I’m at the Budvar Bar Near Home right now. There aren’t many people here, and the plasma TV is showing an American thriller movie. Tom Clancy was mentioned in the opening credits, and it seems that Ben Affleck is the star.
It could be that Mr. Clancy bludgeons himself whenever he’s reminded of this flick. I hope so. I’ve read several books by him that I’ve enjoyed greatly. But what is happening before my eyes on the television is patently ridiculous.
A pilot is patrolling the desert wastes. He is distracted when the photo of his wife and child comes untaped from his jet fighter dashboard. While trying to recover the photo he lets his guard down and runs into a hostile missile. Words fail me. The photo on the dashboard immediately classified the guy as Dead Meat. But then I am asked to believe that a guy carrying an atomic fuckin’ bomb would be distracted that way. Or even that he would be flying without an escort.
Then I’m asked to believe that those who lost the bomb shrugged and said, “oh, well, we can make another.” Twenty-nine years later, the bomb is recovered by Bad Guys. “It’s warm!” one of the scavengers declares. I am being asked to believe (I think) that the Israelis lost an atomic bomb and didn’t try to get it back. Yeeeeaaaah, riiiight. Tom! Mr. Clancy! That wasn’t your idea, was it? I can still respect you, can’t I?
OK, and as I watch we have the silliest of all action movie conceits. The standoff where each guy is pointing a gun at the other. Only in Hollywood would someone hesitate to pull the trigger. *ahem quentin* Seriously. A standoff occurs when the person who moves first loses. Guns pointed at each other is not a standoff situation – the first to move wins. If I have a gun pointed at someone’s head, and they have a gun pointed at mine, and we’re not old chums from back in the day, I’m pulling the trigger.
It could be that there was dialog to go along with this patently ridiculous standoff to make it make sense. If I was the guard with bad teeth, things would not have got to that point. Here’s the test I give myself as a writer, for every character in every story. Would I have done that? Given that character X has limited information and even less time to make a decision, would any non-stupid human being act the way the author asked this guy to behave? You can’t base a plot on the actions of stupid people.
Nor can you depend on bad driving, but as the movie progresses they have done that too. You can’t make a really stupid driving error a plot point. OK, you can, but you shouldn’t. The car that won’t start should be reserved for crappy horror movies. Please, Mr. Clancy, tell me you’re better than this. I hunger for the reassurance that you were not responsible for what I have been watching.
Although, honestly, I know you’ve already sold out. You flog your name shamelessly, unconcerned with quality. There’s the whole series of crappy airport novels with your name on them that you can’t feel good about. But there they are. You’ve earned your laurels. Just… don’t insult me like this.
Hopefully, when I sell out, I will do it more gracefully.