Friday, January 13, 2012

Brakes Only Fail on Hills and Other Action Cliches



So here's the thing...I love, LOVE action and suspense. A requirement for my movie-going experience is that something blows up and there are car chases, gunfire, and some form of fight scene in which furniture is used as weapons. Yeah, my husband is totally lucky.


I also write Romantic Suspense...so in my books there are lot of emotions and drama and angsty relationship stuff, but there are also a lot of thrills.  What I don't want is for those scenes to be "done before" and therefore not at all entertaining.


So I've made a list of things that happen in movies and books...scratch that, ALMOST EVERY MOVIE or BOOK...scenes that I should avoid at all costs. Lets start out with the little annoying things...


Photo by San Diego Shooter.
If the heroine is in a nature setting and an animal attacks, she will be the only one the predator goes for despite the fact that there are multiple Sherpas, bad guys lurking in the bushes, and a love interest within inches of her.


Raging river rapids are no match for the speed of the hero despite rough terrain as he is always able to run alongside the person being swept away and in fact...get ahead of them, find a tree that has fallen exactly halfway across the water, and fashion a rescue loop in time to pluck them to safety.


Photo by Greggoconnel.
Bad guys always kill someone in front of giant picture windows with open drapes. Especially when the heroine is jogging by or bird watching and accidentally happens to look at said window with binoculars or a camera.
Corollary to this rule is that her face is always brightly lit by lightning or passing car headlights to give the villain a proper look at her.


Random hot guy in glasses.
Super sexy heroes never have glasses. They never squint, hold secret evidence files at arms length to read them, and they can always decipher-pronounce obscure words even if they are in a different language or from a magical realm.


Intercourse is possible with any sentient being from any corner of the universe/realm/magical species because they all are physically identical to humans -- except hotter. They also fall in love instantly, for very specific reasons, for eternity even if they have just glanced at the heroine.


Photo by Wonderlane.
All bombers abide by the international color codes for wires so that the hero/heroine knows which wire to cut. The exception to this rule is of course, if the hero/heroine is in fact a bomb expert...then the bomb is "something they've never seen before" and the wire they cut makes the time go faster.


If your brakes fail, you MUST be either in San Francisco during some sort of protest or on winding dark mountain cliff roads where you will end up dangling with two tires teetering over a deadly drop...otherwise the hero cannot find and rescue you just as a bird lands on the bumper and causes the car to fall and explode. 


Heroes must always be intimately acquainted with every street, access road, and "secret shortcut" of any city they are in despite having never visited before. They must also be able to navigate dark and defunct boiler rooms below street-level with nothing but a lighter and a keen sense of hearing.


Secret dynamo.
All hackers are antisocial, pierced/tattooed, have strange or ironic hairdo's and are secret dynamos in the sack.


Okay, that one is actually probably spot on...>


Those are some of my favorite action/thriller cliches...do you have any that just irritate you? How about some fallacies that really pull you out of the book and make you roll your eyes?


Until next time...Go Write!

First photo by o5com.

22 comments:

mooderino said...

All the evidence points to one person being the baddie, so you know it definitely won't be them.

mood
Moody Writing
@mooderino
The Funnily Enough

Raquel Byrnes said...

LOL! That's a good one!

Michael Offutt, Visitor from the Future said...

How about men are always the rapist and the bad guy. Women can never be the bad guy or the rapist.

Raquel Byrnes said...

It's true that women can be predators too. Good point, Michael.

DEZMOND said...

ah hah, I'm totally different, I'm not such an action fan, I love smelling flowers and enjoying the sunshine instead of car chases and gunfests :)

Erin Kane Spock said...

Things like plastic patio furniture are good at deflecting bullet spray. That and the bad guy is always a bad shot.
It is a wonderful coincidence that all alien life has similar genital lay out.
Great post.

Ciara said...

I'm still laughing at this:

Intercourse is possible with any sentient being from any corner of the universe/realm/magical species because they all are physically identical to humans -- except hotter. They also fall in love instantly, for very specific reasons, for eternity even if they have just glanced at the heroine.

That is happening in SO many books lately. I'm like, really?

Donna Hole said...

I don't know Hon, you pretty much nailed it for me :) My kids hate me when I tell them exactly what will happen in the next scene "because it is an industry standard that cannot be changed."

Thanks Racquel. Been missing you around lately :)

.......dhole

Misha Gericke said...

Lol I loved the one about the Bomb.

Another one that's eye-roll worthy: The black guy and blond girl (unless she's the love interest) always die first.

:-)

Jamie (Mithril Wisdom) said...

I love it - all so true.
My favourite cliche is that the hero always walks away slowly from an explosion and never looks back.

Or if they're a comedic hero or a supporting character, they'll run like hell and jump BEFORE the blast hurls them in the air.

Trisha said...

Loved this post Raquel - and these are the kinds of cliches that annoy me too. But I too am a lover of action movies!

Gina Blechman said...

Hehe. I love the bird tipping over the car. Nice touch.

More cliches:

1) passcodes are always easily retrievable and have a secret meaning

2) The hero is always taking a moment to think or has given up when whatever activity he is doing magically spurs the answer to all of his problems

3) ALl villains give lengthy speaches before they kill you so that you have more time to outwit them

4) There's always button, a lever, or an extra something stored away to turn any bad situation better.

<3 Gina Blechman

Damyanti said...

Some of these cliches crack me up :)

Raquel Byrnes said...

Desmond - I should do sensite movie cliches just for you!

Erin - bad guys are the worst shots...like spraying a room with automatic fire and missing everyone type of bad.

Ciara - I was chuckling myself while writing it.

Donna - so glad to be back! Thanks so much! :)

Misha - I totally know, right? Like the poor red shirt dudes who die first on star trek!

Jamie - come on now...the slow motion tough guy walk is my total favorite! LOL!

Trisha - a kindred action junkie!

Gina - the bad guy monologue ...classic!

Damyanti - it was fun to write...thanks for stopping by! :)

Lynda R Young said...

lol, so funny. Love this list.
Villains always talk too much and reveal their plans giving the hero time to escape.

Lindsay N. Currie said...

LOL some of these actually made me crack up! Good post:)

Raquel Byrnes said...

Lynda - I forgot about the diabolical plan reveal...classic.

Lindsay - So glad you had a laugh! Thanks so much for stopping by. :)

Eric W. Trant said...

Ah, the problem isn't the cliche, but the setup of the situation.

For instance, your first one, with the animals attacking on the heroine.

I went to lunch Friday with a group of co-workers. One of the women mentioned she uses a special oil on her skin, like peanut oil or flax seed or something, and I said, My God, woman, you're basting yourself!

She said, Yeah, the dogs will lick my leg all night if I let them.

I said, Sure they will. You taste like a pork chop.

So if you set that up in advance, then of course the animals all attack your heroine.

Watch the Bourne series, or better yet, read it, if you haven't already.

He sets up the scenes such that they are believable.

For another instance, knowing all the shortcuts, in one of the Bourne's, Jason rips off an emergency exit map from the wall, and uses it to locate stairways and avoid the po-po.

So there's another cliche, but properly set up and executed. Our hero knows all the exits, but now you understand how and why.

Set it up right, and it's no longer a cliche.

Also, I dispute the perfect hero without glasses. Read Dan Brown sometime. His hero is a nerd supreme.

I love your list, though. I will add this:

o Ankle twists

o Seven minute underwater getaways holding breath

o Calm death scenes with I never got to see Paris comments. Believe me, your last thoughts will be something like, Where the hell is 911! The only movies who do this right are the army movies, and still they don't twitch and kick and scream enough.

- Eric

MK said...

I had dozens of action/suspense movies flowing through my mind while reading your list...and so true on every one - thanks for the post.

Raquel Byrnes said...

Eric - Thank you for the logic bomb...I shall be sure to include legume extracts in my current plot for believability. :)

I am a huge fan of Ludlum and in fact read the Bourne books when they were in their original cold war scenario. Back when the code in his hip was a tiny scroll, not a laser pointer. Love his writing!

MK - Glad you liked it and thanks for stopping by!

Patrick M.Valentine said...

Wow! Thank you! I constantly needed to write on my blog something like that. Can I take a fragment of your post to my website?
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