#3. Jena Malone Is on the Other Side of the Mirror
Every once in a while, you'll see a shot in a movie that leaves you wondering, "How the hell did they do that?" (the answer is blue screens, probably). Those shots tend to stick in your mind, so the chances of another filmmaker getting away with doing the exact same thing are slim. The chances of them doing it with the exact same actress (albeit 14 years older) are even slimmer, but apparently no one told that to Zack Snyder.
You see, in Robert Zemeckis' 1997 film Contact (which according to the IMDb summary is about "aliens or some shit"), there's a tricky sequence where a girl finds out that something has happened to her dad, and in her panic, the world gets all slow-motiony as she's running for the medicine cabinet. The girl is Jodie Foster's character as a 12-year-old, played by child actress Jena Malone.
Who has a much better agent than Foster, since she's not playing hookers at that age.
The camera follows as Malone runs up the stairs and into the bathroom in one continuous shot, but then this happens:
Turns out the whole thing -- including the part where the camera follows her up the stairs -- was happening inside the bathroom mirror, somehow. You can listen to Robert Zemeckis explain how they did that here (but, yeah, it's "blue screens").
Jump forward 14 years to Zack Snyder's Sucker Punch, which is basically Alice in Wonderland with machine guns (and strippers). The same effect shows up in a scene where two of the leads are having a discussion in front of a series of vanity mirrors. The camera slowly pans around them ...
... eventually crossing over to the other side of the mirror and blowing your mind.
Recognize the woman in the middle? Yep, that's a no-longer-child actress Jena Malone, repeating the same intricate special effect she did when she was a kid. In a movie where she plays a stripper. OK, so maybe her agent isn't so good after all.
Gregg DeGuire / Getty
Snyder was probably trying to draw a visual parallel between his movie and Through the Looking Glass with this shot, or maybe he just thought it looked neat. Whatever the case, he owes a great debt to Zemeckis' Contact, because he also repeated the shot of the main character running in slo-mo for every other scene he's ever shot.
#2. Michael Biehn Repeatedly Gets Owned by an Incapacitated Secondary Character
Michael Biehn is known for playing iconic roles in some amazing movies, many of them directed by James Cameron, who for some reason is fond of having Biehn's characters get bitten on the hand. But at least we can chalk that up to Cameron secretly hating Biehn; what's less explicable is that, for some reason, the actor also has a thing for playing badasses who get taken down by another character who is sick and specifically says he can't go on, in movies by different directors.
He's saved the world from aliens and killer robots, but honestly, his girlfriends did the bulk of the work.
This started in Cameron's 1989 flick The Abyss, in which a team of deep-sea oil drillers led by Ed Harris find themselves dealing with Cold War-era nukes, paranoid Navy SEALs, and underwater aliens. Biehn portrays the leader of the SEAL team, who succumbs to HPNS, flips his shit, and must be taken out by Harris before he nukes the fuck out of the friendly deep-sea aliens. The fight goes about as well as you'd expect a fight between Kyle Reese and Jackson Pollock to go.
But then, just as Harris is about to have his throat slashed by Biehn, his far more formidable buddy Catfish -- last seen shivering from hypothermia and apologizing for being unable to help out -- shows up and dislocates Biehn's smug mustache with a well-placed knuckle sandwich.
Biehn tries to escape in a sub, which, well, doesn't really work out for him very well.
You'd think he would have learned the lesson, but nope: Later, in the Western Tombstone, the same thing happens. This time Biehn portrays psycho badass Johnny Ringo, an enforcer for outlaw gang the Cowboys, who must be taken out by Wyatt Earp (Kurt Russell) before he escapes justice and reproduces, creating more people with the surname "Ringo." Earp knows he's no match for Ringo, but agrees to a duel anyway, because he has no choice.
And then, at the last moment, Earp's far more formidable buddy Doc Holliday (Val Kilmer) -- last seen shivering from fever and apologizing for being unable to help out -- shows up and dislocates Biehn's hairline with a well-placed bullet.
The lesson here is don't grow a mustache if you can't handle it.
#1. Brian Cox Plays a Government Operative Who Created an Amnesiac Badass ... Three Times
Brian Cox is a fantastic character actor, which is what we call someone who plays essentially the same person in every movie. In his case, that person is an operative of a shadowy government agency that is always brought down by an amnesiac super-agent it created. How does an accomplished Shakespearean actor end up becoming Hollywood's go-to guy for such a specific role? No idea, but he's played it in four movies so far (and only two of those belong to the Bourne Identity series).
It all started in 1996 with a film called The Long Kiss Goodnight. In it, Geena Davis is a housewife who was found washed up on a beach, all amnesia-y, eight years prior. One day she discovers that she's an unstoppable killing machine trained by the CIA, and the man who trained her is Dr. Nathan Waldman, played by Brian Cox.
"The first critical spy lesson: Never be on the same continent as sobriety."
It turns out Geena's old CIA bosses are involved in a plot to perpetrate a chemical weapon attack and blame it on terrorists, so she decides to end their shit, and does. Yes, the amnesiac secret weapon comes back to fuck up the shadowy agency that spawned it, which you might also recognize as the plot of the Jason Bourne movies, only with Geena Davis instead of Matt Damon, Samuel L. Jackson instead of Franka Potente ... and Brian Cox instead of Brian Cox.
Brian "Tell Wardrobe I'll Bring My Own Glasses" Cox.
In The Bourne Identity and The Bourne Supremacy, Cox plays Ward Abbott, a CIA man whose black ops group Treadstone was responsible for creating the amnesiac killing machine Jason Bourne. And we know what Bourne is all about: ending them fuckers' shit. Say, where else have we seen this type of character? Hint: Add metal claws and a ridiculous perm, and you've got ...
Yep, Wolverine of the X-Men. As it happens, in X2: X-Men United, Cox portrays General William Stryker, head of the goddamned Weapon X project that creates fucking Wolverine, who of course has amnesia and whose mutant power is murder.
"He never learned the noble art of face painting, so we declared the project a failure."
In all three instances, Cox ends up dying as a result of his involvement in the project. So maybe training someone to kill everything in its path, wiping its memory, and then standing directly in its path isn't the greatest plan after all.
Mike Floorwalker has a website that is just tops.
For more acting quirks, check out 6 Iconic Movie Scenes That Happened by Accident and 5 Amazing Performances From Actors Who Weren't Acting.
If you're pressed for time and just looking for a quick fix, then check out A Video Game Made by the NRA (That Explains A Lot).
And stop by LinkSTORM to see why Nic Cage is never acting.
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