Every year a new crop of actions movies hits theaters around the country and we are all inundated with unbelievable levels of epic badassery from hero-hopefuls intent on joining the ranks of Ethan Hunt, John McClane, and Jason Bourne.
I usually love these movies but recently they’ve been giving me pause to think. I’ve realized that there are so many badass things that I will never be able to do. I will never be as cool as any action hero.
I’m honestly struggling to be as cool as Frodo Baggins. I’ve never taken a hike that was that long.
1. Kick somebody’s ass in a fight
This is pretty much rule #1 for being a badass. At any given moment, you need to be able to beat the shit out of either a large group of visually intimidating but martially inferior henchmen or a single boss-type villain. Every action movie hero has at least one fight like this on any given day.
These fights aren’t just the slugfests of 80s flicks, either. In order to be a true and consummate badass nowadays you need to be able to kick somebody’s ass with at least a book and Jason Bourne did that like four years ago. That’s the basic requirement. For fuck’s sake, in the trailer for this movie, the hero kicks somebody’s ass while he’s tied to a chair!
I haven’t even gotten into a fight since I was in the third grade and that ended with a kid in second grade kicking me in the balls. I haven’t won a fight since ever.
1a. Have an awesome sword fight
This definitely deserves its own sub-category as, more often than not, an action movie fight will progress past the My-Fists-Versus-Your-Fists stage. Kung-fu and karate don’t even scratch the surface of the modern day action hero’s ass-kicking skill set. Most action heroes are also insanely dominant with some kind of archaic weapon. This is so par-for-the-course that now any little girl can kill people with a variety of ninja weapons a la Hit Girl.
I definitely don’t even come close to competing with this level of combat. I have trouble cutting my meat sometimes. I will definitely not be pulling an Achilles any time soon, unless it involves tearing the tendon.
2. Be in an awesome car chase
Another defining feature of your typical hero is that he is able to get behind the wheel of anything and drive/escape any number of pursuers. This isn’t just limited to secret agents like Bryan Mills from Taken or James Bond in Quantum of Solace, but also to high school kids in Tokyo Drift. Honestly? I couldn’t even parallel-park when I first got my license, much less drift through time trials in mountain roads as a relaxation technique.
The typical hero’s driving skill set is not always limited to cars. In Ong Bak, Ting is a peasant boy who’s never left his idyllic rural village where climbing up trees while covered in white talcum powder is the number one pastime. This complete lack of experience doesn’t prevent Ting from being able drive a moped like a stuntman in the middle of Bangokok, though.
The closest thing to getting a car chase I’ve ever done is use the EZ Pass lane with an expired EZ Pass.
There is a chance that you may not know what Parkour is; in which case, you probably don’t have electricity or running water where you live and are unlikely to be reading this right now any way. But just in case, Parkour, more colloquially known as free running, is the art of getting from Point A to Point B as quickly and efficiently as possible. This usually ends up becoming getting from Point A to Point B as awesomely as possible, as shown here.
Ever since Parkour was popularized by the foot-chase scene in Casino Royale, I’ve been aware of exactly how physically inept I am. There are no shortages of videos on Youtube highlighting just how awesome Parkour is and how easy it is to do anywhere. I won’t lie: I’ve considered training in Parkour. However, every time I think about training I remind myself that I once sprained my ankle by simply jumping up and down. If I were to ever try to slip the surly bonds of walking around like a normal person, I’d probably end up looking a lot like this only without the cool head-banging music in the background.
4. Hack into anything
This is not a skill that is always reserved for the nerdy hacker played by Seth Green or Kevin Smith. In fact, Stanley Jobson out of Swordfish proves that there are some pretty badass hackers out there to be admired. Some of them are so good that they get recruited into human resistance movements pitted in an existential war against our machine overlords.
These are the heroes who, with a few ridiculously fast keystrokes, can lock dinosaurs out of the control room, change the color of traffic lights, or create a digital world that they then find themselves imprisoned in. They can do anything because computers rule everything in today’s world.
I, on the other hand, can barely type without hunting and pecking. I’ve struggled sending mass recipient text messages and I still haven’t figured out why Google+ is worth my time. Nobody will ever pay me to operate a computer. In fact, the opposite is much more likely.
5. Interrogate someone
We’ve seen the same play out over and over again. They’ve caught the criminal mastermind and now it’s up to tried and true good-cop-bad-cop routine to crack him and get him to confess or to get sucked into his nefarious plan to separate you from your sanity (only applies in case of Joker).
In the end, the super-masculine cop always threatens or outsmarts the bad guy and gets the confession or the information needed to save the day.
For example, take this classic scene from L.A. Confidential in which Ed Exley is in the midst of mind-fucking two perps when Bud White stops being able restrain himself and barges in to the interrogation room to out-badass Ed with a revolver and an impromptu round of Russian Roulette.
I could never do any of that. I sweat when I lie and have an unfortunate tendency of saying ‘uhh’ and ‘like’ way too much when I’m nervous, which I’d certainly be if I was in the middle of trying to unravel somebody’s mental fortitude. I don’t think I’d be able to get inside anybody’s head with the garbled word salad that would be guaranteed to come out of my mouth in a situation like that.
I’m not going to even bother relating how I’d go about doing what Bud did. I’d probably just break my hand by squeezing too hard on that chair.
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