Bosses: The New Butlers
Lots of people say "the butler did it" when talking about mysteries. I don't know what exactly it means, or where it came from, but my guess is that there were so many of mystery movies/books where the butler did it that it became a cliche. Nowadays, I doubt anyone would actually have the butler do it, in part because of that phrase.
Well, it seems like bosses have become the new butlers: they're always doing it. Has someone killed your team of highly trained special agents? The boss probably did it. Is someone killing people in the witness protection program? It's probably the boss of that program. Did someone manage to plant a bomb in MI6 headquarters and then capture the head of MI6? It's probably the person James Bond was supposed to protect--effectively his boss. Are you a vampireslayer who has been asked by the vampires to help them kill a new breed of supervampire? Well, I have a hunch that the supervampire breed was created by the boss of all the vampires, who is pretty much your boss.
As you can see, this device has been used in at least 4 movies I can name off the top of my head (Mission:Impossible, Eraser, The World is not Enough, Blade 2), and that's just scratching the surface.
But, I've complained about this kind of thing before, so why have I all of a sudden decided to do an entire post on it? Well, I suppose the last straw came when I saw Constantine. In it, the archangel Gabriel (effectively Keanu Reeves's boss) betrays God and attempts to let Satan loose onto Earth (actually, Satan's son, to be precise, but that doesn't really make too much of a difference). This got me extremely angry. Am I supposed to believe that God--GOD!!!!--omniscient, omnipotent God cannot even keep track of his angels well enough to know when they are going to bring Satan onto Earth?
Now, there are ways you could rationalize it. It has been said quite a few times that God works in mysterious ways. And Jesus knew he was going to be betrayed, but instead of doing something about it, he just let himself be nailed to the cross. But I doubt the Hollywood writers had theology in mind when they thought up the ending to Constantine. Their conversation probably went like this:
"OK, so we have that Mexican guy with the Spear of Destiny that hasn't been mentioned since the first page of the script...perhaps if we revise--"
"No! No revisions! This must be done in one draft!"
"OK, OK, no revisions...well, how can we tie up the Spear of Destiny, Keanu Reeves's tumors, the prophecies about Satan's son, and that woman with the insane sister plotlines while simultaneously killing Keanu Reeves's assistant because I hate him?"
"Well, the only characters still alive are Satan, God, and Gabriel--how bout we make Gabriel the bad guy?"
"Yeah--and no one'll suspect it cuz she's supposed to be Keanu Reeves's BOSS! What an original idea!"
"And after that we can just throw in a literal deus ex machina (since God is already involved to begin with), and have everyone walk into the sunset as though the sidekick hadn't just been brutally murdered."
"Good. The only part left is how to help Keanu Reeves get into character."
"What the hell are you talking about? This entire movie is basically a combination of The Devil's Advocate and The Matrix."
"Oh yeah. Looks like being uninspired and unoriginal has its benefits."