Neo lives in the Matrix. John Rambo spent years training in the military and has decades of combat experience. The Terminator is a robot. In each case, the movies make it pretty clear why these guys are badasses, even if what they do isn't totally realistic. In an action movie, we're good with believing that at some point Rambo took a class in how to twist a dude's head off.
But sometimes action movies take annoying liberties, showing everyday dudes doing things that, in the real world, take weeks or months to learn. And dammit, we're not just going to let them get away with it.
Occupation Impersonated: Professional skydiver
Actual Occupation: FBI agent
Training Time Required: One to four weeks of non-stop training
In this early 90s surf-related bank heist movie, Keanu Reeves plays Johnny Utah, an FBI agent who is forced to go deep undercover as a totally rad surfer to locate and infiltrate a Los Angeles surfing and bank robbery gang.
Only in L.A.!
Utah spends a pretty hefty montage learning how to surf so he can integrate himself into the surfing community, where he attracts the attention and gains the respect and trust of the alpha male of surfing, Bodhi (Patrick Swayze), and his gang (which incidentally is also the gang that's responsible for the bank robberies). Eventually, Utah realizes that the surfers are the robbers, and he even reluctantly accompanies the thieves on one bank robbery that involves skydiving. It's that kind of movie.
When our grand kids ask us what the 90s were like, we will show them this movie and nothing else.
Later, when Bodhi realizes that Utah is in the FBI, he decides to kidnap Utah's girlfriend and make a getaway in a small airplane, because the producers could only secure transportation permits for surfboards, planes and parachutes, for some reason. Utah pursues Bodhi, who exercises his one in-plane escape option: He skydives the fuck out of there with his other criminal surfer friends, leaving Utah out of luck without a chute.
Sure, there is still a pilot and no immediate danger to his life, but Utah is no quitter (or thinker, or planner, or good at his job). Armed with a pistol, Utah jumps out of the plane, totally chuteless and scared shitless, and catching up with Bodhi in mid-air, puts Bodhi at gun point, shares his chute and eventually lands safely. We won't spoil the ending because we don't need to in order to get to the point ...
Utah states, before his skydiving robbery, that he had never gone skydiving in his life. Mind you he also says this about surfing, and while it takes him weeks to master surfing enough to impress Bodhi, it takes him one jump to successfully dive without a chute, goggles, or an altimeter and catch up with another person and piggy back for his life.
Raise your hand if you've gone skydiving. Now we're willing to bet that most of you with your hands up paid about $160 to be strapped to some fat guy who has been doing it his whole life. Don't be embarrassed -- it's called tandem skydiving and, not only is it normal, it is the only way you will be allowed to skydive. No one goes solo his first time out. You get crammed into a tiny plane while strapped to a more experienced diver, and then you get dropped a few thousand feet in the air and you scream, while he pulls the chute. Generally, the experienced diver also handles steering to make sure you don't crash and break your legs like an asshole which, sure as you're born, you would do without his help.
This is not the first lesson in Skydiving School.
The point (break) we are trying to make is that skydiving is for professionals. In our world, it takes someone at least a week of back-to-back tandem jumps and lessons to feel comfortable going it alone, and then another month to be ready to get in a formation with other people, and then it takes infinite time to be comfortable enough to jump out of a plane without a chute or any other equipment. Utah is already fitting into formation on his first jump and casually free-falling for his second.
Also, Gary Busey doing anything with a newspaper besides rolling it up for a coke straw requires too much suspension of disbelief.
Occupation Impersonated: Computer engineer/control center manager
Actual Occupation: "Hacker"/child
Training Time Required: Six to eight years
This one should annoy every programmer in the audience.
In Jurassic Park, a boy and a girl are part of a rag-tag group spending a weekend trying to survive a camp full of dinosaurs that've escaped their pens, thanks to a parkwide power outage caused by corrupt JP employee/technical wizard Dennis Nedry.
Anyone else notice that fat people ruin, like, everything?
Fed up with his job, Nedry sticks a big, fat, squealing wrench into the park's security system by way of a virus, cluster-fucking it beyond help. Why he feels the need to completely destroy the entire operation on the monster island in order to shut off one security camera is beyond us, but there you go, that's what he did.
And that's when the ball really gets rolling. The island goes tits-up as another engineer, John Arnold (Samuel L. Jackson), tries desperately to override Nedry's handy work and get the park secured. After tracking Nedry's every keystroke used in the past few hours, he finds the source of the virus and concludes the following aloud: "I can't get Jurassic Park online without Dennis Nedry." The system is eventually rebooted, but not before both Nedry and Arnold get killed, leaving the park devoid of anyone who could actually run the complex security system.
There are several design flaws here we won't get into
Lex Murphy, a teenage girl who, while claiming to be a hacker, was seen going nuts over getting to use a CD-ROM drive in the car and, as we have brought up in the past, can't figure out how to use a flashlight, takes only a few minutes to completely restore every system in the park while under threat of immediate raptor death. She simply sits down at a computer, says "I know this" and solves a problem in minutes that a trained computer engineer couldn't solve in hours.
"IT'S OK, I SPEAK COMPUTER."
Let's talk about the park itself. Jurassic Park contains 11 electrified animal paddocks, as well as five secured maintenance buildings, a heavily fortified lodge and visitor's center, two docks and one helipad. There is also a main perimeter fence surrounding it all. All of this is run from the control room in the park's visitor's center through a high-tech Unix security and operations system. This system has been designed to take care of everything from telephone lines and communication to the all the electric barriers and fences, including the individual doors in all the buildings. It is a system so complex that one of the park's regular engineers can't run it alone, and Lex simply "knows it"?
Sort of like how the raptors "know" how to hack their doors.
What could she know? She knows the unique computer system that was specifically invented to run Jurassic Park? Where would she learn that? Just knowing how to operate a computer doesn't quite mean that she can operate that computer. You're probably using a computer right this second, but being able to browse dick jokes on the Internet is a far cry from knowing how to break into a high-tech security system and keeping the world safe from giant monsters.
Occupation Impersonated: Consultant and honorary Marine/ alien destroyer
Actual Occupation: Warrant officer/salvager/90-year-old
Training Time Required: 12 weeks to five Years, not counting Alien Destroying School
In the beginning of Aliens, Ripley is recovered by a salvage team and brought to the Gateway Station, which is currently orbiting Earth. Once there she is awkwardly told that she has been in hypersleep for 57 years and everyone she ever knew or loved is dead. Due to her appearance of mental instability, Ripley is stripped of her flight license and forced to get a shitty job loading space docks.
We'd take a job with the Condom Disposal Squad if it meant access to that thing.
Later, her old employers lose contact with their colony on LV-426, the planet on which the aliens were first discovered. They decide to send a team of badass space Marines and Ripley (as a consultant), to the planet to find out what happened, and possibly rescue any survivors.
Do the Marines use consultants often?
Ripley is one of the only people with knowledge of the aliens, but that in no way makes her a qualified consultant. She's a 90-year-old, nightmare-infested, post-traumatic-stress-disorder-ridden civilian. She wakes up screaming, talks to her cat and the information she provides is jumbled, half-remembered and incomplete. Bishop the android does a better job conveying information after spending just a few minutes on the aliens' planet.
Further, Ripley has no military training. The Marines must have all attended space boot-camp to get to the rank of Flamethrower-Wielding Alien-Blaster, while Ripley had spent the previous 60 years sleeping and, before that, screaming at giant monsters. Her one lesson involves Corporal Hicks spending a couple of minutes showing her where the trigger is.
"Which button makes it go, again?"
Yet, the entire climax of the film involves her strapping on a machine gun/grenade launcher combo, flamethrower and lots of spare grenades. She conducts a direct assault on the alien queen and manages to use all of her weapons effectively, when just not accidentally murdering herself would have qualified her as a prodigy.
You get so used to that iconic image of her brandishing the guns on the poster that you forget she had no idea how to use any of that stuff.