When was the last time you were watching an action flick and saw someone jump or fall from a very, very high distance and somehow, improbably, survive thanks to either a genuinely hard landing that somehow doesn’t kill them, or a “soft” landing that supposedly cushions their fall enough to save them? If you're anything like us, you probably said to yourself, "There's absolutely no way they would've made it."
Of course, movie fans are no stranger to miraculous cinematic survivals more broadly, but for now, let's just (ahem) dive into the falls (also the jumps, and in one case the tumble).
Vote for the most and least probable survivals below.
- Photo: Warner Bros.1174 VOTES
When wrongfully imprisoned Dr. Richard Kimble (Harrison Ford) goes on the lam, desperate to prove he did not, in fact, murder his beloved wife Helen Kimble (Sela Ward), he at one point finds himself seemingly cornered by intrepid Deputy US Marshal Sam Gerard (Tommy Lee Jones), overlooking a completely impossible jump from a dam. "I didn't kill my wife!" Kimble screams. "I don't care," Gerard retorts.
It's a great, impassioned exchange that gets to the core of the relationship between these two characters in a matter of a few economic words.
But what happens next... is nuts.
Kimble swan-dives off the dam, from a height that would seal the fate of a mere mortal man. Luckily for him, he's in a movie, so he survives long enough to find the true people responsible for his wife's slaying.
- Photo: Touchstone Pictures2207 VOTES
In the brutal adventure film Apocalypto, hero Jaguar Paw (Rudy Youngblood) finds himself on the run from the hulking Zero Wolf (Raoul Trujillo) and his crew through a forest. Having evaded being used as a sacrifice to appease the gods, Jaguar Paw was intended to become target practice for Zero Wolf and his team before breaking free.
Eventually, Jaguar Paw finds himself in a bit of a The Fugitive-esque quandary: risk capture and death at the hands of Zero Wolf, or take his chances leaping to what would most likely be his demise down a precipitous waterfall drop. He wouldn't be on this list if he stayed on level ground.
Somehow, however improbably, he survives. "My father hunted this forest before me," Jaguar Paw yells at Zero Wolf and his team upon swimming to safety after taking the plunge. "My name is Jaguar Paw! I am a hunter! This is my forest!"
Zero Wolf and (most of) his associates follow suit, taking the plunge and continuing their (doomed) pursuit.
- Photo: Universal Pictures3158 VOTES
Beck And Travis In ‘The Rundown’
In the 2003 Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson-Seann William Scott (remember that guy?) two-hander The Rundown, bounty hunter Beck (Johnson) is enlisted on "one last job" to corral Travis Walker (Seann William Scott), the son of his boss Billy Walker (William Lucking), in Brazil and bring him back stateside. Given that this is an action flick, complications invariably arise.
One of the big issues: Travis has discovered a priceless gold relic, "O Gato do Diablo," and wants to stick around town long enough to recover it. During the scene in question here, Travis forces the duo off the road and out of Beck's rented Jeep.
Travis has tried negotiating his way out of being returned to the US, begging Beck to cut him loose by trying to appeal to his bank account. "You're being unreasonable!" Travis squeaks after Beck demurs on receiving eight times the amount Billy is paying Beck. "I hope you enjoy the fall," Travis retorts, then grabs the wheel and forces the team over a mountain ledge. The duo descends for a protracted tumble down the mountain during this memorably absurd sequence.
- Photo: Universal Pictures4157 VOTES
As Fast & Furious 6 concludes, DVD thief-turned-international super-spy Dominic Toretto (Vin Diesel) does battle with his latest adversary, the malicious Owen Shaw (Luke Evans), who will of course become an ally within two movies.
Owen and his crew, which includes Dom's amnesiac wife Letty (Michelle Rodriguez), has been putting together elements to make a dangerous terrorist utensil. At the end of the film, Dom and his team are pursuing Owen and his crew aboard a departing Antonov An-124 plane on a runaway that apparently stretches for 20 miles, striving to secure a crucial computer chip. Dom and Owen fight in an unsecured vehicle rolling toward the plane's open gate. Dom unsurprisingly bests him and Owen is thrown through the car's front window to his apparent demise.
In the next movie, it is revealed that Owen Shaw was merely severely injured, when his brother Deckard (Jason Statham) goes on the war path to avenge him, seemingly killing team member Han (Sung Kang). By Fate of the Furious, the eighth installment, both Shaws and their mom (Helen Mirren) have somehow become trusted world-saving colleagues. Deckard and Owen's younger sister (Vanessa Kirby) joins the fun in the spinoff. And, of course, we discover that Han also is not dead in Fast 9.
- Photo: 20th Century Fox
Star Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menace may be many things, but one thing it isn't? Subtle. And yet apparently, when cool-looking Sith Lord Darth Maul (Ray Park) battled intrepid Jedi Knights Qui-Gon Jinn (Liam Neeson) and Obi-Wan Kenobi (Ewan MacGregor), was subsequently sliced in half by the latter after killing the former, and then plummeted to his supposed demise down what looks to be several miles of tunneling in a Coruscant confrontation, subtlety must have been employed. Because that sure as heck seemed like a death, didn't it? And it's not like audiences heard from Darth Maul again in the two sequels after Phantom Menace.
The character was resurrected in subsequent Star Wars stuff, first popping up in the 2008 animated Cartoon Network show Star Wars: The Clone Wars, where it was revealed that he somehow survived the fall and his torso had been outfitted with spider-like mechanical legs. Post-fall, Maul showed up again on a Disney XD show called Star Wars: Rebels. The general population had little awareness of this, however - until Darth Maul returned for a cameo in another Star Wars prequel, Solo: A Star Wars Story, directed by Lucas's American Graffiti star Ron Howard.
At this particular reveal, audience members reportedly gasped, deeply confused as to why this deceased character was a cyborg spider now. Maul's resurrection was seemingly a retroactive decision by the powers that be, eager to placate a fan favorite. Because if he actually had survived, you'd think Lucas would, you know, want to use one of the few things that worked in Phantom Menace again in its follow-up movies.
- Photo: Walt Disney Pictures
Intrepid pirate Jack Sparrow (Johnny Depp) frequently gets himself into a variety of death-defying scrapes. At one point, he even crosses over to the great beyond, albeit temporarily.
One of his most memorable pickles happens in the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise's second installment, Dead Man's Chest.
Jack is trapped on a remote island, where he has been abducted by cannibals and is about to be cooked like a kabob. On an extended bamboo pole loaded with melons, Jack manages to escape the cannibals' grasp. He hops from cliff's edge to cliff's edge, but soon is weighed down by the melons on the bottom of the pole, eventually falling between the two cliffs and plummeting down several stories' worth of real estate.
He definitely would have perished, but Disney had billions of dollars to make, so he survived.