Monday, August 24, 2009

Movie Scenes Where a Character Outruns the Impossible

We've seen it time and time again. A grenade lands at someone's feet, a bomb's timer ticks down, a fireball rushes in ... and all our hero can do is run.

This list is not of the best of those instances, but instead of the most ridiculous. According to my invented rules the characters cannot have super powers or speed (so no Dash from The Incredibles), and the characters must get away on foot (so no James Bond driving away from a space laser in Die Another Day, and as much as I wanted to include Christian Slater getting away from a nuclear explosion in Broken Arrow, I guess he did it via underground river, so it was more like out-swimming than outrunning). So let's check out some feats of speed that make you groan.

5. Seagal vs. The Train (Under Siege 2: Dark Territory; 1995)
Now I've seen people outrun a train before in movies (Stand By Me), but it's another thing entirely to be inside a train that has collided with another train and is derailing off a bridge ... and still get away unscathed! But that's just another day at work for Mr. Seagal.

Maybe it'd be easier to swallow if Steven Seagal wasn't the action hero equivalent of a rusted ironing board. If you can't tell from the picture, I swear he is doing the stiffest, stupidest, and slowest run possible. His escape from certain doom is more like watching the Tin Man having his morning jog.

4. Dog vs. The Wall of Fire (Independence Day; 1996)
A dog!? Yes, a dog. Hopefully you can recall the scene where the alien ships are fucking everything up with their giant engulfing waves of fire. As the wall of flame rushes down a tunnel in Los Angeles, Vivica A. Fox and her son hide in a ... side room ... thing. She calls out to her lightning fast pooch and he quickly runs over the tops of cars and make a triumphant leap to safety while everything else gets obliterated.

It's amazing to see a dog (who may be related to Krypto) pull off a stunt usually reserved for Bruce Willis or Arnold Schwarzenegger. But it's even more amazing that all their oxygen wasn't consumed by the fire, and that they hid behind the only indestructible door in the city. Holy shit, Scoob.

3. Gyllenhaal vs. The Cold (The Day After Tomorrow; 2004)
In this mediocre disaster flick we have a scene where Jake Gyllenhaal (screw using character names) is searching for medicine in a flooded and frozen New York City. When the eye of a super storm moves over the city, an instantly freezing cold air descends and Jake must rush back to the safety of the public library. We literally see hallways freezing with ice and "chasing" him all the way. Luckily he ends up blocking the cold by ... closing the door!? Gotta love those impenetrable doors! If this list is teaching me anything, it's that if you're ever in a pickle, get yourself a fuckin' door.

2. Wahlberg vs. The Wind (The Happening; 2008)
Yes, I've talked about it before in my list of the worst films of 2008, but it's so crazy it is worth repeating. Due to an apparent deadliness in the air, Mark must outrun the wind in one scene by fleeing across a field. That doesn't make any goddamn sense! It's conceptually stupid and visually boring! It's wind!! On its own it doesn't have any defining edges and parts. It's not like a fireball where you can clearly identify which area is a fireball and which area is not. And c'mon, it's air for crying out loud. It's like trying to outrun sound or sunshine! *Sigh* ... which brings me to ...

1. Fraser vs. The Sunrise (The Mummy Returns; 2001)
Let me paint a picture for you. A man sees a golden pyramid in the distance about a kilometer away. He sees the sun rising behind him on the horizon. He knows he must reach the pyramid before it is touched by sunlight, or else lose a loved one. He runs like mad and ... makes it!

That's stupid, you say. And you are correct. He'd be outrunning the rotation of the earth and the ground speed of the "terminator" line of night and day, which moves at about 1000 miles per hour. As he's running we see him in shadow with a line of sunlight hot on his heels. I admit this is a dramatic way to show the peril, but it's still crazy. Some people have even tried explaining the line as being the shadow of a mountain and not the "terminator" line. Yet this would only make sense if the sun was rising ahead of him, rather than behind him, making this scene impossible in every regard. And yet the movie depicts this human man outrunning the sunrise. I daresay you'd be hard pressed to find a more preposterous achievement.

Oh, and did I mention he does it while carrying his eight year old son?


Bruce Burns said...

That was hilarious! I now want to re-watch some of these scenes because I forgot how ridiculous they are (The Day After Tomorrow comes to mind). I'd have to say the most visually humorous has got to be outrunning the wind. Seeing them run around frantically with the grass whipping dramatically all around them definitely tops the list of most unintentionally funny scenes in a movie. Too bad they didn't have a door in that field to hide behind.

Cole D'Arc said...

Nothing makes for better writing and plotting than one brilliantly placed door to save our characters. Of course, most of these guys are too awesome to need doors anyway as they are able to defy logic and the elements when needed. it's possible - i once outran the TEMPERATURE.

Shane Patenaude said...

Doors just get the job done, time and time again. If anyone recalls the epic climax to Dracula 3000, that is definitely a door-related triumph.

Also, I once outran a shark. Pfft....stupid land sharks.