Action movies have always been in an arms race to outdo each other. Stunts and effects get bigger, louder, and stupider. There's no time for realism when they're too busy showing us Vin Diesel ramping a car over a train while both are simultaneously exploding. But sometimes, real life does in fact resemble a Michael Bay movie, only minus the giant robots (usually). That's why in the real world we've seen ...
#5. Ski-Racing an Avalanche for Fun
This is one of those scenes too stupid for a James Bond movie: Our hero is skiing or boarding down a mountain when an avalanche thunders behind him, and he races ahead of it before he can be crushed under a thousand tons of snow. What was too ridiculous for Bond was not too ridiculous for Vin Diesel in xXx, however:
Or Call of Duty: Black Ops:
Or the animated feature Hoodwinked!
Yes, it's so ridiculous a stunt that two of our three examples were a cartoon and a video game. And the other one was Vin Diesel.
Who, in a St. Elsewhere twist, turned out to be playing a video game.
Matthias Giraud and Stefan Laude are both experienced skiers used to zooming around on mountaintops. But their love of skiing was lacking one thing: enough danger. That's right: They actively looked for an avalanche to race. After finally finding one, they both strapped on their cameras and got down to the business of defying death:
At the start of the video, nothing seems out of the ordinary. Then at around the 1:15 mark, Giraud jumps off a cliff and deploys a parachute. Only then do they turn the camera around for the big reveal: There was a monster avalanche chasing them the whole way down.
"You hear something?"
If that giant snow debris field strikes you as being dangerously close, you're not dreaming. The avalanche actually beat Giraud to the edge, meaning he was mere seconds away from being buried under the crushing weight of tons of snow. Snow that he purposefully wanted chasing him down the slopes, just for the adrenaline rush. Note the lack of CGI on that shit.
#4. An Aerial Battle in a Canyon
It's easy to call BS on everything that happens in Independence Day. The moment we saw Jeff Goldblum hack an alien mothership with a 1995-era laptop, we knew they weren't exactly going for realism. But there is one scene even sillier than that.
In what universe would Bill Pullman be elected president? Really.
In the first battle between the alien fighters and the U.S. Air Force, every U.S. fighter is destroyed except for Will Smith's because he does something no pilot should ever do: He takes the duel down into a canyon. With the alien ship chasing him, he goes dodging around rock formations with inches to spare, until the alien ship crashes. Needless to say, taking a real aircraft into that situation would be a fiery death sentence, even if no one was pursuing you.
Also, in the real world, that dog would be extra well-done.
On November 13, 1966, Israeli Air Force pilot Ran Ronen was flying a mission with three others to intercept hostile Syrian aircraft that were firing on Israeli troops. When they arrived, however, they found eight Syrian Hawker Hunter fighters. Not giving a damn about being outnumbered 2-1, they promptly engaged in a majestic ballet of gunfire and aerial maneuvering.
The two sides proved so well-matched that after several minutes, neither had shot anyone down. The other three Israeli pilots bugged out, but Ronen wasn't done yet. He quickly singled out a Hunter, piloted by Muwaffaq Salti, and, yes, pursued him into a freaking canyon.
"This will be great practice for our attack on the Death Star."
The Syrian pilots had been trained by the Royal Air Force, and Salti proved more than a match for Ronen as the two zoomed through the canyon, skillfully dodging walls and hills while still trying to kill each other.
Eventually Salti made a grave error when he pulled too far off of a crest, and Ronen managed to shoot him down. Oh, and he did it without crashing his own aircraft, making him a bit more badass than Will Smith.
"Yeah, it probably would have been easier if I hadn't been texting."
#3. A Couple of Pirates Stealing a Huge Ship With Some Elaborate Ruse
In Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl, Captain Jack Sparrow finds himself lacking a ship after his first one comically springs a leak. Following a prideful entrance riding his mast into the harbor, Sparrow sets his sights on a small but fast British warship called the HMS Interceptor.
Recruiting the help of a strangely well-groomed blacksmith, he succeeds in stealing the warship. How? By duping the dock authorities in an elaborate scheme that involves pretending to steal another ship, then swinging over to the HMS Interceptor while everyone else is searching the first ship for the elusive Captain Jack Sparrow.
"We'll pull the old rely-on-the-antagonists-being-blithering-idiots trick!"
It's the sort of thing that works in these Bugs Bunny-esque movies where every bad guy is a naive buffoon. Stealing a real vessel worth millions of dollars with one or two guys takes a little more than wacky misdirection and pirate shenanigans.
Unless you're Max Hardberger, that is. And we're not talking about one incident of stealing a single ship via flamboyant deception. Hardberger, a former high school history teacher, has made his career stealing ships. Not just little dinky yachts, but full-size gigantic freighters.
"Captain, pirates have boarded the bow! They'll be here any day!"
Throughout his super-pirate career, Hardberger has stolen around a dozen ships from ports around the world for his clients. See, shipping companies have problems with foreign nations using legal loopholes or forged documents to trap their ships in their ports. Companies thus turn to Hardberger (since he is the only person in the world insane enough for this profession) to steal back their ships for them. And the schemes Hardberger uses are as crazy as they come.
Like the time in Haiti when he hired a voodoo priest to scare the guards, paying the guy $100 to threaten them with a curse if they called for help while he and his men stole the boat. Another time in Greece, he simply waited until a holiday and made sure several cases of liquor were sent to the coast guard office overlooking the port. When he sailed away, no one was in any condition to stop him.
"OK, girls, who wants to play 'Thar she blows?'"
He has never failed to get a ship. Not even when warships were hunting him down. How did he best a warship? By sailing into the middle of storm so they couldn't see him on radar.
Hardberger is still working today as a sort of one-man A-Team up for hire by anyone who needs their ship back. So if you have a ship currently held illegally by another nation and you are reading this article, you're welcome.
Max Hardberger via Time
He's also available for striking awesome poses in front of large ships.
Speaking of laughably stupid maritime stunts ...