We’ve all seen a large number of movies in which the hero or someone else will show up in the nick of time to perform a rescue, or stop a villain, or simply save the day in some other manner. A lot of people simply accept this because it’s expected and it’s also something that tends to make for an intriguing and interesting story. Maybe it’s time to shake that element up a bit though, as has been done more than once over the years but rarely to thunderous applause. It’s fair to think that a lot of people don’t want to see the tragedy roll out or the bad guy win, even if it happens at the end of some movies. But it definitely strikes a more interesting note at times since it leaves the audience wondering what will happen next and if there’s really any hope for those that are being left without any recourse as the credits begin to roll. But the really interesting thing about this is that it would appear that one big reason this is rarely done is that it mirrors real life a little too much.
People enjoy realism in the movies, this is an undisputed fact. They enjoy anything and everything that can entertain them, and being realistic is, at times, one of the more desired aspects of the movies that people can’t get enough of since it keeps things grounded just enough to make them familiar. But there is a certain trope that can ruin this effect, or comfort the viewers depending on how it’s used. The ‘nick of time’ rescue or save or appearance of those that are meant to keep the story from being hopeless tends to be a great way to show the resilience and stubborn nature of the protagonists in the story since it keeps the antagonists from simply sweeping over everyone in their path while robbing every last bit of hope from the audience. But here’s where the nick of time rescue tends to become a bit ridiculous.
When the realism of the movie has to be stretched and even broken in order for the protagonist to suddenly appear, fresh and ready for the fight as it’s been stated in the past, one has to wonder just how the filmmaker thought that this was going to go. It also has to do with those moments when a character just barely escapes from a harrowing and ultimately deadly encounter with an element in the story that should have, by all means, been the end of them. Think of the dog in Independence Day, Boomer, escaping from the wall of fire that was annihilating everything in its path, or perhaps the idea that Thanos’ ship should have ‘rained fire’ sufficiently enough to kill a great number of the combatants on the group before Captain Marvel showed up in Endgame. Those are just two examples of how the ‘nick of time’ rescue works and in some cases, it does help the story from being too depressing or horrific. But there are times when this element of any story tends to stretch things beyond what even fiction can rightfully explain.
It sounds entirely too nitpicky to make such an argument, but it also sounds like something that could help to make a story better by tightening it up at times as well considering that to really push a fun and engaging story one has to make the elements fit in a manner that can help them flow, not just provide plot armor or a feasible excuse such as “this needed to happen because the writer needed it to happen”. That type of thought process could involve pretty much anything and while fiction is meant to be fun and allow the story to take on several different dimensions, if one has the desire to entertain the masses, then they’ll have to compromise every now and then to make certain that the masses have as few chances as possible to poke holes in their carefully crafted work of fiction. It’s bound to happen anyway, especially since Hollywood writers appear to be given a blank check when it comes to what they’ll write and how it will stack up with the rest of the story.
It’s also likely that this will continue since people continue to pay for movies that feature the ‘nick of time’ rescue because it plays into the narrative that many folks want to see when they come to the movies, no matter if it makes sense or not. I did say it was annoying, I didn’t say that it was going to change, since one immutable fact is that people will pay to see a happy ending more often than they’ll pay to see the bad guy win or the tragic moments be the final images that are seen before the credits roll. A lot of folks trade reality for the pleasing fantasy, since real life tends to be a little too mundane and even depressing at times.