Movies spread the ventilation duct phenomenon

Imagine you were trapped in a small room with locked doors and no windows, what would you do? If you were in a movie you would just head for the ventilation duct, remove it with the tip of your fingernail, smoothly slide in the spacious vent that would accommodate a truck, and easily sort your way out of the ventilation ‘labyrinth’. After a few minutes and no sweat, you are out, neatly groomed and free to go wherever you want!

Action, adventure, horror or a comedy movie; all follow the same pattern of easy-to-do air duct escapes where the villain is utterly surprised by the foxiness of his hostages that just shimmy free through that oh so ambiguous air vent. You would have thought they’d have figured it out by now…

It seems so effortless and ingeniously simple. Want to get out of prison? Use the vent! Do you need to spy on somebody? Use the vent! Looking for a perfect hideout from your mother-in-law? Use the vent! However, how many times have you read in newspapers about someone escaping from a prison via a ventilation vent?

Ok, so there is just one real life incident when prisoners got out of Alcatraz by using the vent duct. Although it’s more of an exception that proves the rule, the scriptwriters hang to it like to the Holy Grail. It may be just their laziness or lack of creativity that forces our typical movie heroes to throw themselves into the strangely clean, shiny air vent over and over again.

Let’s have a look at the most famous vent scenes…

Die Hard

Who wouldn’t adore the superhuman strength of Bruce Willis in Die Hard, when he climbs up and fits his muscular body into a narrow ventilation vent polished better than a mirror in a luxury hotel suit? Although he gets really dirty in the end, which just adds to the American hero character.

Red Dwarf

Take for example the Red Dwarf. One whole episode (Duct Soup) takes place in ventilation ducts when the whole crew has to crawl through them in order to reach the engine room. Although some fans were pleased to see Kochanski, the attractive heroine, suggestively wiggling her way out of the endless corridors, it still was far from being realistic.

Mission Impossible

It’s true that Tom Cruise is a tiny man so the chances of him squeezing into the air ducts are slightly higher. Anyway, he does more impossible throughout the movie so the ventilation trick just blends in.
Fifth Element

Bruce Willis passes his air vent hobby with Milla Jovovich, the beautiful fairly dressed leading actress, who gracefully jumps to the ceiling duct just before the villain pierces it with loads of bullets.

Resident Evil

Surprise, surprise, Milla has taken a liking to hiding in vents! Anyway, it is a similar case as with Kochanski: good-looking girl sweating and crawling in a tiny space guarantees that majority of men audience will be glued to their TV sets. Nobody really minds that it’s not realistic at all.

Men in Black II

Air ducts have a real importance here as the alien worms used them to get to the power control of MIB headquarters. Sneaky, isn’t it?

So it looks like air vents have dominated the movie industry. Whether you mind it or not, there is one lesson you should take out of this: do not ever try to duplicate some scenes from these movies, you may kill or seriously hurt yourself (or somebody else). Why? Usually, real air ducts are much smaller than those in movies and are not designed to carry a weight of an average human body. So, even if you managed to stuff yourself into one (I would love to see that), you would probably end up falling down together with the whole air vent. So much for a silent escape…

Drop us a comment if you think we’ve missed off a Hollywood blockbuster that love a bit of air vent action…

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