How many times have you watched a movie only to wish the creators had added a touch of plausibility to the fight scenes? After all, not everyone can be Saving Private Ryanbut sometimes the audience is left scratching their heads at how so many villains are so bad at closing the deal with their do-gooder enemies.
It’s hard not to feel like Scott Evil—Dr. Evil’s distraught teenage son, who, after learning of Austin Powers’ capture, urges his father, that he has insanity issues, to shoot his nemesis on the spot. To which Dr. Evil replies, “I have a better idea, Scott. I’m going to put him in an easily escaped situation that involves an overly elaborate and exotic death.”
This top ten runs through some of the most obvious moments in movie history when some of our favorite heroes “should be pushing the daisies.”
Related: Ten Most Unlikely Movie Heroes
10 Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire: Voldemort in the Graveyard
In it goblet of fire (2005), directed by Mike Newell, Harry finds himself once again in a life and death situation. After the Triwizard Tournament, Harry and Cedric are cornered in the graveyard for which he will not be named. Of course, the hero is used to shaving, but he shouldn’t have gotten out of this alive.
To say that the odds were stacked against him is an understatement. He is fourteen years old and is surrounded by Death Eaters. And as his name suggests, dispatching his enemies is right at the top of a Death Eater’s resume. If that wasn’t enough, the world’s most powerful wizard leads them and is determined to take more than just the youngsters’ school lunch money. Potter.
In the end, it is Voldemort himself who saves Harry thinking that only he should finish him off. It’s a familiar trope of outnumbered heroes, as the supervillain prevents his own minions from finishing the job by taking on a monologue on his behalf. Either way, one lucky Harry survives to continue his journey, though unfortunately Cedric is not so lucky.
9 Star Wars: Episode IV: Hans Solo vs. Stormtroopers armed with blasters
The butt of a thousand memes, the lack of military skill of stormtroopers has become the stuff of movie folklore.
If it’s plausibility you’re looking for, then I wouldn’t suggest looking in a galaxy far away and from a long time ago. The climax of the original trilogy sees teddy bears barely able to climb a fallen tree trunk inflict a crushing defeat on the most fearsome elite fighting force in the universe.
However, the scene depicted here is from the 1977 original. Star Wars film, later renamed Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope. Here, after landing on the Death Star, Hans Solo makes the iconic one-handed charge at the stormtroopers, followed by his equally iconic fleeing in the opposite direction.
The problem is, this squad is fully armed, and instead of using their high-tech weapons, they’re running after Solo like a group of schoolchildren after a football.
8 Bourne Identity: Shot, Drowned, and Washed Overboard
The Bourne Identity (2002) was directed by Doug Liman and saw Matt Damon take on this genre-defining trilogy. Heralded for its gritty realism, there are still plenty of unlikely escapes along the way, none more so than the opening scene.
Jason Bourne is floating on a storm surge, riddled with bullets and unconscious. He then becomes entangled in a fishing net and is dragged aboard an Italian fishing boat.
The chance of anyone surviving this is about as remote as having a random Italian fishing boat captain who speaks perfect English and happens to be a first class traumatic wound specialist.
7 Raiders of the Lost Ark: Plane Chase Scene
Steven Spielberg and Harrison Ford are a match made in movie heaven. Immortalized in 1981 by what some call the greatest action movie of all time—in search of the lost ark.
As an ’80s kid, I assumed action movies would always be this good. Little did he know how lucky he was. Good fortune is also something moviegoers might chalk up to Professor Jones, with life-threatening scratches coming on plentiful and fast from the first frame.
It’s another one of Harrison Ford’s signature sprints from the enemy ranks that I’ve selected for closer inspection. In the iconic opening scene, we see Jones surviving a series of poison darts, miraculously well-designed ancient booby traps, and Nazi treasure hunters. This is quickly followed by Jones running for his life through the jungle, pursued by a tribe of heavily armed warriors.
Luckily, these fearsome tribesmen went to the stormtroopers’ marksmanship academy! Assuming they relied on their bow skills to survive from the time they could walk, all sense of spatial awareness is now gone.
We see bursts of sharp arrowheads in every direction except toward Indiana Jones. Fortunately for movie fans everywhere, this allows Indy to return to his seaplane and achieve movie immortality.
6 Iron Man: Tony Stark and the Ten Rings
In the first installment of the iconic Marvel Iron Man series in 2008, Tony Stark, played by Robert Downey Jr., begins his change from merchant of death to metal ass-kicker. His transformation begins in an ambush that Tony, lacking his trademark suit, should not have walked away from.
When his convoy of American soldiers is ambushed, everyone is killed except him. For starters, the entire side of his armored vehicle is pierced by shrapnel the size of a golf ball. Then shortly after, a mortar shell explodes at arm’s length.
The writers put a bulletproof vest under his tailored suit as a nod to plausibility, but Tony’s head, arms, and legs should have been jerky by the end of that memorable opening scene.
5 John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum: Fight the Shinobi
At number six is everyone’s favorite floppy fringed dog lover. Considering that Keanu Reeves is actually a good shot and trains to a high level in a ton of martial arts, it’s still hard to see even this young action hero surviving.
Directed by Chad Stahelski, the third installment of the john wick The franchise sees the hero take on two equally highly trained Shinobi assassins… with nothing but his belt.
Fortunately for Mr. Wick, his attackers take half-hearted turns attacking, and when they come in with knives, it looks like they’ll have a hard time cutting a tomato on a plate. Swaying from left to right like a wasp is attacking them.
4 The Dark Knight Rises: Fight with Talia al Ghul and Bane
In the crescendo of Christopher Nolan the dark knight risesthe caped crusader, played by Christian Bale, is stabbed under his bulletproof vest.
The knife is held by Talia Al Ghul, played by Marion Cotillard. Subsequently, the femme fatale becomes the full Dr. Evil, explaining her plan, history, and motives in poetic detail. Meanwhile, an incapacitated Batman can’t do much, but he hopes the story continues long enough for help to arrive.
In the “Supervillain for Dummies” book, they really should spend at least the first chapter on why it’s best to save the monologues until they’ve dispatched the superhero, not before. Sure enough, Batwoman shows up at the perfect time to dispatch Bane and rescue the dark knight.
In the final part of the film, Batman launches the villain’s nuke over the bay with his batwing jet, saving Gotham in the process, but apparently not himself.
No one really explains how the mortally wounded superhero survives that, and many movie fans have been scratching their heads over the logistics. Especially when, in the final scene, we see a sun-kissed Bruce Wayne living in the south of France.
3 Casino Royale: The Parkour Chase 007
Whether in an online chat room or on bar stools, many hours have been spent debating the question: Who is the best James Bond? A good contender for that accolade is Daniel Craig, who in 2006 began his fifteen-year career as 007 with the fan-favorite epic. Royal Casino.
No list of unlikely escapes would be complete without Her Majesty’s secret agent, and a top ten could easily be made with nothing more than Bond’s close calls. My contender is also one of my favorite scenes, the famous parkour chase in Royal Casino.
Set in Madagascar, the film finds Bond chasing a spirited bomb-maker, played by Sebastien Foucan, through a multitude of parkour-friendly obstacles.
The problem with this scene is that the bombmaker has a gun on him the whole time and only pulls it out once Bond is safely behind the wheel of a bulldozer. Inexplicably, he reholsters the gun until he’s two hundred feet up on a construction crane.
Conveniently, the pistol runs out of ammunition when it finally fires point blank. Despite this, a few seconds later, Bond is found hanging by the nails. The bombardier misses the opportunity to seize the advantage and instead runs off in the opposite direction. This leaves one secret agent very lucky to start his own career as one of the best incarnations of Bond.
2 The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey: Bilbo Baggins and the Trolls
Peter Jackson’s Middle-earth is a spectacular franchise. Whether the original Lord of the Rings either The Hobbit prequels, Jackson’s narration largely does justice to Tolkien’s masterpieces.
However, when it comes to The Hobbit movies, all of them force us to unplug the verisimilitude machine. Countless times the characters come out unscathed when they should have become hors d’oeuvres orcs.
In the first of the prequels, we see Frodo trying to get some food out of a troll’s pocket. Baggins is discovered and thrown away like a rag doll. His dwarven friends come to his aid, only to be recaptured and held by their arms and legs in the air until their accomplices drop their weapons.
Remarkably, Bilbo survives this and walks away without a broken bone, protected by the ever-invincible armor of the plot.
1 Commando: John Matrix and his epic one-handed rampage
It’s 1985, and Arnold Schwarzenegger is at the height of his prime as an action hero. In Mark L. Lester CommandArnie puts all the action movie clichés on steroids.
With plausibility carefully left at the gym’s doorstep, we see hero John the Matrix finally track his daughter to the bad guys’ secret jungle camp. Armed to the teeth, he sets out to rescue her single-handedly with explosive style. Arnie, outnumbered a hundred to one, needn’t worry: these bad guys are more interested in charging in lines or backflips off buildings when Arnie looks his way.
For his part, our hero doesn’t care much about taking cover, preferring the “run into open areas of grass before returning fire” approach. Schwarzenegger empties one magazine clip after another, but he takes down all the thugs single-handedly, using machine guns, anti-tank shells, and grenades.
Even a full squad of special forces would have fought to win this battle, but Schwarzenegger pulls it off and finds his daughter just in time while still smoking his Cuban cigar.
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