Two movie characters are in the middle of a conversation. One steps into the street, says something unintentionally ironic or prophetic, and gets flattened, out of nowhere, by a bus (or car, or police buggy). It is, without question, one of the dumbest and most obnoxious clichés to emerge from the last twenty years of film and television — nothing but a cheap shock tactic deployed by desperate directors and writers. And in the supercut below from Pajiba, editor Harry Hanrahan pretty much destroys it like a person caught in the path of a speeding automobile.
It’s astounding how no one in modern movies ever hears a multi-ton vehicle barreling towards them at forty miles an hour, or how these vehicles never brake or swerve before they plow into these people. That’s what bugs me about these moments — not that they happen, but that these supposedly surprising moments are, in fact, completely predictable. Are two characters having a heated discussion near a city street? Did one of them walk into traffic without looking? Did the soundtrack get weirdly quiet so it can jolt you out of your seat? THEN SOMEONE IS GOING TO GET HIT BY A BUS.
Hanrahan’s next assignment (because I like to assign things to people who don’t work for me): a supercut of the out-of-nowhere bus crash’s dark doppelganger, the We-Just-Got-Hit-By-Something car crash, where someone driving a car is suddenly sideswiped by another car (or bus, or police buggy) they never see coming. Here’s an example from “Adaptation.” That one drives me crazy too.