I've lost the illusion of credibility in action movies.
Recovering from surgery, I have what I'd consider to be lots of free time. One of the things I'm doing, during this time when I cannot do anything (doctor's orders), is watching movies I've been wanting to watch, and re-watching old favorites.
Among them, the occasional action flick.
It's the climactic ending sequence. The good guy and the bad guy are locked in lethal embrace, perhaps rolling around in some convenient dirt. Our Hero has a wound; gunshot to the shoulder, broken leg, stab wound to the gut, something. (Oh, man, is that ever going to infect.)
During the height of the action, the bad guy (and this is how we know he's truly a bad guy and we aren't like him at all) punches, kicks, or bites Our Hero where he's already wounded.
Oh, my! We draw a collective breath and ache for our idol as he grimaces in pain. He might even yell (never scream, though, oh, no) but he never, ever stops fighting.
It's a gratifying look into how we wish we could handle our battles.
Yesterday, witnessing such a scene, I laughed. I know the producer, director, and assorted staff of the production weren't looking for that particular reaction, but I couldn't help it. As Our Hero winced in pain, I laughed.
Because now I see that most likely our hero would, in reality, be writhing on the ground in pain. Not a gentle wince, not a token yell, but flat-out on the ground rolling in agony. (The exception is, of course, a good kick in the groin, which always -- always -- puts even Our Hero on the ground.)
You see, I have a wound. (It's healing fine, thank you.) And I know, now, that given how even casual movement causes such lancing pain, I couldn't survive a purposeful punch. Still, even today, working on four weeks later, I'm not sure it wouldn't put me back in the hospital. Then, when it was fresh, I have no doubt I'd have curled up and died, right there. The villain would be standing over my body, laughing evilly, as he prepared to rule an uncontested world.
Because there's no way I could deal with such pain with a grimace. I know that people's pain thresholds are different, and Heroes necessarily come with a much higher one than mine, but still, they're human.
So when the villain punched Our Hero in the gunshot shoulder, I laughed. Perversely, even laughing hurt.
Copyright 2013 Michelle Hakala