I’m a fairly robust and energetic type, but recovering from surgery over the past three weeks has reminded me that you can’t shrug off biological vulnerability. We’re not made of hard plastic, steel and titanium, and it hurts when a scalpel slices into your skin and digs into your muscles, tendons, fatty tissue and bones. It takes weeks to really feel like yourself again, and you can get easily accustomed to popping pain pills — trust me.
And I went through one of the least traumatic surgeries imaginable — a skin-removal (and then skin graft) operation by first-rate professionals. I’m imagining how it would have felt if I’d been seriously clubbed or shot or stabbed, and then have to recover without decent medical care. Or if I’d been Ethan Hunt in last summer’s Mission: Impossible: Fallout, tear-assing around Paris on a BMW motorcycle and slammed by a speeding car. Or if I’d suffered any of the other ridiculous body traumas that action heroes endure as a matter of routine these days.
Nothing hurts, nobody gets wounded, nobody limps around…every punch or bullet wound or head blow is taped up and shrugged off. Because action filmmakers aren’t interested in wounds or stitches or vulnerability. Which is one more reason why I hate most action flicks today (apart from the fact that they don’t respect physics in the least) and almost all superhero films. And it wasn’t always this way.
There’s a scene in Mike Hodges‘ Get Carter in which a friend of Michael Caine‘s titular character has been beaten up pretty badly, and is all bandaged and bruised and even moaning from the pain. You’re not likely to see anything like that these days.