A MOMENT FOR GI JOE: THE RISE OF COBRA
Only a moment? Yes, that's it. Otherwise I'll go on and on about Stephen Sommers and how much I love The Mummy and Van Helsing. (I know three people who are going to stop visiting this blog after reading that sentence, but there it is: I love Sommers for his mind.)
And what a mind! That guy never fails to put at least two kinesthetically satisfying action sequences in his films. Watching GI Joe as a choreographer, I respond to the way the action is timed, plotted, and filmed. As a pathology teacher, and as someone who watches a doctor on TV, I can appreciate the way the Parisian chase scene would be physically impossible to survive, even with those exoskeletal suits the Joes were wearing. Does this ruin my enjoyment of the film? Absolutely not! I don't watch Stephen Sommers films for their realism.
The exoskeletal suits
Why couldn't the Joes endure an action-packed high speed romp through Paris in those suits? Well, I'm going to put this as specifically as possible while trying to stay sensitive to readers who want to enjoy this very enjoyable sequence in theaters near them. Those exoskeletal suits encase one head to toe, are reinforced everywhere, give the wearer supplemental visual interface with their environment, and enhance physical speed, power, and coordination. Plus they have guns build into the sleeves! The wearer of such a suit is one kick-ass cyborgian lobster.
But no matter how tough the suit is, the contents of the suit (meaning the person inside) are comparatively delicate. Even though a skull is pretty tough, the brain inside it is liquidy and fragile. It can slosh. When it does, the connective tissue holding your brain and its blood vessels in place can tear. That causes intracranial bleeding and injury. It's kind of like having a stroke. This type of injury is called a contrecoup injury.(1) Perfectly named if aquired during a ballistic Parisian chase scene.
Guess where that head is going
How do you slosh your brain? Get your body flying around the streets of Paris at the speed of traffic, and then stop suddenly. If you don't have access to an exoskeletal suit, get in a car and put on your seatbelt, or get on a motorcycle and put on your helmet. Kick up some speed, and drive right into a brick wall. It works practically every time(2).
Okay, I got sidetracked. Next time we'll do practical applications of the suit for paralysis.
1. Remember Terminator Salvation: Spoiler Alert #2? I also write about contrecoup there, if your curious.
2. Coup and contrecoup injuries can happen from a blow to the head, or through sudden deceleration. Either way, compressive forces act on one side of the brain, while shearing forces act on the other. Sometimes these injuries can be mild, but they can also cause coma, or death. For an excellent resource about traumatic brain injury, visit emedicine.medscape.com.