AKA The People In the TV Won't Listen To Me, take two.
I have an issue with the protagonists in the massive majority of movies. They suffer from a terminal lack of ruthlessness.
The problem with this is that at a certain point I Just can't bring myself to root for the protagonist anymore. How am I supposed to care about someone who obviously has no survival instincts? I mean seriously... I get to a point where I just want them to hurry up and die because even if they survive the movie they're bound to die in a mugging someday because they have "victim" printed across their forehead in bright red bold capital letters.
Ever see Jeepers Creepers? Yeah, it's a stupid movie. Really stupid. But you know what? I watched it and cheered at several points because in violation of every convention of the genre and hollywood in general the protagonists had brains. When the evil murdering bastard was advancing on their car in the cliched "The car won't start" scene, and the car finally started, I cheered when the heroine charged the freak instead of trying to drive away. And after they ran him over and the other guy asks the cliched "Is he dead?" she did what I would have done and backed over him again! I was cheering!
Contrast this with the last movie I saw. 8mm. I'll put this part in a spoiler tag for the improbable possibility that someone who actually intends to see an zillion year old movie hasn't yet done so.
So the story revolves around a private investigator hired by a rich old lady to tell her whether or not a snuff film in her late husband's collection of bondage flicks is authentic or not. So he finally tracks down the people who did the film, finds it's authentic, and predictably falls into their trap. Long story short, he ends up with the evil masked killer, gut stabbed, at his feet, the procurer of the victim across the room from him, and a gun with a single bullet in his hand, while being handcuffed to a large heavy object.
Now his completely illogical decision is to shoot the handcuffs, allowing the procurer to obtain the handgun that was on the floor while the protagonist flees. The obvious solution would have been to gun down the man across the room, pick up the knife on the table and use it to finish the gut stabbed and no longer threatening punk on the floor. End of problem. But no.
And of course, when he gets to his car, with the guy with the gun following close on his heels, instead of doing the thing which is statistically less likely to get you killed and charging the guy, he drives away.
Now, driving away from a gunman gives him a really great opportunity to hit you. Especially driving in a straight line away from him as the protagonist was doing. Driving towards him from the relatively close range they were at forces him to either leap aside or be struck, and makes it much more difficult for him to actually hit you. And if you're lucky you can run him down and the problem is solved.
And then, he calls the old lady and tells her what he's found out, because the bad guys have destroyed the film, his only evidence (Which of course he hasn't made a copy of... Exactly how much stupidity are we supposed to credit anyway?) and he needs her to testify about it if he's going to put these guys in jail (Which he wouldn't need to worry about if he'd just killed them...). Of course the old lady just kills herself... What did he expect, has he never watched a movie before? And really, even with the old lady's testimony they would have had nothing.
So he decides he's going to kill these guys because there's no way he can get them in jail. He finds the procurer and takes him out to where they killed the girl and ties him up and tells him he's going to kill him. Of course he's going to do it with his gun, which the procurer correctly points out will get him the chair rather quickly. So he goes outside and goes through this absurd conflict of conscience sequence before going back in and killing the guy with a blow to the head with the grip of his pistol.
Now, first of all... This is almost as bad as shooting the guy, I mean, The grip is going to leave a fracture in his skull which could be matched to the gun later. Killing someone with an item you own and is on public record as belonging to you is hardly smart. Plus, he knows he's going to have to burn the place down to eliminate existing evidence, so why bother to kill the guy first?
A person who kills for purposes of revenge doesn't generally pick a quick method of death. Granted a physical blow is a catharsis of anger... However It's a relatively fast and painless method of killing. It's hard to credit that a person who is supposedly driven by a lust for vengeance wouldn't think to burn the guy alive.
Then he goes to kill the masked killer. He tracks the guy down, discovers where he lives... and then goes into the guy's house after dark.
It's getting stupendously difficult to believe in this guy as a hard nosed experienced private eye here. I mean, he knows where the guy lives, he has all the time in the world to stalk him and discover the weaknesses in his routine, the times he could easily snatch him and kill him at leisure, but no, he goes into this guy's home turf, in the dark, by himself. This is stupidity without question.
The whole issue of painless death comes up again because it's clear he intends to simply shoot the guy, which hardly seems like fitting retribution for torturing a girl to death with a knife.
And of course the big "surprise" is that the masked killer is just a regular joe. Our minds are supposed to be blown by the idea that regular people are killers.
The sad thing is that this seems to be typical of hollywood crap. Is the typical american truly so heavily socialized that this is a believable "hero" to him? I just don't understand.
A big reason I always loved Firefly and loved Serenity was the fact that the main characters had the balls to do what had to be done. I wish more movies would feature characters with some backbone, ruthlessness, and survival instincts.
I dunno, are characters with some realistic predator survival instincts really that distasteful to most people?