You’re 16, at the movies with your friends, and the main character swings around a corner wielding a pistol held waist-high.  He fires a couple of shots with his other hand sticking out awkwardly like he’s balancing on a tightrope, and yet every shot lands either directly in the center of the forehead or straight in the chest.  And of course the victim goes flying back 10 feet.  You don’t know any better, the movie is exciting and your tactical training barely goes beyond, “Don’t they hold pistols with both hands?”

After my time in the Army, I feel like I have a pretty good grasp on tactics and movements a trained soldier or police officer would employ while engaging the enemy.  I realize that there are different ways of doing things across the board, and that realistically people make mistakes in real life too.  Still, it’s refreshing to watch a film where the actors have trained and prepared for their roles.

You know what movies I’m talking about, even if they don’t completely capitalize on realism. (Publicity still courtesy of Lionsgate.)

But at 16, while I may not have noticed training deficiencies, I certainly noticed when the actors were trained–when they flowed into a room with ease and precision.  When they held their weapons with two hands and fired precise, sporadic shots instead of a slew of automatic hip-firing.  How would 16-year-old me know the difference?  I had only even held a gun a handful of times by then.

Poster courtesy of Sony Pictures

Change the channel to a nature show.  Watch a lioness fire every one of her muscles perfectly as she chases and mauls a gazelle; she makes the catch look easy.

How do you know to fear and respect that lioness? When it comes to lions, most of us are just amateurs, we’re not zoologists or lion experts by any means.

But we inherently recognize muscle memory, because if something in the wild possesses that sort of extreme skill in the art of death, then you had better watch yourself.  Your danger bells are going to start ringing, and you know to pay close attention to what happens next, even if you don’t know the ins and outs of what is about to try to kill you.

And that’s what happens when the layperson watches a film and sees trained actors doing what they’ve been training for.  Hollywood has fallen in some areas and risen in others, but in this they have begun to excel.  They are leaps and bounds ahead of the Hollywood tactics of the 70’s, though many films still do have a mountain to climb.

It’s easy to recognize a death machine when you see it. (Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.)

Featured image courtesy of CBS.