There's a reliable economics to movie character deaths. If a heroic character is going out, you can bet it will be with plenty of slow-motion shots of his eyes looking to the heavens. Villains are more of a mixed bag. Hans Gruber snapped off enough clever one-liners to earn some extreme slow motion as he plummeted to his death, while the bad guys who tried to kill Vito Corleone in his hospital bed got coolly dispatched with a mouthful of pasta halfway down their throats. But occasionally, a movie chooses to kill completely innocent characters in the most horrible way possible for no discernible reason. For instance ...
#5. A Paralyzed Mutant -- X2
Like all X-Men movies and comics, X2: X-Men United is about what a bunch of assholes able-bodied humans can be to our differently abled mutant peers. And no character bears the brunt of our assholery more than Jason Stryker. His father is the movie's mutant-despising villain Col. William Stryker, who sends Jason to Professor X's school because he thinks it's one of those gay-to-straight conversion camps for curing people of their superpowers. When he learns that Professor X is teaching Jason to embrace his power (creating controlled hallucinations in people's minds), he blames himself for doing a terrible job researching the school and learns to love his son for what he is. Or that's what he would do if he wasn't the worst father in the world. In reality, he yanks Jason out of his self-actualizing environment, lobotomizes him and uses his son's brain as the joystick in his quest to destroy everyone who has the nerve to be disgustingly abled like him.
"Well, I might be biased, but I think that's the best Christmas card photo we've ever taken."
And that's before we even get to the fact that Jason's in a wheelchair, which is what the X-Men universe does when someone with telekinetic powers needs to seem more sympathetic.
OK, so Jason doesn't exactly pull off "sympathetic" so much as "Donnie Wahlberg's character in The Sixth Sense, as played by Crispin Glover." But you'd probably look a little washed out, too, if your Dad was using your brain to kill an entire race of people just because they remind him of you. Jason is a character who is built to be pitied, not hated. He's no more responsible for his actions than Master Chief is responsible for having worse aim when you're drunk.
As the climax closes in, Jason's dad is using his brain to trick Professor X into killing all the world's mutants. The X-Men figure out what's going on just in time, and Nightcrawler teleports to Professor X's side to find him sitting across from Jason in the belly of a crumbling dam.
"Thank goodness for the Protagonists With Disabilities Act, eh?"
Unfortunately for Jason, the dam is about to disintegrate and kill everyone in its general vicinity, he's in a wheelchair and he's spent the last hour helping his dad screw with the only people who could save him. Fortunately for Jason, there's a clear precedent for this sort of scenario that says you always take pity on the pathetic bad guy who's being taken advantage of. If you've seen The Goonies take pity on Sloth or The Karate Kid take mercy on Johnny Lawrence, you know that Nightcrawler's next move should be to lift Jason out of his wheelchair and tell him "It's not your fault" while a bear hug teleports them both to safety.
So what does Nightcrawler do?
Guys? Guys, it's not funny anymore.
Either because they forget that Jason is handicapped and therefore can't escape or even move, or because they just don't care, they just leave Jason to helplessly sit there as the entire dam collapses in on him.
It's not like they didn't have the time. A few minutes later, the X-Men are still escaping, and they take the time to offer to save the life of Jason's father -- the guy who was manipulating the mutant they just left to die. When Stryker tells them to go screw themselves, they just move on. The movie remembers to apply its core message of compassion for mutants and mankind to every single character except the most pathetic and helpless of them all.
But to be fair, he did have stupid hair, and he deserved to die for that.
#4. A Bank Full of People -- Fast Five
Fast Five took a bold new step in cinematic not giving a fuck. By forgetting about the fictional world of underground drag racing and focusing on a ridiculous heist, the movie parked itself firmly in the realm of gloriously stupid action spectacles like The Rock. But one thing The Rock knows is that you go out of your way to show that your reckless car chase isn't killing the many, many innocent bystanders it totally would in reality. When Sean Connery steals a Hummer and drives it like a speeding tank through San Francisco, he does so while screaming at people to get out of his way the whole time.
We're pretty sure that's either Sean Connery's real o-face or his pooping face. Maybe both.
When a cop car speeding after him crashes into a cab, the movie makes sure to show that the driver is standing outside at the moment. The fact that the movie does it with good old-fashioned racism reminds you that we're still dealing with Michael Bay.
"How do we make sure people know this guy's the cab driver, while at the same time promoting ridiculous stereotypes?"
The Fast franchise is new at this, and the characters aren't great at keeping words straight in their heads anyway. So in the film's climactic scene, when Vin Diesel and Paul Walker drag a giant wrecking ball of a safe between their two cars, it's bad news for everyone: the presumably full cabs that get slammed into at full speed ...
... the hundreds of cops in cars that get junked by the giant people-crusher the heroes are dragging behind them ...
... and any of the innocent people unlucky enough to be anywhere they have to make a turn.
They'll be OK. Counting the centripetal whip, it can't be going more than, say, 50 miles per hour, right?
The movie cuts away before anyone inside that bank is physically crushed by the vault, and the last time we see them, they're fleeing, so it's always possible that everyone banking that day has superhuman reflexes and made it out OK.
But there's one young lady who the movie seems to go to extreme lengths to make sure you know has been vaporized by our heroes. We first see her at the moment when Walker and Diesel see a chain of spikes ahead and decide they have to make a right.
We'll call her "Judeth Soonfucked."
That's Walker and Diesel's cars in the upper-left-hand corner. The cops in the middle distance are the ones that they have to veer right to avoid, and the woman in the foreground is standing where physicists would draw an "X" labeled "point of impact."
It might seem odd that they'd go out of their way to place an innocent woman in the path of danger, but this is the same trick we saw in The Rock. You raise the question of innocent deaths, and then show the bystanders miraculously escaping in order to put everyone's minds at ease.
But when we cut back to the same shot, she hasn't moved an inch. We see the cars narrowly avoiding her, but she's still standing in the geometrically worst possible place with regard to the giant steel block swinging behind them.
If the steel block doesn't get her, the ropes, flying glass and exploding bank should do the trick.
Not only does Fast Five not show her get out of the way, it gives her the old "out of the frying pan into the fire" death -- when a despised villain dodges the fast-moving train only to be killed more horribly by the train coming from the opposite direction that's made of razor blades. In this case, you can practically hear the woman thinking "What a close call. As long as those two cars that almost hit me aren't dragging a giant wrecking ball behind them, my innocent life has been spared."
And that's the last we see of her ... the cars are hanging a sharp turn directly in front of her with a giant safe clanking toward her at top speed. It is not, however, the last we see of the front of the bank.
Pow! In your face, anonymous Latina woman! Also, every other part of your body.
The movie acknowledges that they've just turned an innocent woman into hamburger meat by pausing the action so Diesel can shoot Walker a look of regret.
Though it should be noted that Diesel's look of regret is nearly indistinguishable from his look of "I'm farting silently."
#3. Thousands of Lives -- Bruce Almighty
When God lets Bruce co-pilot the planet Earth and all of its moral and metaphysical concerns, his first move is to use his newfound power to get laid. One of the ways he goes about doing this is by pulling out some invisible rope and lassoing the moon closer, in order to impress his girlfriend, Jennifer Aniston.
Ladies: If your date ever literally lassos the moon, he is not God.
You have been drugged and need to seek immediate medical attention.
Those of our readers who keep up with the latest scientific findings may have heard that the moon controls the Earth's tides, and therefore could guess that moving the moon closer might cause some issues. Flooding, giant waves, super werewolves. Of course, that's just us reading too far into a lighthearted moment in a PG-rated comedy, right?
Actually, nope. The movie totally acknowledges just what hell Bruce has brought onto the planet Earth in his quest for mood lighting. After becoming the first woman ever to have her world rocked by the dick of God, Jennifer Aniston wakes up to turn on the news and catches a brief clip about a major tsunami in the Pacific.
"Wow, it looks like that part of the world got rocked by the dick of God."
The movie came out in 2003, less than one year before an enormous tsunami rolled on the Pacific, killing 228,000 people and splashing images just like that across TVs in the real world. Fortunately for humanity, God gave his powers to Bruce, who springs into action by ignoring the whole thing. In fact, other than a throwaway line by Morgan Freeman about how actions have consequences, there's no mention of this natural disaster for the rest of the movie.
"The American middle class is where I am truly needed."
We understand that God works in mysterious ways, but sacrificing thousands of lives in order to teach a Buffalo-area weatherman to shape up and not be a dick seems less mysterious than "bad at his job." At least now when children ask why God would let bad things happen to them, you can confidently answer that it's because God likes giving his power away to teach douchebags a lesson.
Holy shit, don't scare him; he's loaded!"