Has anyone ever commented on the absolute Hollywood mandate regarding cliffhanger scenes in action films? The mandate basically states that (a) whatever tight situation the hero may be in, he/she will never get out of it until the last fraction of a second; and (b) the cutting of this sequence will never give the slightest indication that any escape, remedy or solution is possible. Until it happens out of the blue, of course.

Insert shot of timer just after an atomic device has been defused in Goldfinger.

This mandate is absolutely stifling in terms of excitement and suspense because we always know it will be enforced in each and every thriller or actioner. Tight situations will never be defused with five or seven or twelve seconds to go. The result, obviously, is that the resolution of cliffhangers have become 100% predictable. And nobody ever complains about this. Except me right now.

Think of Sean Connery trying to defuse that atomic device inside Fort Knox in the final minutes of Goldlfinger. By the terms of today’s cliffhanger mandate it was almost revolutionary in that the bomb was disarmed with seven seconds to go before explosion. This would never happen today.