Famous bomb defusing scenes are a common trope in action movies. In order to build suspense and up the stakes of a scene, filmmakers will include a countdown to a dreaded explosion, which - if not stopped - will certainly result in unimaginable destruction. Not only do our heroes have to defeat the villain and come out on top, but they also have to do it all before the clock hits zero.
Unfortunately, a ticking clock doesn't always work with the actual pace of the movie. If a timer says five minutes, producers are unlikely to fill every remaining moment with jaw-dropping action. If it says 30 seconds, however, the heroes may need a little more time to defuse the device. So, how do filmmakers find their way around this conundrum? It's simple - they decide to create their own laws of space and time.
Instead of staying true to the timeline they've quite literally created, filmmakers have a tendency to stick to their own schedule, no matter what the countdown might say. Though the simple solution would be to change the timer after they plan out the sequence, that easy fix is less appealing than simply bending time to fit their needs.
If you're ready to see just how much filmmakers like to play with the laws of the universe, look below for ticking time bomb sequences from action movies that defy space and time.
- Photo: Buena Vista Pictures
Who Set It? In Armageddon, a huge asteroid is hurtling toward Earth. If not taken out, the asteroid will annihilate the entire planet. The scientists at NASA devise a plan to save mankind that involves detonating a nuclear device beneath the asteroid's surface that will cause it to split in half, effectively forcing it to miss Earth.
Who's Defusing It? To place the device beneath the surface of the asteroid, NASA sends a team of oil drillers led by Harry Stamper (Bruce Willis) into space to land on the asteroid and complete the mission. When Harry's men land on the rock, they struggle to drill deep enough to set the detonation device. Worried about their progress, the US President demands that it be detonated on the surface. But a surface explosion won't be enough to keep the asteroid from reaching Earth. Harry insists that he can drill 800 feet, but USAF security official Colonel Sharp (William Fichtner), who has the power to stop the timer, is under orders to allow it to detonate on the surface.
How Much Time Do They Have? As Harry confronts Sharp, his associates on the ground activate the timer once again. We see a quick view of the countdown, which reads 1:12.
How Much Time Does It Take? After the initial reading of 1:12, 30 seconds pass before we get an update. Despite the long amount of time, Harry's associate announces that there is one minute left on the timer. Only 15 seconds later, we get another update - now the timer is down to 42 seconds. Twenty seconds pass before the timer is shown again. This time, it's only down 5 seconds with 35 seconds total before detonation. The men on the ship switch into high gear to disarm the device, finally completing their task 46 seconds later. Despite the countdown of 1:12, the whole defusing scene takes one minute and 43 seconds.
Does It Go Boom? No, the drillers on the ship manage to cut the right wire with only over two seconds to spare.15521Is the timing suspect?
- Photo: Warner Bros.
Who Set It? Unknown.
Who's Defusing It? At the start of the film, Martin Riggs (Mel Gibson) and Roger Murtaugh (Danny Glover), two officers with the Los Angeles Police Department's homicide division, respond to reports of a detonation device at the ICSI Building. Instead of waiting for the bomb squad, Murtaugh and Riggs decide to investigate themselves. They find a large device sitting in a car in the parking garage.
How Much Time Do They Have? At the very start of the scene, the countdown reads 10:40.
How Much Time Does It Take? Forty-four seconds pass from the original countdown of 10:40 as Riggs investigates the device. When he opens the door and uncovers the device, the timer reads 9:44. Twenty-eight seconds later, the timer drops 36 seconds to 9:07. Seventeen seconds later, the bomb drops only ten seconds to 8:58. After 36 more seconds, the countdown drops only 28 seconds to 8:30. After 21 more seconds of conversation between Riggs and Murtaugh, Riggs reaches in to cut the wire, but the countdown now reads 8:27, only a three-second difference. The wonky timing continues when Riggs and Murtaugh argue for another 23 seconds, but the countdown reads 8:18. Then, only 16 seconds pass, but the countdown drops nearly a minute and a half to 7:01.
Does It Go Boom? Yes. Riggs' decision to cut the wire actually speeds up the timer, and it blows 11 seconds later.8423Is the timing suspect?
- Photo: Warner Bros. Pictures
Who Set It? In The Dark Knight Rises, Bane (Tom Hardy) - a mysterious extremist - teams up with Wayne Enterprises CEO Miranda Tate (Marion Cotillard). Tate is later revealed as Talia al Ghul, Ra's al Ghul's daughter. To fulfill her father's mission to eliminate Gotham, Tate creates a decaying neutron device that will decimate the city.
Who's Defusing It? The legendary hero Batman (Christian Bale) attempts to defuse the device.
How Much Time Do They Have? When Batman first finds the device, the timer reads 1:57 seconds until detonation.
How Much Time Does It Take? Batman attaches the device to his aerial craft, the Bat, and says his final goodbyes as he prepares to fly away. He flies the device out of the city and far out into the ocean. As interested onlookers watch, he fades into the distance. A full two minutes and 18 seconds after we first see the timer, much longer than a minute and 57 seconds, the screen again flashes to the countdown, which somehow still has 5 seconds to go. It explodes exactly five seconds later, but it's a full 23 seconds after it was originally meant to detonate.
Does It Go Boom? Yes, but the device blows far outside the city, where it can't injure anyone. The people watching assume that Batman sacrificed his life for the greater good.8427Is the timing suspect?
- Photo: United Artists
Who Set It? Auric Goldfinger (Gert Fröbe), an international jeweler who Bond believes is smuggling gold, sets a nuclear device inside Fort Knox that will make all US gold radioactive, forcing countries around the world to buy their gold from him.
Who's Defusing It? James Bond (Sean Connery), Agent 007, is on a mission to stop Goldfinger's plan from finding success.
How Much Time Does He Have? Bond manages to open the case housing the device just as the clock ticks down to 31 seconds.
How Much Time Does It Take? While Bond stares at the device in confusion and touches random things trying to figure out how to turn it off, 44 seconds pass. In addition, the device is actually stopped at 007, which means 24 seconds in the movie translates to 44 seconds in real-time.
Does It Go Boom? No. Just as Bond is about to cut in and pull some random wires, CIA agent Felix Leiter (Cec Linder) steps in and easily turns the device off.5113Is the timing suspect?