Only in the movies: 10 things films led us to believe

In the world of film, artistic license is often employed to amp up the visuals. In most cases, assumptions that films make are grounded firmly in fantasy. Here are the worst cases.

1. Bombs are always designed with an easy-to-read countdown timer

Guilty: Die Hard, Lethal Weapon 3, Fifth Element, pretty much every film which involves a mad rush to deactivate a bomb

Time bombs are usually used in the real world for the sake of political and terrorist actions, when a swift resolution is expected by the perpetrators. If there’s already a plan to blow up a building, there’s no need for an enormous timer.

In the case of deactivating a time bomb, it’s actually a very complicated process. Pressing a few buttons will not stop it.

2. If you get shot in the arm, you can keep going

Guilty: Return of the Jedi, Die Hard, Lord of the Rings

Cases in which someone is shot in the arm, shoulder or leg with a bullet or arrow are actually very serious. Despite what films may tell you, get shot in the shoulder and if you don’t get medical attention very soon, you’re going to bleed out. And all that blood rising from your body is going to make heroically stumbling to cover pretty difficult.

3. When cornered by a series of ninjas, they will attack one at a time

Guilty: Any Bruce Lee film, Kill Bill, Rush Hour

Gang mentality doesn’t have any thoughts regarding what’s polite. While it might be more reasonable to come flying at you, fists spinning, one at a time, there’s no reason for them not to jump on you all at once.

4. Hitting someone over the head with a bottle will only knock them out

Guilty: Blues Brothers, The Boondock Saints, Roadhouse

In order to meet certain age ratings, films will often go for the ‘smash a bottle over the grunt’s head’ option to knock him out rather than kill him. Here's a bit of film trivia: when anybody gets pushed off the mortal coil, the PG-13 rating is lost.

If someone is knocked out by a swift blow to the head, it usually only lasts a few seconds. Much longer, and it becomes a coma.

It also takes a great deal of force to smash a bottle over someone’s head. It’s probably not best to try this one at home.

5. Guns can shoot multiple rounds without the need for reloading

Guilty: James Bond, The Matrix, Sin City, Die Hard

Standard pistols can usually hold about 8 to 10 rounds. A military pistol can house 15. Shotguns have two shots before they need to be reloaded, which is a lot fiddlier than most films would suggest.

Regardless of how cool it looks, when your favourite action hero lets loose around 40 bullets from one clip, you know it’s Hollywood.

6. It’s possible to hold your breath for about 10 minutes

Guilty: Alien 4, Titanic

Try and hold your breath right now. Most healthy adults can reach the one-and-a-half minute mark. By the five-minute point, the brain has already started to shut down thanks to lack of oxygen.

Couple that with the fact that protagonists are often frantically flailing to get to the next source of air, and the exhaustion is going to kick in much sooner.

Another thing films often lead audiences to believe is that it’s easy enough to see underwater. Dropping you goggles in the swimming pool will teach you otherwise.

7. Chucking furniture into the line of fire will protect you from machine gun bullets

Guilty: James Bond, Die Hard, Rush Hour

There are countless action films responsible for this. The hero is in a sticky situation; cornered, gripping a gun with white knuckles. He has to duck and dive between tables and sofas to avoid a string of gunfire.

The thing is, unless the table you have chosen to tip over has been extensively bullet-proofed for a situation such as this, the bullets of a machine gun is going to riddle you anyway.

This goes for bannisters, plywood walls, office cubicles, chairs and sofas. And anybody you’re using as a human shield.

8. It’s easy to run in high heels

Guilty: Van Helsing, Catwoman, Resident Evil

Wearing high heels puts the feet under a lot of strain at the best of times. When you’re legging it from an angry mob or doing some sweet kung-fu moves, it’s nowhere near as easy in fabulous footwear as films would have you believe.

Running in heels very quickly becomes incredibly painful, and there is no way any lady in heels is going to be able to keep up with anybody else in a crisis situation. In the case of a zombie attack, take off your heels and use the stilettos to brain anything that comes near you.

9. It’s simple enough to hack into the mainframe of any high-security computer network. Including one that’s come from outer space.

Guilty: Independence Day, Hackers

The most well-protected data bases in the world are not likely to be hacked into after 10 minutes of frantic typing.

Hacking into a network or a computer does not involve a series of pretty screens or colourful visualisations. In reality, hacking is completed almost entirely through a command line: that means lines and lines of boring, bland text.

In addition, the likelihood of an alien mother ship being accessible from your MacBook is low to say the least. In the case of being trapped inside an alien ship, don’t waste time trying to upload a virus onto the mainframe.

10. There are massive, fiery explosions in space

Guilty: Star Wars, Armageddon, Alien

It’s not a sci-fi action film if there’s not a series of explosions. However, explosions in space are nothing like the ones in science fiction films.

Stars explode or implode all the time. Supernovas or novas occur as a standard part of the life cycle of a star.

What films get wrong is the fire, sparks and huge boom which usually accompanies the destruction of an enemy ship or planet. In actual fact, nothing exploding in space looks quite so dramatic.

In order for flame to be present, there must be oxygen – there is none in space. As for the big boom, given that space is a vacuum there is no way for sound to travel.

If a spaceship exploded, there could be flames produced from the residual oxygen inside the ship. However, this would be burnt up within seconds.