Movie Contrivance #20: Bullets That Never, Ever Hit Their Target

Captain-America-2-PosterI want to start off by saying that I don’t enjoy gratuitous violence in movies. I do, however, like realistic action in action movies, or at least reasonable action in action moves.

I saw Captain America 2: The Winter Soldier/Black Widow/Falcon/How I Met Your Aunt today, and for the most part I enjoyed it. It was a fun superhero movie with a nice mystery to it, some big set pieces, and some great character building. Also, Scarlett Johansson yes please.

A LOT of guns are fired in this movie, and the majority of them are fired at the good guys. Not just handguns, but tons of machine guns spraying bullets in every direction.

I don’t want to give away any spoilers here, so I’ll pull away and talk about action movies in general. If you have a machine gun shooting hundreds of bullets in the good guy’s direction, if none of those bullets hit the good guy, an already outlandish scene will become nearly unwatchable. It removes all tension from the scene.

I see a few solutions/guidelines for this:

  1. Don’t let the bad guys use machine guns. If the bad guys have handguns, shotguns, or blue plasma guns like in the original Captain America movie, it’s more believable when they miss.
  2. Don’t give the bad guys guns at all. Some of the most memorable cinematic bad guys have more interesting weapons than guns.
  3. Let the good guys get shot. If you want to let the audience feel like your hero’s life is at stake, have him or her take a few bullets and actually feel those bullets. I’ve never been shot, but I suspect that I would not be able to continue to run around and punch people if I was.

What do you think? What are some common tropes in movies that should be avoided?

6 thoughts on “Movie Contrivance #20: Bullets That Never, Ever Hit Their Target”

  1. I agree! I’ve often wondered how bad guys cannot hit the broad side of a barn with machine guns, yet good guys never miss with a simple hand gun. I’m not sure what movie this could fit into, but an excellent spoof might include sending the bad guys to “protagonist gun training school” at some point during a movie and then turning the tide of the movie in their favor with a cache of hand guns.

    • Ha ha…I like the idea of the Protagonist Gun Training School. The reverse of that happened on a recent episode of Community set in the world of G.I. Joe–the good guys (the Community cast) discovered that they could actually kill the bad guys with their guns, opposed to just making them run away.

  2. Buildings are constantly destroyed, and seeing as what destroys them was likely not anticipated, they are most likely populated. So in addition to billions and billions of dollars in damage (which magically never carries over from movie to movie, even within the same universe), there are innumerable civilian lives lost, lives that are never really accounted for by any of the characters in the movie. This was one thing that The Incredibles got right (even in a super simplified fashion) as the Supers were banned because someone had to be responsible for the carnage caused in their justice.

    • And that is why The Incredibles is my favorite super hero movie ever. 🙂 Hancock actually touches upon it a bit too.


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