12 Times Action Movie Characters Had To Make Impossible Decisions
Life's all about making tough decisions. And any action movie worth its salt is highly aware of that reality. What follows, then, is a compilation of impossible choices in movies presented to the lead characters - particular scenes where a character was compelled to make an agonizingly tough choice.
In some instances, these heroes were able to have their cake and eat it, too, figuratively speaking.
- 1186 VOTESPhoto: Buena Vista Pictures
While aboard the USS Alabama, the ship's new executive officer, Lieutenant Commander Ron Hunter (Denzel Washington), struggles with a series of difficult decisions. The ship is navigating some dicey diplomatic territory while circling a post-USSR Russia embroiled in a civil conflict. Hunter at one point finds himself needing to demote and imprison the guy who hired him, Captain Frank Ramsey (Gene Hackman).
One of the toughest choices Hunter must make arrives when a Russian submarine launches a torpedo into the Alabama, disabling its main propulsion system. To prevent the entire ship from sinking, Hunter must seal off the open deck quickly taking on water, the bilge bay, with sailors still inside. He does what he needs to do to save the most people possible.
- 2256 VOTESPhoto: Warner Bros. Pictures
It's basically the end of Old Yeller (1957) meets the demise of Trooper DeMarco (Scott Reiniger) in Dawn of the Dead (1978), but darn it if this moment from the 2007 adaptation of Richard Matheson's post-apocalyptic horror sci-fi adventure I Am Legend doesn't still get to you every time you watch it.
Virologist Robert Neville (Will Smith) and his beloved German shepherd Samantha number among the very, very few uninfected survivors of a horrific plague that has leveled the planet. The dynamic duo wanders around the eerie ruins of Manhattan by day and occasionally slays vampire-esque people and pooches by night (or in shadowy spaces during the day). Unfortunately, the fun has to come to an end when Sam is bitten by a pack of infected dogs. Before Sam can fully turn, Neville sings her "Three Little Birds" and puts her down. Watch at your own risk, people.
- 3188 VOTESPhoto: Rogue Pictures
As Shaun (Simon Pegg) and his friends and family barricade themselves in their favorite local bar, the Winchester, to ward off a horde of attacking zombies, they struggle with occasional breaches. Unfortunately, during one such instance, Shaun's mother Barbara (Penelope Wilton) is viciously bitten and slain by a zombie.
Knowing Barbara will come back zombified, David (Dylan Moran), the roommate of Shaun's ex-girlfriend Liz (Kate Ashfield), tries to shoot her in the head to prevent such a transformation. Shaun fights back at first, but eventually relegates himself to the reality that Barbara has to go. Of course, he's not going to let David do it.
- 4144 VOTESPhoto: Warner Bros. Pictures
The Joker (Heath Ledger), in a twisted test of Batman's loyalty, gives the Dark Knight his own impossible task: He must choose between his longtime childhood friend/not-so-secret crush, assistant DA Rachel Dawes, and her boyfriend, heroic DA Harvey Dent (Aaron Eckhart).
We all think we know where the loyalties of Batman (Christian Bale) lie - but there's the rub: The Joker has fed him false information, swapping out the locations of the two kidnapped crusading lawyers.
To be fair, Batman and Gotham Police Commissioner Gordon (Gary Oldman) split up, and Batman goes to the location where he has been told Rachel is, leaving Gordon and his team to save Dent. Of course, it's not like Commissioner Gordon is on the poster - we know there is a risk Gordon will not reach his target in time because Gotham's cops are not as efficient as the Dark Knight. Rachel perishes, and while Harvey winds up a bit worse for wear, he ultimately survives.
- 5153 VOTESPhoto: Tri-Star Pictures
After strapping young lad/future savior of humanity John Connor (Edward Furlong in a career-making turn) and his mom Sarah (Linda Hamilton) defeat the seemingly un-killable liquid metal cyborg the T-1000 (Robert Patrick), with a little help from the T-800 (Arnold Schwarzenegger), they face a seemingly impossible choice.
The T-800 has been sent back in time (by John, no less) not just to protect the Connor clan from the clutches of the T-1000, but also to eradicate any evidence of terminators that could lead to their eventual engineering. That includes the exoskeletal arm of the original time-traveling T-800 (also Schwarzenegger) Sarah defeated in the first movie, The Terminator (1984), and the surviving T-800, who has - to this point - served as the optimal father figure for a preteen future leader without a dad. Because he cannot self-terminate, he requests that the Connors lower him into a molten steel container at a local construction site.
- 669 VOTESPhoto: 20th Century Fox
LAPD cops Jack Travern (Keanu Reeves) and Harry Temple (Jeff Daniels) are defusing an elevator bomb. After introducing the concept of shooting a hostage being held by a villain to prevent further bloodshed (in a neat moment of foreshadowing), the tandem quickly finds themselves in that exact scenario when mad bomber Howard Payne (Dennis Hopper) takes Harry hostage, detonator in hand.
Harry compels Jack to follow his own advice and shoot him which, as Jack noted earlier, would "take the hostage out of the equation." Jack obliges him, shooting Harry in the foot to separate him from Payne. Harry survives (for now) and the LAPD gains the upper hand on Payne (for now).