Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Count your bullets

There are two kinds of guns in movies. The first kind have a finite number of bullets. Usually six. Sometimes more, but still finite. The second kind of guns have infinite bullets. They go on forever. Superguns, let's call them.

In India, everyone born after 1975 knows that revolvers have 6 bullets. This fact comes up in one of the most famous Hindi film dialogues ever. But then the 80s came. This was a time when directors had to choose one of the two: hero carries infinite guns, or hero's gun carries infinite bullets. Most chose the second. Some chose the first. Some chose both. So, every once in a while you will find yourself watching a Mithun Chakravorty or Jeetendra go about spewing bullets into the scenery faster than you munch on the popcorn. So much so that the Indian cinema ran out of bullets and there were practically no bullets in movies in all of the 90s. All the mushy lovers who had gone into hiding came out in this time of peace.

Occasionally, though, some movie would come out where they remind you that bullets and guns obey the simple laws of physics: specifically, a bullet takes volume and a gun has finite amounts of it. Russian roulette is usually a good way to bring this fact up. Like they did in Dhoom 2, the recent mindless junk -- the scene Ranjit refered to in the comments to the previous post.

Usually, the fact that there are limited bullets makes for some interesting climaxes. Do you remember Neo battling it out with Mr. Smith at the Subway station? They go flying at each other, bullets zooming past, till they are on the ground guns at each other's heads. "You're empty." "So are you." Finite space even when their minds, supposedly, control the world around them.

Die Hard is another case in point. This movie remains to day the best action movie ever. Nothing beats it. The hero runs out of just about everything and still comes out tops. The climax involves a gun with just one bullet for the bad guy, one bad guy and some tape.

Talking about guns that need refills, when I think of Pierce Brosnan in Bond movies, somehow I only remember him refilling guns, hardly ever shooting. The other Bonds seem to do the shooting, and he was left to refill the magazines.

One has to admit, working with the laws of Physics makes more interesting movies. What's the fun in watching a hero with superguns just mow everyone in their wake. Unless. Unless the hero you're watching happens to the whacky Steve Zissou, played by the always wonderful Bill Murray, in a movie that almost seems to match the whackiness of Michael Gondry's.

Do you know more scenes with superguns that are worth watching? Or the other way round -- guns that run out of bullets? Do tell.

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