Whether it’s due to missed opportunities, bad choices, or unfortunate missteps, audiences are familiar with sequences that fail to live up to their potential. Memorable characters receive mishandled deaths, conflicts that are built up over several films don’t reach the climax fans expected, and sequences that could have been awesome just… aren’t. Sometimes, directors try too hard to achieve levels of awesomeness and end up overdoing it, and other times, they take the lazy way out. Whatever the reasons may be, terrible sequences are bound to happen, and each year audiences look back at what could have been.
This article will examine ten terrible sequences that should have been awesome. This is in no way a conclusive list of bad scenes, but instead examines 10 sequences from recent films that I feel are worth looking at in more detail.
Note: This article will contain minor to major spoilers for the films included within. Proceed at your own risk!
10. Taking Fingerprints from a Shattered Bullet – The Dark Knight
Even great films have bad moments. And in the near-perfect film that is The Dark Knight, there exists a sequence that is both confusing and stupefying: the moment when Bruce Wayne takes fingerprints off of a shattered bullet.
After finding two dead bodies in an apartment left to him by the Joker, Batman cuts out a section of brick containing stray bullets left at the scene. Jim Gordon asks if he’s taking ballistics from a shattered bullet, to which Bats replies: “No. Fingerprints.”
The Scene: Next, we see Bruce back at the Bat bunker, setting up an experiment using an automated Gatling gun and four blocks of masonry. The gun fires a bullet into each, Bruce finds the block that closest resembles the block from the crime scene, and scans it with some fancy laser. He takes it to Lucius Fox, who digitally reconstructs the shattered bullet, using Bruce’s new sample as a guide. This gives them the thumbprint left by the shooter as he loaded the bullets into his clip.
Why It’s Terrible: It took me a while to type up that last paragraph, because the scene plays quickly, explains nothing, and then carries on. A few questions are raised by that sequence: Did Bruce have this thing just lying around in case he needed to do something like this? How does he accomplish all of this in one night? And what the hell just happened!? In an effort to show Batman’s incredible detective skills, Christopher Nolan added a scene that just feels ridiculous. Couldn’t they have found a simpler, more comprehensible way of showing Batman finding fingerprints?
If you want to leave the scene in there, fine. But just add one thing: Alfred needs to ask Bruce what he’s doing. That way, Bruce can explain it not only to his butler, but to the audience as well. A little exposition goes a long way, and could give us a glimpse into the brilliant mind of the Batman. The scene is cool, it’s just hard to follow.
Note: Badass Digest has a great article breaking down the science of this scene, which I highly recommend checking out here.
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