In this morning’s post about the new Skyfall trailer, I wrote that “the comedic surreal rules that were once used by the Wile E. Coyote vs. Roadunner cartoons have been embraced by the super-action genre.” I was referring to characters falling dozens or hundreds of feet (like Mr. Coyote used to in the cartoons) and somehow not hitting the pavement through this or that escape clause. But there’s one cartoon bit action movies haven’t embraced that I’d really like to see.
I’m speaking of the extended suspended animation rule. That’s the one in which the Coyote will chase the Roadrunner off a very tall mesa or mountaintop, and run right off the edge of a cliff…but without falling. That’s because he doesn’t realize that the cliff has ended and he’s now suspended over a canyon with nothing below him but air. He can’t fall, in short, until he fully accepts that there’s nothing holding him up. He starts to suspect that he might be in trouble. Without looking he reaches around underneath his feet to try and feel ground or rock…nothing. He looks back at the cliff edge and sees he’s not standing on it. Then he looks down and grasps the reality. Then he looks at the camera and goes “oh, no,” pleading with fate or God not to let him fall. And then he’s gone, making a whistling sound as he drops to the desert floor like a bomb. Sometimes the camera would just watch from above and note a very faint impact sound and a small puff of smoke as he hits. And then he’d be fine in the next scene.
I want to see Colin Farell perform this kind of scene in Total Recall. Seriously, why not? Action films haven’t the slightest interest in adhering to the laws of physics so why not just go full cartoon?