Movies, and particularly the action genre features a plethora of situations in which the protagonist carelessly walks away unscathed from situations that should – by all accounts – end his/her life. In the real world, most of the scenes enacted by the hero of the story would have a completely different ending.
Now, you might think to yourself “It’s okay, it’s just a movie” and it is perfectly true that Hollywood productions would be quite boring without the unrealistic scenes. And, at the same time, if the film is not labeled “reality show” people are very unlikely to attempt to recreate the scenes in their backyard, thus getting seriously injured.
However, would it hurt the producers – and we’re not talking about the science fiction genre here – to make the movies a tad more credible by cutting out some of the following blunders? Let’s elaborate.
1. Jumping out of a ten story window and landing in dumpster safely
Garbage in all its majesty is very different in terms of consistency, but it will definitely not act like a trampoline or the firefighters’ safety net when you plummet into it from a high altitude. You will most likely see this stunt when the protagonist is completely surrounded by the villain’s minions and the only way out is through the skyscraper’s window and down into the street. Through a game of chance, a dumpster just happens to be underneath and it breaks his fall, allowing him to emerge unscarred, albeit smelling badly. Unfortunately, in real life, the neck and spine of the hero would snap like a twig on contact due to the high velocity.
2. All protagonists can hold their breath underwater indefinitely
The current record for holding your breath underwater is 19 min, 12 seconds and it belongs to a Swiss free diver who trained for many years utilizing all sorts of gimmicks and tricks to subdue the brain’s natural instinct of breathing, including induced hyperventilation. You might argue that special services train agents are able to hold their breath, even up to the point of dying and that would probably be the only scenario where the protagonists unmatched breath holding skills are not ludicrous.
But not only does he not need air to live, he is also able to engage in heroic stunts that require loads of stamina and strength like saving all the secondary characters from certain death and pulling them to safety. So when you take into account that, on average, a regular person cannot hold his breath for more than 2 minutes, does that really make sense?
3. Your ammo clips never run out of bullets
It’s like the hero entered the infinite ammo cheat code, as he relentlessly fires wave after wave of bullets at the bad guys and if he ever needs to reload, that’s just because the producers wanted to introduce a dramatic speech. Now if you consider that standard pistol clips hold about 10 bullets whereas the military versions have around 15, where did the other 200 rounds come from? Even extended ammo clips that are clearly visible won’t have in excess of 30 rounds!
4. The gun should always be discarded if the immediate dangers have passed
After all, we know that nothing bad will happen after the nearest threat has been eliminated, so what would you do with a gun anyhow? And guns grow on trees, right? You can just reach up and pick a full basket of semiautomatics at any given time. That would pretty much summarize why tossing away your pistol when (more like if) you finished the clip doesn’t make much sense. If the protagonist was an actual soldier and he discarded the weapon in the field after running out of ammo, he would’ve certainly been sent back there to retrieve it.
5. Dodging a burst of automatic bullets is a piece of cake
The bad guys, no matter how many or how well equipped with automatic assault rifles, will never hit the hero. There’s 5 guys firing in bursts but the “invisible shield” of the protagonist magically deflects all bullets, while he’s taking them out one by one. This paradox was actually explained based on a study conducted on World War 1 soldiers. Apparently, they were missing the targets on purpose because instinctually they didn’t want to harm another human being. However, while those soldiers were basically civilians in uniform plunged in a war they did not fully understand or want to be part of, in action movies we’re talking about trained bad guys who kill people for a living. Also, they don’t seem to have a problem with hitting secondary/minor characters. Bottom line, you can’t dodge bullets in a firefight.
6. You can always rely on the honor of a group of attackers
When you are attacked by an angry mob/band of martial art experts/bunch of generic bad guys, you can safely win the fist fight by taking them out one by one. Don’t worry, they’ll never attack all at once in order to maximize their chances by overwhelming you. That is, of course, because they are not scoundrels and knaves.
7. Cheap booze and a matchstick make an excellent flamethrower
Yes, certain varieties of alcohol are indeed flammable, no you cannot take a swig of Jack and then blow into the match to make a cool flamethrower. That’s mostly because beverages with enough alcohol to light up would probably make you choke if you take a mouthful. Also because they’re kind of poisonous and mostly used strictly for flambé cocktails in small doses.
8. Getting in top physical shape takes a couple of days
The typical scenario is that a civilian without any military training meets an old, yet skilled veteran who turns him into a lean, mean killing machine over night through intensive exercise and bestows on him some form of long lost fighting techniques. Mastering this “particular set of skills” takes years and years of instruction, not to mention the fact that not everyone is gifted with the endurance and willpower to successfully complete the training.
9. The blast radius of explosives is negligible
At least on this chapter action movies are starting to become a bit more realistic, as now some of the characters are actually knocked back by the explosion. However, let’s consider for a moment that even the standard hand grenades have an approximate kill radius of 5m, whereas their injury radius is in excess of 15m. Without a really, really solid object in between the protagonist and the blast, the explosion is not exactly a summer breeze on the coasts of Ireland.
10. A turned table makes a perfect shield against bullets
Not even if it’s mahogany. In fact, you cannot even count on walls to perform shield duties. The firepower of the typical semiautomatic is enough to penetrate wood and concrete, let alone the situation when the bad guy is wielding an assault rifle.