No Time to Kill (or Get Serious Injuries)Published on: 11 October 2021
When watching the new Bond film, I found myself wondering whether, as a society, we have any understanding of how vulnerable the human body is. Hollywood certainly doesn’t understand how little force is needed to break a bone. And yes, in case you are wondering, this is a principal reason why I am not a fun person to watch action films with. I will often turn to my fellow audience member after an exhilarating action scene and point out, ‘by the way despite the film pretending the protagonist is fine, they actually have a serious spinal injury and probably a head injury too’. One of my pet peeves is when films treat a knock-out punch as an off-switch, which results in the victim waking up in the next scene with no ill effects, when actually a loss of consciousness following head trauma is indicative of a traumatic brain injury.
Generally speaking humans struggle to accurately assess risks and can underestimate how dangerous common place or everyday activities are. For instance, more people suffer anxiety about flying than driving despite your statistical chance of being in an accident being much higher when travelling in a motor vehicle. I do wonder whether the portrayal of Bond (or other action stars) shrugging off bullet wounds, falling 30 feet plus, or their car flipping over and smashing into walls, adds to how poor our perception is of risk. Do we feel on a subconscious level that if we fell off that ladder, we wouldn’t be too badly hurt? Or in the words of Captain America, that if we died, we would be able to ‘walk it off’.
There is also often a lack of portrayal in most action-heavy films of how traumatising these events would be. Most people who are a victim in an accident or witness an accident are not able to respond with funny quips or puns, but instead find these difficult experiences which take time, and often therapy, to process. Even when films do hint that a character is suffering from PTSD, this is normally disregarded within 20 minutes or so.
Personally I would be keen for films to more realistically portray the consequences of an action scene. I think it would much more exciting to watch a chase scene where if the car crashed into another car, the protagonist would actually be injured rather than just suffering the obligatory limp which is forgotten by the time they cut to the next scene. It would at least save my audience members from me continually pointing out, ‘yeah they just died’.