Tuesday, July 7, 2020

Shootout at the Villain's House: Can You Spot the Fiction amid the Fiction?

We've read the scene where the good guys roll up on the villain's dilapidated victorian house in the hard of night. The tires of their rental car crunching over the gravel drive. They cut their headlights on approach. The car idles with a soft purr. A barn owl hoots in the distance. Hero's heartbeat thunders in his ears as he reaches for his gun, eyeing the cracked house windows. His buddy cocks his gun and puts a hand on the interior door handle.

A cat yowls. 

Gunfire from the house. Car windows shatter, spraying glass everywhere. The front door is thrown wide. The villain steps into the moonlight, aiming a shoulder-fired rocket launcher at the good guys. A flurry of fucks and the driver hits the gas. Tires squeal as the car fishtails. Pedal to the floor, the car zigs and zags, neatly avoiding projectiles. The passenger fires at the house, taking out two of the shooters in the second story. The rocket hits a tree and explodes. The driver turns and fires his gun out the broken rear window, through the smoke and haze, nailing the villain in the chest.  A hard right on the wheel and the car side-slides on to the county road.

The good guys look at each other wide-eyed. Grins bloom.  Catch-phrase is uttered. Off they go into the moonlight as an inferno engulfs the house of hatred.

Sound familiar? Come across some variation of this in a dozen or so books? Hundred-odd times on TV? There are a few things in that scene that play really, really well in fiction but that don't happen in real life (unless there's a special-effects crew involved).

I'll give you three examples, but there's a slew of others. Can you spot them?

1. You can't cut the headlights on a common rental car. Daytime Running Lamps (DRLs) became standard in the 90s, and the average rental car is kept for 13 months. 
2. Tires don't squeal on gravel. Laws of physics and friction apply. 
3.  The marksmanship of the passenger.