanks to some impossibly perfect timing and a whole lot of gasoline. That would require me to get my lighter to work on the first try, so…no.
How about the classic scene from the first Die Hard in which McClane is barefoot and walks over the broken glass? He just does it. I, personally, would’ve taken a more crafty approach, like maybe taking off my shirt and sweeping all the glass away. One of Professor Snape’s goons probably would’ve killed me in the process, but I think it’d be worth the risk. Because that glass would’ve really hurt.