Discussion in 'THREAD ARCHIVES' started by Asmodeus, Feb 5, 2015.

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  1. [WARNING: The following contains a spoiler for a very predictable film. Don't read if you're an idiot who is surprised by wafer-thin plots.]

    So, I watched John Wick last night and got into a rage. Not because of the premise, the acting, the cynical placement of black and female characters, the pointlessness of Willem Dafoe, or even the moronic choices of the villain...

    ....but the Mooks.

    John Wick is one in a long line of action/adventure movies where a literal horde of dim-witted and faceless henchmen get slaughtered wholesale. I feel that we, as viewers, are supposed to be desensitized to this, and look beyond these massacres to focus on the adrenal, visceral beauty of the hero in motion.

    But if you switch perspectives and actually reflect on these Mooks, it makes most movies horrendous to watch.

    Your typical mook:

    1) Is a white middle-aged guy in a black suit/uniform/coat.
    2) Never speaks except to usher a Wilhem scream or blindly acknowledge the orders of the villain.
    3) Has a basic inventory that includes a flashlight (to draw attention to themselves) and a single weapon (no backups - although one in ten will have a flick-knife so that the hero can show how he kills guys with flick-knives).
    4) Cannot take cover. Doesn't understand how to take cover. Prefers to run out into the open whenever the hero is taking cover.
    5) Cannot drive as well as the hero. Has not learned the esoteric secret (shared by protagonists) of ducking down when someone is shooting at the windshield. Also does not understand how shooting out tires might make things easier.
    6) Has zero marksmanship. He has never, ever hit a single living thing with that gun in his hands.
    7) Never coordinates with his team mates. Seriously, there's 50 of you, but you decide to split up and attack the hero one-on-one amid unfavourable terrain?

    Now, I agree that in certain war movies or horror movies it's a type of porn to see large numbers of people carved up in dazzling detail.

    But when watching John Wick and other films in the Old-actor-is-secretly-awesome genre, I get the feeling that it's simply a game of numbers. It's simply "LOOK HOW MANY PEOPLE THIS GUY CAN KILL!" It's the kind of thing we saw in the Rambo and Schwarzenegger movies of the 80s. The kills weren't elaborate. They weren't even interesting. It was just quantity - sheer quantity - to drum home the point that our protagonist is really kinda good at killing people as long as they have bad hair and are not women or kids.

    And realistically - what are the consequences of that slaughter? 75 mooks are killed in this film. How many families have just lost someone? How much manpower and resources does the villain now have to replace? How many police officers and detectives have to clean up those bodies in the morning? How will this cautionary tale be recounted in the "hired army underground", which I assume is a thing in movie worlds?

    Come on - think about the poor people in this scene. They were all kids once - they all had dreams. They loved and lost and had families. Maybe they're just doing this job to save up enough money to get out of the city and start a path of redemption.

    I believe it is infantile. And I believe that because I've seen it in roleplays. Usually the worst and most immature roleplayer will have an utterly unengaging character who cannot interact, cannot craft dialogue, and freezes up when any measure of intelligence is required in the narrative. HOWEVER, the moment there are Mooks available, on the enemy's side or their own, they will excitedly write a post in which they humiliate, belittle or just downright massacre those faceless NPCs.

    Their one objective: to look cool.

    I enjoy stories where there are good Mooks - where every obstacle to the protagonist is a fully fleshed-out character. Where suspension of disbelief is not stretched by imagining the news stories the next morning ("SIXTY SEVEN WHITE GUYS IN MATCHING SUITS FOUND BRUTALLY MURDERED IN A WAREHOUSE. GUNS WERE FOUND TO HAVE FAULTY SIGHTS AND BLANK AMMUNITION. ONE FLICK-KNIFE RECOVERED. FAMILIES HAVE BEEN INFORMED.")

    1. Do you think Mooks are fated to be forever mistreated?

    2. Do you notice/think about Mooks, or deliberately distance yourself from them?

    3. Can you recommend any films/stories where the Mooks are handled well?

    4. Are you itching to debate and personally attack me, point-for-point, because you think I'm slightly pleased with myself, but have been frustrated by the "Discussion" tag put on this thread?
    #1 Asmodeus, Feb 5, 2015
    Last edited: Feb 5, 2015
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  2. 1: I've got a pet theory that all action movies in this vein take place in some dystopian alternate reality in which cloning is possible, but can only create brainless derps with absolutely no self preservation instinct and no use other than as cannon fodder. So yes.

    2: Hey, someone's got to get slaughtered in the name of awesome fight scenes. Fuck 'em.

    3: 'The Raid' and 'Dredd' (which basically use the same pitch anyway) have a plausible reason for why there are hordes of dudes in a building trying to kill the heroes, I guess. They're still faceless punching bags, though.

    4: I've been calling you a cunt for years, and no lack of Debate tag is gonna stop me now.

    You cunt.
  3. I thought you were talking about MOOCs.
  4. 1: As long as bad writing remains consistent among all-flash-no-substance movies, yeah, but there have been and will likely continue to be exceptions.

    2: I do find myself thinking about whether or not the main character should be justified in killing them, like if they're just security guards doing their job. But I guess that depends on the specific work in question. But I guess there's some dark humor in it too.

    3: My first thought was this Stormtrooper scene from Star Wars: Rebels (from the Episode 'Empire Day', I couldn't find the rest of the scene on Youtube), which is from a franchise that's generally pretty mixed with dealing with them, having both entire stories and arcs focused on them or just regulating them to typical incompetent mook status. Even Rebels is guilty of that outside of that scene, and plenty die even if it's mostly implied due to being on Disney XD.

    My next thought, and largely a better example as an exception was Pixar's The Incredibles. I recall one bit in particular where one mook kicks up dirt and watches water to try and find someone using their superpowered invisibility. Mooks don't do that. Some do get killed in fiery explosions without much introspection from the main characters, but the mooks were so earnest in trying to kill them (children included) that you can't feel too bad.

    There are probably some video games that avert it as well (and they can easily be just as guilty of abusing mooks as much as any 80's flick or substandard roleplayer). My first thought is Metal Gear Rising, which has codec conversations wherein such topics are discussed about Raiden's enemies, including one bit in Chapter 3 where he fights police officers and has something of a breakdown, but I can't speak for the rest of the franchise because I'm one of those horrible people who played the spin off without touching the mainline games. From what I do know Metal Gear is pretty heavy with the anti-war themes and I can think of some bits that would imply consistent thought put into it, like an encounter in MGS 3 where you encounter the ghosts of every NPC you've killed, or something to that effect. I should play those games fuck but I'm awful at stealth. ;_;

    4: No?????
  5. psssh!mooksaren'treallypeople!
  6. Yeah, I remember that ghost sequence. That was cool. More stories should have that kinda karma.
  7. I think Die Hard made fun of this. What was it, 1-800-Henchman or something of the sort?
    • There's gotta be that fall guy(s). Whether its a few or many to make the good guy look even BETTER. They could be genuinely evil thugs looking for an escape by getting to commit crimes under the guise of camaraderie and brotherhood. Or they're just like a bouncer for a club, they need a paycheck and have a family to feed. Maybe they didn't cut it in the military?
    • Like to think a lot of the guys are just severely wounded. I mean, a single bullet wound to the shoulder and a kick to the leg and they don't move? Probably figured: "Fuck that dude, I'm gonna lay here and try not to bleed out."
    • Not a one. Maybe, just maybe if I did. They were likely a lietuenant or ordering the other thugs around. They might have had one line, a witty tag, a memorable scar, proved a bit more of a challenge to the hero/heroes/heroine. But no, not this early and not off top of my head.
    • gr8 b8 m8 I r8 it an 8/8
  8. ...except that John Wick specifically shoots them all in the head, even after he's kicked the shit out of them, just to show how he can shoot people in the head.

    That's 75 dead people in that city.

    And all those poor youngsters at the club who had to see that? Some of them will need therapy; some of them will develop phobias of the inner city and become perpetual shut-ins. Marriages will break up, kids will be orphaned. Shit - John Wick did all this because of a fucking DOG, but how many henchmen pets are now going to starve to death (cos y'know some of those guys are the "I can only live with a single pet" type of loners).

    Then some dick posts all that shit from his smartphone onto YouTube, with the tagline "LOL, I HOPE ALL THESE GUYS WERE MUSLIMS!" and that starts a whole new shitstorm.

    I get it. These films are fantasies. But surely there's a What-If factor that keeps us slightly engaged. In this case it's "What-if Ted Theodore Logan trained himself to be Saint Francis of Assisi on crack"? But where are we supposed to STOP reading into things?

    Movie watchers and Razilin are actively CREATING a sub-species and laughing at their demise. Isn't this worse than the misogyny and white-washing that goes on?
  9. and proudly
  10. I don't think I can now ever watch action films the same way again.

    Thanks a fucking lot, Asmo :(
  11. asmo strikes again?
  12. This is an excellent reminder of how fantastic Metal Gear Solid 3 was. There's a section about two thirds of the way into the game where you reach a nightmarish section where you're walking down a river, with the ghosts of every enemy soldier you've slain walking down past you, screaming in agony from the way you killed them, be it shot, neck sliced, etcetc. Absolutely fantastic. And that Metal Gear Rising scene was superb too.
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  13. They need a scene like that in the next Bond movie.
  14. Spec Ops: The Line also delves into the idea of how fucked up it is mowing your way through hordes of enemies.

    Seriously, video games are doing something better than film. Suck it, Ebert.
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  15. Hah! Jokes on you.

    No kill play-through made him kinda dull.

    That first time though.. Everyone had to die. Then I felt bad.
  16. Taken: Liam kills mooks!

    Taken 2: Mook's family wants revenge. (Subplot: Liam kills mooks!)
  17. 1. Do you think Mooks are fated to be forever mistreated?

    So long as people don't seem to understand the consequences of actions and the permanence of death? Probably. Why care about disposable people after all? I mean nobody watches a film like John Wick to learn about the character of John Wick: He's a fucking brick. They watch him to manifest themselves into his shoes, to live out a childish power fantasy. The mooks aren't people: They're the "bad guys" from every ten year old's fantasies of being a hero.

    Now add graphic violence so the common village idiot can be appeased into thinking it's an "adult fantasy" and you have yourself the formula for your average Hollywood action film.

    2. Do you notice/think about Mooks, or deliberately distance yourself from them?

    I think about them often enough that in my role plays, mooks are on a relatively equal playing field with player characters, and player characters don't have plot armour. Actions have consequences, death is meaningful, mooks have lives and relationships and some like each other, some hate each other, totally independent of the players. I found this was immediately more engaging because players began to wonder who the mooks were and started taking them as serious allies or threats.

    A specific example from one of my role plays called Legend of Renalta is Dirge: He was a mook orc knight that took out two player characters. He serves the opposing faction purely because he made an oath to one of their commanders, and nothing more: The players want to kill his commander and recruit him now. People like him, they want to know more about him, and they want to work with him. He was just a mook and yet my players are significantly more engaged because I gave him a name and a code of honour. Another example from the same RP is an at-present unnamed squire who risked his life to try and help the player characters out, and they remembered him and want to meet him again at some point.

    When mooks have personalities and relationships outside of being dead meat, people are significantly more engaged by them!

    3. Can you recommend any films/stories where the Mooks are handled well?

    @Grumpy already mentioned Spec Ops: The Line. Babylon 5 is a TV show that handles the lives and deaths of mooks well, dedicating entire scenes just to show empathy for their plight and little hints into their lives. They dedicated an entire episode to ground pounders, the episode is titled "Gropos" and gives names and backstories to these otherwise usually faceless mooks.

    Spoiler Alert (open)
    All of the mooks get killed at the end when they're shipped off to a front line conflict and while the TV reports list them merely as a statistical casualty of war, the audience is left feeling remorseful and the protagonists of the show are left devastated by their loss.

    4. Are you itching to debate and personally attack me, point-for-point, because you think I'm slightly pleased with myself, but have been frustrated by the "Discussion" tag put on this thread?

    If it means anything, old man, I've given it some thought. You had a point before in that other thread, that I can't disagree with. Maybe things will change back, maybe not.

    Either way, I love the topic. Glad I'm not the only one that finds senseless, endless, consequence-free slaughters to be about as exciting as watching paint dry on a wall.
  18. On the subject of mooks in rps, in my own rp our first chapter involved the player characters tackling a bandit infested, ruined castle that was terrorising the nearby town. The majority of these characters were nameless except for some for ease of clarity, but all were given personalities above the expected typical bandit persona to be a bunch of incompetent, street level, motorcycle riding punks who worshipped their bandit leader who they all declared was their 'big bro'. It's makes it a lot harder for players to rush forward and have their characters try and kill these ancillary characters when they have an actual personality and aren't neccessarily evil, just misguided. Fast forward into the rp a year later, and these ancilliary side-characters/mooks ended up returning when the main party reached a tropical island resort, and each had gotten new jobs working there, from being a Lifeguard to a Waiter, Poker Dealer, Stripper, Priest(!) and more! They all ended up rejoining with their 'big bro' to then go on and put on the most awesome rock performance ever at the chapter's end.

    The 'mooks' won. :D
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