Yeah, it’s still dumb.

Remember my complaint in my Get Smart review about the mind-bogglingly unpossible (as Ralph Wiggum would say) parachuting scene? Check out this exchange from Roger Ebert’s current Answer Man column:

Q. You know the action sequence involving the freefall without a parachute where one person catches up to another? The first time I saw it was in “Moonraker,” and many times since, including “Point Break,” “Shoot ’em Up” and “Crank.” But is it accurate that when freefalling, you can change the velocity to which you are approaching the earth that dramatically, that by closing your arms and legs together, you could catch up to someone flailing their arms and legs?
Tor Ramsey, Shelby, N.C.

A. For an answer, I turned to computer columnist Andy Ihnatko of Boston, who somehow always knows about stuff like this. He replies:

“Yes, it is absolutely true. The short answer is to think about how fast a skydiver falls before and after the chute deploys. Same man, same parachute; after he pulls the ripcord, he’s exposing more surface area to the onrushing air. Simple. Or you can take a look at a YouTube video, which you can find by searching for ‘indoor skydive.’ It shows a static skydive attraction where a huge turbofan in the floor blows upward at the same force as you’d encounter after jumping from a plane. The person in ‘freefall’ position perpendicular to the oncoming air is hovering four feet above the floor. The person who’s presenting the lowest profile can stand in place like nothing unusual is going on.” ”

Okay, I’ll admit that what this guy says probably makes sense in a random testing situation. And I’m glad someone else is bothered enough by these sorts of scenes to write in about it. But no amount of surface area blah blah blah reasoning can serve as explanation for something like 99’s rescue of Max. Let’s not forget that even if she could propel herself to the ground that much faster than him, in the 60 seconds or so it takes her to get her chute on and jump the plane would have traveled about eight miles past where Max fell out. There’s no defense for it, people. It’s lazy writing. You want to write an action sequence that involves hurtling toward the earth from an obscene distance, come up with something better.
I think the reason this sort of thing bothers me so much, and why I’m subjecting you all to another rant on it, is that I’ve been spoiled by some really great action movies in the past few years that don’t at all break the rules of their world. For example, we’ve got the Bourne movies, where absolutely thrilling action sequences consist largely of guys running around and hitting each other, and on the other side of the spectrum sit the comic book movies like Iron Man, where over-the-top-that-could-never-happen sequences are the entire point and therefore are totally justified. And speaking of Iron Man, I believe that movie does in fact feature a fantastic scene that involves good and bad guy hurtling toward the earth from an obscene distance. How bout that.
Okay, silly rant of the day over now.
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