MaryAn Batchellor has a problem with the ending of Snakes On A Plane. Specifically the fact that Eddie Kim, the man who put the Snakes on the Plane in the first place, doesn’t get brought to messy justice on-screen.
One of the things I loved about SoaP is the fact that it *isn’t about Eddie Kim*.
He’s irrelevant. It’s all about the snakes, baby. When the snakes are off the plane, that movie is over.
Eddie Kim is not the villain of the piece – just a catalyst. He’s a one-man inciting incident. And that’s why we don’t need to see him die.
(Sure, you’re saying, tell that to piñata-guy.)
I absolutely did not need or require Sam Jackson or SurfDude to go after Eddie Kim and shoot him in the head with a big gun. Because that always and only happens in action films.
The Mighty Bill Martell states in his marvellous wee book The Secrets of Action Screenwriting that “The audience that’s screaming for vengeance doesn’t want the villain to go to jail. They don’t want to see him sustain critical wounds and die later in the hospital. They want to see him annihilated.”
And dispatching the villain effectively can make a great end to a movie. Going back to the Daddy, Hans Gruber in Die Hard has a very satisfying end.
But it shouldn’t always happen.
Take for example Bad Boys II. At the end of the film, the bad guy has been captured. He’s guilty as hell. That man is going down for life. He’s being held at gunpoint by our two heroes.
So he then pulls a hidden gun out purely so that they have an excuse to shoot him dead.
I mean, really.
What the hell kind of plan is that?
It’s simply so that he can die on-screen for the benefit of the audience. He’s got no motivation to do that. It’s a stupid thing to do.
And, you know, sometimes sending a guy to jail for the rest of his natural is enough.
Even in films, justice doesn’t always have to come from the barrel of a gun.