Five Common Unrealistic Action Scenes

Roobla discusses five types of crazy, ridiculous and unrealistic action scenes in films.

Action films are well known for their outrageous fights, ridiculous car chases and insane stunts and audiences accept such scenes as part of the genre. However, sometimes the action is taken too far and spectators are quickly alerted to unrealistic acts that defy physics and human ability. While this is understandable in films dealing with superheroes, fantasy and science fiction, the following examples are borderline bonkers.

1.  Hanging off of a vehicle in motion

What: The protagonist is either trying to catch up with a moving vehicle or is about to fall to his/her death. They grab onto a plane, helicopter, train or car until they are safe.

Why: The vehicle in question is usually travelling at a high speed and the character successfully hangs on for minutes; now we’re not physicists but it is clear that to hang on against the force of the wind and acceleration of the vehicle, the character would need to be pretty damn strong.

2. Kill Count

What: The protagonist stands/sits/lays out in the open with nothing more than a handgun or a sub-machine gun and successfully shoots down the entire opposition, despite having shots firing at him/her from every angle, the character ends up unscathed.

Why: These enemies aren’t just local thugs with little or no experience with firearms; they’re usually the authorities, a highly specialised organisation or have at least had target practice. Throughout the whole film, said opposition have usually demonstrated great precision whilst shooting, yet their shots miss a vulnerable and clearly visible protagonist. If characters are going to be indestructible, it shouldn’t happen out of the blue.

3. The run away from fire

What: Boom. Explosion. Fire comes rushing towards the camera and the beloved protagonist. But wait, he/she hesitates in their shock, and they must run to safety, cue slow motion.

Why: The fire is always inches away from the character, but he/she miraculously outruns it or finds cover. It’s amazing that they are faster than a powerful explosion, and even more astonishing that they come out of it without so much as a first degree burn. Anyone who has ever been on the Jaws ride at Universal Studios will know how hot even a small amount of fire meters away is, yet characters emerge with the tiniest bit of brow sweat. It would be interesting to see a realistic depiction of someone attempting to out run fire, though the outcome would undoubtedly be gory.

4. The normal human with superhuman abilities

What: Characters display superhuman strength, agility and heightened senses. They are stronger than the force of a jet plane at 500mph and in their desperation they are able to make the best decisions of their lives.

Why: Throughout the respective films, these protagonists are displayed as merely human, normal people with talents such as increased strength or knowledge. However, in their time of need they suddenly acquire superhuman abilities and are able to get out of the stickiest of situations. Check out the above example from Eraser where Arnie has a fight on a plane, defies decompression, holds onto the plane while the engine behind him is on fire and then spontaneously skydives, getting into his parachute in mid-air and landing safely.

5. The Totally Ridiculous

What: The protagonist does something so ridiculous that it is impossible, and he/she does it perfectly.
Why: This example is so unrealistic and crazy that it deserves a description of its own; Jason Statham’s car is rigged with explosives that are about to be detonated, he has seconds to dispose of them. He drives up a ramp and flips the car over horizontally, the car drives straight into a hook and it pulls the explosives off the car. Audiences watch action films knowing that they will see some sort of ridiculous action, but this is utterly crazy. It doesn’t achieve ‘oos’ and ‘aahs’; the scene with its tacky use of CGI only serves to distract spectators and decrease its credibility.

Can you name any other totally ridiculous scenes from movies?

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