There’s one thing body armor manufacturers really want you to know: nothing is bulletproof. Some things are “bullet resistant.” They’ll stop some bullets from some ranges, but they are by no means an undefeatable opponent. Hollywood, for the sake of their movie magic, chooses to pretty much ignore this. It doesn’t matter what they shot at you or from how far away, if you were wearing a vest, you’re doing just fine. Not so fast, friends. That just ain’t right – but it’s not the worst Hollywood offense either.
First, we’ll address the magic vest that can stop just about anything. In The Punisher, Tom Jane’s Frank Castle manages to absorb a full load of buckshot from a 12 gauge shotgun from a range of about one meter – the end result? He sort of stumbles. Now, depending on the load out of the gun and if it was indeed firing shot instead of a slug, it’s possible the vest would have stopped the projectiles from penetrating. But you can be damn sure that the force dumped would have had some real physical results. Intense bruising, possibly damage to the internal organs. Almost assuredly even a tank like the Punisher would take a knee after suffering that. There are a variety of other movies, starring guys like Segal, Snipes, or Van Damme, where someone takes a whole chestful of bullets that maybe should penetrate, only to have them stand, dust themselves off, and go back to the fight. We’re not talking about US Army Interceptor armor here, fitted with full inch thick plating, but rather slim and comfortable (and totally fashionable) vests not meant to suffer that large of an ass kicking.
That aside. Let’s imagine there is a magical vest capable of stopping anything and everything. Without fail, after absorbing a few projectiles, our hero will make just about the stupidest decision imaginable. If you watched Sunday’s Human Target preview, you saw it. Mere moments after the vest saves the hero’s life, he takes it off. Opens his shirt to reveal a couple of nice, shiny bullets stuck in it. Then pulls off the velcro and tosses the vest aside. What the hell is that about? I mean, the other guy just proved that he is a good enough shot to hit you. The vest just proved it can stop bullets. But you’re going to go it alone? Forget that, man. You keep that thing on. It’s not like they’re disposable. That very expensive accessory is still capable of saving your life from that same situation. I don’t get it. Why take it off? It’s like in Saving Private Ryan where a GI’s helmet takes a hit and deflects it, saving his life. Now knowing that a German was shooting at his head, what does he do? Takes the helmet off and gets shot in the forehead. Keep the helmet on! Why throw away any advantage?
Perhaps writers put this in as a way to get some false drama – the hero has been shot! Oh no! Kidding, he’s fine. But now he doesn’t have the vest on, so if he gets shot in the next scene, he’s in big trouble, really. So get concerned. Whatever, Hollywood. You’ve lost me again. Clearly this hero deserves a painful 9mm round in the gut if he’s stupid enough to toss away his protection when fighting an accurate shooting bad guy. Despite how awesome gun battles are, sometimes I just wish Hollywood would back off because if they don’t hire an expert, they have terrible, shitty knowledge of how things work in the firearms department. Then again, I need to see me the wanton violence. But seriously, get this shit straight on ballistic vests – they don’t stop everything but more importantly, when they do, keep that shit on. There is no reason to throw it away. Every time I see anyone, having just learned first hand the value of a bullet resistant vest, tossing it aside, while I shatter my boiling point.