5 Obnoxious Movie Trends You Can't Unsee
The magic of the movies can make you believe all sorts of impossible things, like child wizards, flying super-people, or Johnny Depp being a decent person. But perhaps the best trick is making you watch the exact same plot point in like 20 different films without ever realizing it ... until some smartass points it out. Hi, we're the smartasses.
Your Favorite Action Heroes Keep Killing The Same Exact Henchman
If you saw prolific actor Tait Fletcher on the street, you probably wouldn't recognize him, unless he got punched into an exploding truck or something. See, for the past six years, Fletcher's specialty has been "henchman/victim to the action stars." It started in 2013 with a lesser-known Denzel Washington / Mark Wahlberg film called 2 Guns. You can see Fletcher 50 seconds into this kill count video ...
Shortly after that, Fletcher played one of the Nazis whom Walter White guns down in Breaking Bad's finale. A year later, he happened to be working at a night club visited by John Wick. Like 90 percent of the club's employees, he didn't survive the evening.
That same year, our humble minion went for a rematch with Denzel in The Equalizer. It didn't go well for him this time either.
Fletcher would pop up again in Jurassic World as one of the badass soldiers brought in to stop the dinosaur outbreak at the park ...
... only to get almost immediately eaten by a raptor. But that's not his most undignified death. That would be the time he died uncomfortably close to Ben Affleck's balls in The Accountant.
Fletcher rose again in 2018's Jumanji, where he gets uppercutted into high orbit by Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson.
That's an impressive resume for an actor no one knows. Keep hiring this guy, Hollywood! Unless you're an evil mastermind of some sort. Then maybe contact a temp agency or something.
Related: The 43 Most Overused Movie Tropes
Action Movies Feature A Hidden Villain Revealed In The Third Act
Identifying the bad guy used to be as simple as looking for the curviest mustache and tallest hat. But now movies do everything possible to hide their villains for as long as they can, and it's all probably Christopher Nolan's fault. The Dark Knight trilogy set the formula. First there's the decoy villain in all the trailers, and then there's the one the hero actually has to fight at the end.
Marvel soon jumped on that idea with Iron Man 3 and The Winter Soldier, both of which hyped up a villain in their marketing material (The Mandarin and the Winter Soldier), then revealed that the A-list actor who appeared to be playing just some random guy in the trailers was the real baddie (Guy Pearce and Robert Redford) the whole time!
Even comedies are doing this now. 21 Jump Street revealed that the film's teen drug manufacturer was working for the school gym teacher the entire time. Another lighthearted drug-related romp, Sicario, does pretty much the same thing, only instead of teenage dealers, it's the Mexican cartels, and instead of a teacher, it's the U.S. government.
And hey, did you see the latest Mission: Impossible yet? Spoiler: Henry Cavill's CIA agent is the real final boss.
But superhero movies still remain this trope's biggest fans. Wonder Woman has the seemingly good British politician who turns out to be Ares, Guardians Of The Galaxy Vol. 2 has Star-Lord's secretly evil dad, X-Men has Bryan Singer, and so on. We can't wait until Avengers: Endgame reveals Thanos was always working for, let's say, Aunt May. You heard it here first.
The Big Twist? This Character Has Multiple Personalities!
When Fight Club came out in 1999, everyone was blown away by the movie's twist ending, in which it's revealed that Edward Norton can apparently rock a fur coat (because his character and Brad Pitt's are the same dude).
A lot of people saw that scene and thought, "Wow, that was unexpected. Let's do the exact same thing." First there's the South Korean horror drama A Tale Of Two Sisters, which should have been called A Tale Of One Sister With Serious Issues. Next, there's 2003's Identity, in which John Cusack and nine other people are stuck in a crappy motel and start getting killed off one by one. Turns out they're all different personalities of a serial killer, and this was ... therapy? It doesn't exactly hang together.
Johnny Depp got in on the craze the following year with Secret Window, about a writer who is stalked by a crazy psychopath. Except he's the psycho and has been stalking himself. Sure, this one's based on a 1990 Stephen King novella, but we're betting someone moved it to the top of the pile after seeing Fight Club.
The coup de grace came when Robert De Niro and Dakota Fanning starred in 2005's Hide And Seek, a gritty reboot of the popular children's game. This time, the protagonist is a widower who created the identity of his daughter's creepy, murderous imaginary friend to connect with her. Because there's nothing kids love more than dead cats in bathtubs.
All Tough Guys Have To Stop A Grocery Store Robbery
Back in the mid '80s to the early '90s, there was only one way to show somebody was a tough guy: Have them stop a grocery store robbery as nonchalantly as possible. Take 1986's Cobra, in which Sylvester Stallone waltzes right into an intense hostage situation and even has time for a casual sip of beer.
In 1987, RoboCop took out a crazed grocery store gunman on one of his first patrols, then wished him a good night and left ... without arresting him? There may have been some glitches in the software.
An equally unrealistic character, Steven Seagal, continued this trend in 1990's Hard To Kill by singlehandedly beating the shit out of three robbers. They'd learned to travel in packs for protection, but it wasn't enough.
It was NFL player turned actor Brian Bosworth who took the trope too far in 1991's Stone Cold, in which he can be seen eating cereal right out of the box while taking out multiple criminals without firing a single shot, all in the movie's opening scene. You flew too close to the sun, Boz.
All Biopics Need A Fourth-Wall-Breaking Scene
In the 1999 Steve Jobs / Bill Gates biopic Pirates Of Silicon Valley, there's a scene in which Gates is negotiating with IBM. Halfway through, another character literally steps out of the frame to tell us what a momentous event this is.
That one scene apparently set the tone for biopics in the new century. 24 Hour Party People, a 2002 movie about Manchester's music scene, has a sequence wherein the protagonist finds his wife having sex with Buzzcocks front man Howard Devoto, which is followed by the real Devoto saying he doesn't remember that happening. Seems like a trustworthy guy, too ...
The James Brown movie Get On Up has a scene in which Brown, played by Chadwick Boseman, has an out-of-body experience in order to show 21st-century audiences the ropes of 1965 music promotion.
Financial biopics are particularly fond of fourth-wall-breaking moments, because it lets them dumb down all the boring technical jargon. In The Wolf Of Wall Street, Leonardo DiCaprio starts explaining the shady crap his character was doing, but then stops because, well, none of us morons know what he's saying anyway.
The Big Short, a movie about the housing bubble of the late 2000s, features Selena Gomez, Anthony Bourdain, and Margot Robbie explaining the financial stuff straight to the audience in the most dumbed-down ways possible. Presumably Barney the Dinosaur wasn't available.
By 2017, Robbie had learned the ropes of fourth-wall-breaking and decided to take it all for herself in I, Tonya, which made this a selling point. This culminates in the moment when she faults the entire audience for being complicit in the abuse Tonya Harding got. The movie stops just short of accusing you of paying a guy to break Nancy Kerrigan's leg.
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