Saturday, March 12, 2011

Idiocy in Action Movies

Excuse me, but I need to rant for a bit.

I saw "The Transporter" in the cinema on a recommendation. And it all started rather well. We were introduced to Frank. He's a somewhat amoral mercenary driver. Oh, and he has a quirk: there are some rules that he won't ever break. Cute.

So, of course, on his next assignment, he breaks one of the rules, and looks inside "the package". And it's a cute girl. Okay, I think I see where we're going with this, but carry on...

Okay, he delivers the package. Oh, and there's the sudden but inevitable betrayal. Shocking! So, of course, he's going to go back and get the girl. But of course, because there are so many more of them, and he no longer has a car, he'll need to use a cunning plan to go get her...

Ah, no. He's just gone and kicked in the door.

And that was the point where the film lost any connection to reality. Simply put, beyond that point it didn't matter what they did, it just could not ever make sense.

This is akin to the "nuclear fridge" incident in "Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull", John McClaine vs the Fighter in "Die Hard 4.0", or Pierce Brosnan's complete inability to sing. It doesn't matter what qualities the rest of the film has, it cannot get past that one thing.

Of course, the sequels to "The Transporter" and also the "Crank" films don't even pretend to make sense - they're stupid from the outset. People seem to view them as extreme action films, but they're really not. They're ballet, only with explosions and a CGI budget. I would say that they're a parody of action movies, but the people making them always seem to utterly humourless when talking about them. That, and they're not funny.

Frankly, I blame CGI for this. Prior to the advent of CGI special effects, stunts had to be done by real people. That scene in "Raiders of the Lost Ark" where Indy goes under the truck? Some poor stuntman had to actually do that. The ridiculous, impossible bus jump in "Speed"? Yep, some stuntman did that. Oh, and the scene from earlier in that film where Keanu's character jumps from the fast-moving car to a fast-moving bus? Yeah, someone did that... and his name was Keanu. Woah, indeed.

(Oh, about "Raiders...". There's a scene where Indy hitches a ride on a German sub, back to their base. On seeing that, my mind had filled in a bit, assuming Indy made his way into the sub, and lay low. But no. According to George Lucas, and therefore canon, Indy rides the outside of the sub all the way. And just like that George utterly ruins one of the best films of all time.)

It all makes me mad. Give me solid characters, a plot that actually stands up to a little consideration, and then layer on the stunts, the explosions, and everything else.

Or maybe I'll just stop watching action movies.

(Incidentally, this all came about as a result of an an argument about stupidity in the 4e rules. Apparently, it's unreasonable to think that fantasy should be grounded in some sort of reality, if only as a launching pad for the fantasy. But the problem is, if your 1st level adventure is "Die Hard", that gives you plenty of scope for further, escalating adventures. If your 1st level adventure is "The Expendables", then what the hell does your 30th level adventure look like?)

#5: "Pathfinder: Sanctum of the Serpent God", by Neil Spicer

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