As much as certain comedy sites seem to revel in mocking the absurdity of classic movie moments, the fact is, that's what Hollywood films are for: We watch them because we want to see things that could never happen in real life.
Except that some of those moments actually did happen, either because they were inspired by reality or because someone saw the movie and said, "Hey, let's do that, too."
#6. Face/Off -- The Cops Ram a Bad Guy's Plane Off the Runway
The Absurd Scene:
In Face/Off, John Travolta is an FBI agent and Nicolas Cage is a dangerous lunatic (he plays a terrorist). At one point Cage's character dresses up as a priest, headbangs his way into a church and grabs the ass of a girl singing in the choir. Then he and Travolta switch faces, literally. Everything about this movie is insane, is what we're saying.
It warped poor Nic forever.
Earlier in the film, before the two switch, Cage is trying to escape in a plane and Travolta stops him by ramming a helicopter into it:
Travolta prevents the plane from taking off and forces Cage to crash into a warehouse made entirely from fireworks, apparently. If you seriously think, even for a second, that a real law enforcement agent would actually try a stunt like that then you're hugely misinformed about how much money they make.
This is about a thousand pensions worth of damage.
Unless we're talking about a cop from Brazil, that is. In 2009, a police chase in Sao Paulo, Brazil, turned into a John Woo film when the cops found themselves racing to reach a plane full of smuggled goods that was about to take off. And then it got really crazy.
As the car closes in, the officer in the passenger seat leans out the window and aims his rifle ... but then the driver says, "Don't shoot, I'm going to hit the wing."
"Yeah, OK, that plan makes more sense."
The officers duck and the car rams the wing, breaking the windshield ...
They must have been driving a pickup truck, because it would take a flatbed to haul those enormous balls.
... and the plane is knocked sideways and lies crooked on the runway.
The cop is yelling "We should exchange insurance info."
As the car turns around, the cop in the passenger seat hops out and runs toward the plane with his rifle ready. If you watch carefully, you can see he starts to shuffle because his legs were getting in the way of the biggest adrenaline boner ever popped.
Heroes are real. And they apparently have the same fashion sense as Steve Jobs.
The officers arrested five suspects and confiscated $200,000 worth of goods, including notebooks, electronic surveillance equipment and a bicycle, which presumably they intended to use as an alternate method of escape.
#5. Mission: Impossible -- Rappelling from the Ceiling
The Absurd Scene:
In the first Mission: Impossible, Ethan Hunt's impossible mission is to sneak into the CIA headquarters and steal some classified files. Problem is, the computer he needs is in a room that's so secure (due to all sorts of lasers and shit on the floor) that the only way to get in undetected is through a vent in the ceiling. So he rappels in and ... do we ... do we really need to go over this? When we said Mission: Impossible, literally the first thing you thought of was this:
Ethan avoids the alarms, downloads the files into a floppy, gets lifted back through the ceiling and escapes. There's a reason that scene is so iconic -- it's completely insane. It's the sort of highly improbable scenario that could only exist in the universe of an action movie, where half the things people do are the result of a director/actor thinking of a cool stunt and forcing the screenwriter to come up with a way to include it.
"Ethan, the bomb can only be diffused by bungee jumping out of this blimp into a live volcano."
Besides, any place with that much internal security would have plenty of other external measures as well. It's not like someone could just climb onto the roof, cut a hole in the ceiling and rappel inside.
In March 2010, a group of highly organized professional thieves used the exact same method as Ethan Hunt ... to rob a Best Buy in New Jersey.
Don't laugh -- their reason was exactly the same: to thwart a system of state of the art motion sensors covering the floor.
Which begs the question, how long has Best Buy been a front for the CIA?
Like Hunt, the thieves had to reach the computers to extract what they needed: namely the computers themselves, like 20 of them, valued at $26,000. According to police, they climbed an exterior pipe and removed a piece of the roof using a suction device. At this point they rappelled into the store, staying 10 feet off the ground at all times -- any lower would have triggered the store's alarm.
"Just looking, thanks."
Still hanging from cables, they broke into the store's storage racks and helped themselves to 20 MacBooks. When they were done, they rappelled back out and left without a trace. Store employees only realized what happened the following morning, when they noticed more debris than usual on the floor and a brand new hole in the ceiling.
Incidentally, "Danger Hole" is the name of our new band.
These guys were so well prepared that they even made sure to stay behind store banners so the security cameras didn't see them. At this point we're pretty sure they didn't go for a government agency simply because it would have been too easy.
#4. The Abyss -- Ed Harris Breathes Liquid
The Absurd Scene:
In The Abyss, Ed Harris plays Bud, a guy who works as the foreman of a futuristic underwater drilling rig, with everything the job entails (dealing with crazed Navy SEALs, missiles, deep sea aliens and so on). In one scene, Bud has to deactivate a bomb that lies ticking on a shelf too deep to reach using scuba gear, so he puts on a suit full of high-tech "breathable liquid" instead. It begins to fill up at 1:35 here.
As the fluid fills his lungs, Bud starts freaking out, and the other guy tells him, "We all breathed liquid for nine months, Bud, your body will remember" -- which is a crock of bullshit. You also absorbed nutrients from a placenta when you were a fetus, that doesn't mean you can plug one into your belly and do away with food.
There's no simple way this could work in the real world ... but this is a James Cameron movie, and vaguely scientific-sounding mumbo jumbo is what he does best. "Breathable liquid" is no more a thing than "a machine that switches your body with a giant blue cat person." Right?
Or "a rich lady who dates poor people."
Not only is this technology real -- the movie itself shows you a real example of it. Remember that scene where a rat is submerged in liquid and doesn't drown?
Yeah, those aren't special effects. That's a real rat, breathing liquid.
In fact, the American Humane Association gave The Abyss an "Unacceptable" rating because they "do not feel it was necessary to subject the rat to this experiment for the purpose of filming the scene." The fact that it was a real rat wasn't widely publicized at the time, possibly because the scene was reportedly censored in some markets, like the UK, at the behest of animal rights organizations.
"We tested it on Ed Harris first to make sure it was safe for the rat."
So how did they do it? Pretty much the same way they explain it in the movie: by using an oxygenated fluorocarbon liquid that mammals can breathe. You see, when someone drowns, they don't die because they have water in their lungs, they die from lack of oxygen. The water is more an inconvenience than anything, since it gets in the way of you getting to the air. If your lungs were full of a fluid they could extract oxygen from, you could breathe it just fine.
"Just fine" = "While completely losing your shit."
But what about humans? Well, in 2010, a guy called Arnold Lande patented a scuba suit just like the one in The Abyss. Breathing liquid solves the three most dangerous medical issues associated with scuba diving: barotrauma and decompression sickness, which are caused by pressurized gas expanding as the diver rises, and alien-killing underwater nukes too deep to deactivate by other means.
Rob Brooks, via The Independent
The only downside is that it makes your lungs visible, even through a scuba suit.