Combat and Hollywood: Part Two

Guns don’t kill people, scriptwriters do…

But only when it suits the narrative. I suppose, to preface a light-hearted post, I should start with an unequivocal statement: The purpose of a gun is to kill. Whether or not it is used to do so, does not matter. A gun, like the atom bomb, is a weapon with a purpose. Said purpose: cessation of life. Let’s not quibble. I had an online discussion with someone (an American) who said guns were deterrents. They’re not. Deterrents, in the classical sense, don’t work. Nukes work. But only because (a) they’re wielded by governments who understand the consequences, and (b) they’re a tad more murderous than a 9mm Glock. And consider this: if a terrorist organisation ever gets its tiny creepy hands on a nuke, the deterrent argument will become moot. Just watch, or don’t. I will win the debate, right before I’m welded to my PVC chair. Enough depression, let’s get on with the fun stuff. But first, a beautiful unicorn to make you feel better…   

If this doesn’t reset your happy trigger, nothing will.

But guns do kill people, you say. I know so because I’ve seen it on TV, or that film with the guy that shoots folks till they’re dead. Well, I reply, go back and watch that show. Now, I freely admit I am not the first person to make an issue out of this, and I won’t be the last. But I want to tackle it with the derision and ridicule it deserves. Though, I need a copyright-free example to do it. Time to create a hero. World, meet Lexi Bamharder; a cop whose attitude is as bad as her taste in men. You know the stereotype. She’s mysteriously attracted to high-strung men on the verge of divorce. They’re always going to leave their wives, they’ve promised. But Lexi always gets stung. It’s driven her to drinking neat bourbon at a bar with no other patrons apart from the old guy, we’ll call him… Old Guy. And it’s a weird set-up. She never pays, Old Guy’s always there, and the bartender has a shotgun and a heart of gold. How the place turns a profit, only methanol Jesus knows.

That Old Guy. Every bar needs one. (The Wedding Singer, 1998, New Line Cinema)

But Lexi knows. It’s run by crooks and the bar guy’s let slip they have his family. Oh noes! Again. Lucky for us, Detective Bamharder knows where to go. She finishes her bourbon (her fifth) and jumps in her car. Normally we could dissect the inherent sexism of what car she drives, however, that’s not important. Lexi’s just downed five bourbons and she’s ignition deep in engine rumble. Someone call a cop. No, wait, she is a frickin’ cop. The hero of the story. What the hell? Hollywood blows, really. Anyway, back on track, unlike Lexi, who’d be sucking dashboard in a ditch in real life.

Lexi evades every cop in a city of ten million people, her erratic driving never having once gotten her pulled over. Did I mention—she’s white? We could change that and the film would end here. That’s another story, one I’m not qualified, or brave enough, to write. But cut to the…erm chase. She’s pulled over at the Casino. The lieutenant of the Mascarpone crime family is inside: Toblerone Sureshot. Yup, he’s deadly with a hand-cannon. His favoured weapon is the Desert Eagle. Just like his name, it’s slightly triangular. He’s also not a moron. His hired guns are notorious. Earlier on you’ve seen them shoot a top lawyer in a drive by. One shot, straight through the temple. At twenty yards. But things are about to change. The scriptwriters haven’t got a clue how to make this work. In a panic they revert to type. Guns no longer kill people, stupidity does…

Her car is now clearly parked in the Casino grounds. Somehow Lexi makes it to an unguarded fire escape. Climbing inside, she pulls out her piece. Definitely not a revolver—that’s a man cannon. Bamharder owns a svelte automatic. It smells of peaches and cream. Probably. Inching down the corridor, she confronts her first two villains. They open fire, just pistols for now. Take note, Lexi’s in a corridor. That’s a geometric space with a field of view as wide as a cow. Not, notably, the proverbial barn door. Bad guys 1 & 2 fire off several rounds each. Fortune smiles on Lexi as the FX guys have already popped exploding caps into enough woodwork to carpet a forest. Besides, she’s skilled in leaning slightly into a closed door. I mean, we can see her, Hollywood insisted she has a large bust. She’s totally visible. But those bullets just don’t work. Lexi’s turn; Bam! Bam! She always ‘bams’ harder.

Doors. Incredibly good at mesmerising bullets. (The Way of the Gun, 2000, Artisan Entertainment)

Next up, the casino floor. No more pistols. SMG’s abound. Possibly some machine pistols. Maybe a rifle or two. There are a dozen guys. All hired because they presumably have experience in killing people. But today’s not their day. As bullets drop like shiny metal rain, Lexi moves from bandit to bandit. For sure, one round will hit the jackpot and you can giggle as the cash pours out. It’s actually a metaphor for Hollywood. Shoot enough crap and one day it’ll make money. To hell with art. On the balcony she’s getting flanked. One goon leans over, stops, gives Lexi enough time to look, puff her glossy (non-alcoholic) hair from her face and squeeze off two rounds. Rather than obey physics and crumple in a heap, where he could have waited for medical assistance, he takes great pains to vault over the railing. A four-foot railing. A six-foot man. How does that work? Even when I’m not being shot by a drunken cop, I know which side of a railing to fall on. Seriously, where’s he going? What’s out of camera view? A pool of morphine? Maybe he saw Willy Wonka’s last golden ticket.

One by one the goons fall. Lexi takes cover behind the machines, an upturned roulette table, a plastic cactus, and a clear window. Nothing hits. Not even a fleck of shrapnel. Now of course, in some films and shows they do take a hit. But is it ever serious? No. They never get popped in the eye, ear, or face, and damned if any major blood vessels get hit. Always somewhere medics call ‘sexy superficial’. Where scars look cool.

It’s nearing the end of the gunfight, Lexi ascends the stairs, her outfit pristine. Now, of note, if this was a fistfight between two women, clothes would be gone. But gunfights have their own rules, and those rules are: they’re more effective than dry-cleaning at keeping denims fresh. Because Lexi still looks hot in those jeans. Me, I’d have wet myself by now. Powering to the final door, she goes in, where Toblerone Sureshot awaits. He could shoot her as she comes in. But Sureshot doesn’t kill like that. Except he does, he’s a cold-blooded executioner that never misses. Oh dear. Today’s going to be a first. Cue obligatory speeches about morality, where we’re forced to side with a drink-driving murderer who didn’t read the Miranda Rights to a single soul. Whatever, we forget why Lexi came here, assume the family is safe in a freezer truck, eating their way through frozen falafel. In that room though, where Lexi faces Toblerone, you know what happens. The outcome was inevitable the minute she downed her bourbon. Inebriated, hard-drinking, tough cops kill. Everyone. Farewell, Sureshot, today your luck ran out, today, you were created by a scriptwriter.

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