Shane Black Christmas: Helicopters, Guns, and Torture
What if Shane Black (Writer/Director of the megahit Ironman 3) did a Christmas Special? He did. All his films are Christmas films. ALL Are Set At Christmas. They are bloody violent action packed metaphors from the human condition of suffering during the holidays.
There are many great lines in The Long Kiss Goodnight, but my fav is “Life is pain. Get used to it.” For most people, Christmas is much more about pain than merriment. The ones with loss and trauma may be fewer than the ones enjoying the holiday season, but their discomfort is so much greater, and these films tap into that. It’s cathartic, watching thrillers about drug dealers and killers and seeing Mel or Bruce or Robert blow them away. It helps us forget about how crappy our Xmases are. Not only are they set at Xmas, but many of the themes of loneliness and dealing with the holidays runs through these films. Main and secondary characters miss their lost loved ones during the holidays, whether its Riggs missing his dead wife or the Kid in Ironman 3 missing his dad. Let’s look at some of the other things his films have in common.
A lot of helicopters, with people shooting from them and people shooting at them. The main villain Timothy in Long Kiss Goodnight doesn’t drive. He goes everywhere via helicopter. Helicopters are prominent in Ironman 3 as well. Assassin Gary Busey shot someone from a helicopter in Lethal Weapon. No one is going to forget death by chopper in The Last Boy Scout. Do they have a subconscious meaning? I think he just thinks they are cool, but there are a hella lot of choppas in his films. I guess when he was in Predator, he didn’t get enough …”Get to da Choppa.”
Hero’s hanging / tortured
Tony Stark tied up by his hands in IM3 made me chuckle. I could see Riggs tied up. And then Charlie in Long Kiss Goodnight. The president is hanging in the Iron Patriot suit even Robert Downey, Jr. in Kiss Kiss Bang Bang being tortured then hanging from the coffin. This may be a metaphor for the character holding on to the person he once was, but letting go or escaping into the ‘Hero’ he becomes or “Antihero” in most cases.
Tony Stark is a super weak, super jerk in IM3. It’s one of the things I liked the most about his character. He is written more like Tony Stark than Peter Parker. Riggs IS NO HERO when we meet him in Lethal Weapon, and maybe not at the end of the film. He is really a dangerous individual, for himself, villains, but also his partner. Willis has a character in Last Boy Scout that may be one of the most despicable heroes in modern film making. Charlie is The Long Kiss Goodnight is an assassin, ready to bury the house wife personality she’s had the last 9 years. Kiss Kiss Bang Bang’s Robert Downey, Jr. is the quintessential antihero. But they all end up saving the day, mostly by killing a lot of people, with Guns and Guns and More Guns.
Even when his films start with do “good types” like Murtah, they end up shooting to kill by the end of the film. Did anyone ever think they would see Tony Stark kill with a pistol like he was in LETHAL WEAPON V? You need dozens of body bags if you’re in a Shane Black film, because the rage of the holiday season needs to be exorcised by people shooting people. Again. And again. And then Again.
Personally I am a fan of Black. Some call him the father of the modern action film. I am sure that he is the father of the CHRISTMAS Action film. Maybe he is working through some xmas trauma?
These a great way to let out some anxiety and holiday rage after watching a few too many children’s Christmas movies. Frosty, I’m looking at you.
I recommend these for the holidaze in this order
The Long Kiss Goodnight
Kiss Kiss Bang Bang
The Last Boy Scout
Hey kids, don’t be The Last in Line shopping this year. Be safe.
Happy Holidays from RJD