We recently clued you in to the latest and bestest viral video phenomenon: a character from the 1973 Turkish film Karateci Kiz (a.k.a. Karate Girl) and his hilariously over-dramatic reaction to being shot. This in turn got me thinking about the exact opposite: scenes where a fellow knows his number is up, yet is pretty darn cool-headed about the whole thing. Hey, you don’t have to be Stella Adler or Lee Strasberg to know that when it comes to film acting, less is often more. Here are five actors who take this lesson to heart, with awesome results…
Liam Neeson — ‘ Batman Begins’
Here’s the thing: if you train a young Bruce Wayne in the ways of high-end martial arts, then subsequently double-cross him when he morphs into Batman, don’t be surprised when mi amigo decides you may have to be done away with. Ra’s Al Ghul (Neeson) learns this firsthand while chilling on a subway car with the Dark Knight. Realizing he’s about to meet his maker in the smooshiest possible way, this mentor-turned-enemy foregoes the flailing and sobbing for a calm and simple “I’m gonna slowly close my eyes now, ’cause this may get unpleasant.”
Steve Coogan — ‘Tropic Thunder’
Damien Cockburn (Coogan) is an arrogant-yet-inept British film director who’s set to become the linchpin character in Tropic Thunder, as well as the film-within-the-film he’s helming, also titled Tropic Thunder (you following?). Then, a few minutes into the film (the meta Tropic Thunder, that is), an errantly-placed landmine blows him into equal parts goo and shards. Not the most dignified way to go, but Cockburn does cling to a touch of character redemption when setting foot above the buried explosive. Upon hearing the tell-tale “you now have one second to live,” click noise, his reaction is a very poised, very British, “Oh.” Then, cue the flying guts, which are admittedly not so subtle.
Matt Damon — ‘The Departed’
Matty D. plays Staff Sergeant Colin Sullivan. He’s a young, two-timing skeezebag who spends his days tipping off the mob to the Boston P.D.’s various goings-on. And when he’s finally outed late in the film, it’s comeuppance time, courtesy of Detective Sergeant Dignam (Mark Wahlberg), a firearm, and a strategically-placed tarp. Sullivan knows this is his last hurrah, but in lieu of pleading for his life like a sniveling milquetoast, he sighs, accepts his fate, lets out an “okay,” and well, you can piece together the rest.
Jeremy Renner — ‘The Town’
Yep, another wicked pissah South Boston death. Jem Coughlin (Renner) is a career criminal, and a bit of a loose cannon, even by career criminal standards. My man likes robbing banks, which can occasionally put him at odds with the aforementioned Boston P.D. One thing’s for sure: if he’s going out in a blaze of glory, he’s going to do everything in his power to take a sip of his soft drink first, dammit! Hey, it’s the little things in life (and death), amirite?
Eric Bana — ‘ Chopper’
Bonus: it’s a true-life story! Like many of us, infamous Aussie criminal Mark “Chopper” Read was once sentenced to 16 years in prison for kidnapping a Supreme Court judge. The below scene depicts an actual event where, while doing his time in slammer, Reid (Bana) is repeatedly stabbed by a fellow inmate. I’ll admit this is technically a cheat, because Chopper doesn’t die in this scene. But dude, he should have (as you’ll see — seriously watch this clip). Anyhow, his reaction to each puncture is a slightly confused “Hey man, what’s up?” look, eventually followed by one that says, “I’m not mad at you, just disappointed.” Then, as we all tend to do after being near-mortally wounded, he proceeds to hug his assailant. Class act all that way, that Chopper! (note: as empirically awesome as this scene is, it ain’t for the squeamish).