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10 Things Action Movies Get Wrong

We know that action movies – like all other fictional works of art – are supposed to be a dramatized version of reality. They’re not meant to be real, as what would be the point of watching a movie that just mimics reality as it is? Action movies get many things wrong, though most of us don’t really think about the inaccuracies because they’re movies. 

It’s a problem, however, when the myths perpetuated by these movies cause problems in real life; like, say, during times of disaster. People still respond to emergency medical situations based on what they saw in a movie once, which is almost certain to be wrong, as action movie writers are hardly qualified to accurately portray emergency medical procedures. 

10. Cars Are Fragile

car crash

If you’ve only seen cars in action movies, you’d think that they’re terribly fragile machines. Cars seem to blow up at the slightest provocation, like collisions with other cars, falling off a cliff, even gunshots to their fully-reinforced-metal exterior, which is how most people assume cars are in real life. 

As it happens, cars are one of the most battle-tested machines you can own. They’ve got to go through multiple strength tests before they can enter the market, and it’s quite difficult to make one blow up even if you tried. In fact, Mythbusters have proven multiple times that it’s damn near impossible to blow up a car, even with serious explosives. 

It’s a great example of movie myths causing problems in real life. When cars do catch fire, most people nearby assume that it’s going to blow up instead of saving the victims. 

9. Gunshots Are A Certain Death Sentence

guns

Most people don’t know anything about how guns or gunshots work, as most people don’t live in active war zones. That doesn’t mean that it shouldn’t be common knowledge, however, as you never know when that information could come in handy. 

Whatever you know about guns likely comes from the movies, and while some movies do make a genuine effort to portray guns realistically and responsibly, most of them don’t. Guns in movies are usually instant killing machines, knocking you off your feet and immediately rendering you dead. As you can guess, gunshots wounds in real life aren’t like that at all. They’re often perfectly treatable, and just require some care to even completely heal in a short time. Just ask a veteran.

8. Miranda Rights

police2

When it comes to police procedures, it seems that action movie writers just don’t have access to proper material for research. Just take Miranda rights – one of the most persistent myths about the police in movies set in the USA. Many people think that cops are required by law to read you your rights before an arrest for it to be valid, which usually goes something like ‘you have a right to remain silent’ and so on. 

Obviously, anyone who has ever been arrested anywhere in the USA would tell you that it’s not true. While they do have to read you your Miranda rights – named after the infamous Miranda v. Arizona case from 1966 – before they start the proceedings, that part usually happens some time during the interrogation. Police officers can arrest you if they suspect you’re doing something wrong without saying anything at all, as they often do.

7. Burn The Wound

fire

In the movies, fixing a serious open wound is usually only a matter of burning and sealing it up in some way, like with red hot iron rods. Movie characters do it as an instinctive reaction, as if it’s obvious that burning an already damaged part of the body isn’t just a good idea, but would also immediately fix you and get you back into the fight.

While cauterization is actually a legitimate technique to apply on wounds to temporarily close them up and prevent blood loss, as surgeons still regularly use it during complex medical procedures, it’s not meant as a DIY first aid method to be used in the case of emergencies. Burning any wound just adds another wound on top of the previous one, causing even more agony for the patient that’s just not required. More importantly, burn wounds can get infected faster than any other type of wound, which can turn into an even bigger problem without prompt medical attention.

6. Pulling A Grenade Pin With Your Teeth

grenade

Grenades are perhaps the most misunderstood weapon in movies after guns, especially in movies dealing with war in some way. If they’re to be believed, grenades are either large, Earth-shattering explosives, or tiny disturbances that may as well be ignored. 

In reality, however, they work more like an area-of-effect weapon meant to temporarily incapacitate anyone in a small radius with pieces of shrapnel. Moreover, it’s also ridiculously difficult – almost impossible – to pull a grenade pin out with your teeth, as movie soldiers often do. While it depends on the model, the pins of most grenades used in modern warfare aren’t really meant to be that easy to pull out, or you’d just end up accidentally blowing yourself up. For an example, you need about 3-5 kilogram of force to remove the pin of an American M67 grenade, which could easily damage your teeth if you tried that.

5. Throwing Knives

Throwing knives make for some impressive scenes in action movies, making you wonder why noone uses it in real combat situations at all. While they look and sound cool as a concept, there’s a reason throwing knives are still not as popular on the battlefield as you’d think – it’s ridiculously difficult to throw knives, especially in high-pressure situations when you need it the most.

In the movies, characters often get out of sticky situations by throwing a knife and perfectly hitting their target, even if it’s next to impossible for even experienced throwers to reliably make that shot during a tense, high-speed fight. 

Moreover, a knife spinning in the air just doesn’t have the velocity or impact necessary to make a serious wound – let alone stab someone. There’s also the whole question of whether it’s a good idea to throw your weapon away at all, just on the off chance that it may hit a crucial artery and stop them in their tracks.

4. Fistfights Are Harmless

punch

You’d often see movie characters get involved in brawls and fistfights like it happens everyday, and they usually end with everyone getting up and going about their day like nothing happened. It’s almost as if getting punched multiple times on your face and other vulnerable parts of your body is not a big deal at all.

If they were real, though, fistfights in movies would end up in many more concussions and cases of long-term brain damage than they do. Most people would probably pass out due to a severe concussion with even one of the many punches you see thrown around in action movies, or even develop long-term chronic disorders.

3. The Landmine Click

landmine

Often in war movies, you’d see a group of soldiers in a hostile area, all alert, when suddenly there’s a click. Everyone hears it and turns around to look at their mate, who seems to have stepped on a landmine. It’s assumed that as long as he keeps his foot on the mine, he’d be safe, because apparently mines are the kind of weapons that don’t kill you if you react fast enough, even giving you as much time as you want to defuse them. 

While it makes for tense wartime scenes, landmines in real life don’t work like that at all. They’re meant to be dangerous weapons deployed in asymmetric, guerrilla warfare to demoralize and incapacitate the enemy. It’s ridiculous to expect them to give you a convenient warning when you step on them, and if one did, it’d probably be considered a huge design flaw. While most landmines are improvised and unpredictable, even the most forgiving ones would give you mere seconds to escape, as they’re inherently designed to detonate as quickly as possible.

2. Amnesia

brain

You’d often see characters in action movies completely lose their memory and turn into different people. Cold-blooded assassins go through one car accident and transform into redeemable characters you can sympathize with. In reality, though, is that depiction of amnesia in the movies accurate compared to real life cases?

If you ask the experts in the field, the answer seems to be a clear and huge ‘no’. Simply speaking, that’s just not how amnesia works. While it’s common for people who go through accidents to forget a few things, the effects are usually temporary. 

The kind of permanent, personality-transforming amnesia we see in the movies can only be caused by underlying neurological factors. Even then, it doesn’t make you forget who you are or rewire your entire being like they often show in the movies. 

1. Silencers

silencer

The dreaded silencer is one of the most effective killing machines in spy movies, though it’s hardly limited to one genre. It’s used in a variety of movies, as well as on a variety of guns; you’d even find huge silencers for high caliber, military-grade sniper rifles in war movies that completely suppress the sound of the shot. It’s a convenient weapon that completely nullifies a major problem with using guns in public areas – the sound. 

Obviously, silencers don’t work like that. In fact, silencers for guns don’t even exist, as it’s impossible to silence the sound of a gunshot. They’re called suppressors and are used to reduce the sound level of the shot, which is still high enough to damage your ears without proper protective gear.

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