I have likely seen the following hostage scenario a thousand times during my life of movie and TV viewing: I call it the DYGOISS, (pronounced die guys) which stands for "drop your gun or I'll shoot scenario". A bad guy has a gun to the head of a loved one, and is partially hidden behind her so the good guy has to make a dicey head shot, or drop his weapon.
And the Good Guy disarms. Every time. He lays his gun down on the floor and even slides it over to the villain... and somehow it all works out for the best...in the make-believe world of Hollywood. Oh the good guy may have to suffer a non-lethal wound, like Arnold in Kindergarten Cop, but he still manages to defeat the evildoer and survive and heal and get the girl and live happily ever after.
Does this bother anyone else? I remember thinking, even as a young boy, that giving up your gun, in this kind of situation, is unwise, because in the real world the bad guy now just shoots the unarmed good guy dead--can't have him following-- and either hauls the woman away for further hostage duty, or for entertainment or both or just leaves her to weep over the fallen hero. Or shoots her, also, because goody-goody caring good guys piss him off, and he is "bad" after all. The good guy, by giving up his gun allows all these alternatives.
"But...but," you say, "If he doesn't give up his gun, the partner-lover-wife-daughter-son-brother-father-mother-etc. gets killed."
To that I say, "Probably not."
Most people, film writers especially, don't consider what will happen to BG if he actually carries out his threat and kills his hostage. He now has no shield and no more leverage and will likely die at the hands of an enraged grieving GG. So BG really doesn't gain much by murdering GG's loved one, except for being known to be a man of his word.
The villain's initial offering is that he will trade you a life for your gun. It's a negotiation. You don't have to accept the first offer. If you keep your gun you can make a counter offer. But in any negotiation, you should have an idea of what is most important to the other party.
In the Die Guys Scenario, Snidely Whiplash wants to get away. He wants to live free and not in a penal colony. He usually won't kill or maim anyone, unless he has to. He is holding the hostage to achieve a selfish end. He wants to disarm the good guy to keep from being followed, shot and/or captured.
So If the Good Guy keeps his weapon the negotiation might go something like this:
- GG: (From behind cover, so he can't be shot) I'm not giving up my gun.
- BG: I'll shoot her.
- GG: You do and I will kill you.
- BG: She'll be dead.
- GG: So will you.
- BG: What do you suggest?
- GG: Give up and I won't kill you.
- BG: Not happening.
- GG: Let her go and run away and I won't stop you.
- BG: I don't trust you not to follow me.
- GG: We are at an impasse, then.
Right about now is when Vizzini and the masked man sit down to drink poisoned wine. But that won't happen with these two guys. Here are some possible scenarios:
1: BG drags the hostage over to an exit door and shoots her in some body part that won't kill but will require first aid, and makes his escape while GG tends to her. (If he is really nasty, BG shoots her in the lower spine.)
2: GG goes for the head shot and drops BG perfectly without mussing a hair on the hostage.
3: The hostage (yes, there is a third actor on this stage) suddenly goes limp, slipping down and causing BG to struggle with the dead weight and look away from GG. GG now has a larger target and risks a shot. Maybe it is a one-shot kill, but likely will not instantly disable BG. An exchange of hot lead leaves the hostage dead and GG and BG wounded.
4: Or harking back to #1 above, BG shoots the hostage non-lethally and threatens to do it again and again until GG gives up his gun.
Or GG negotiates further, trying desperately to keep BG from using options one or four, above.
- GG: You want to escape?
- BG: Yes.
- GG: Wouldn't your escape be speedier without having to drag a hostage around?
- BG: Yes.
- Hostage: I have a name.
- GG: Of course you do, Bess. Please don't interrupt. We're negotiating here. (To BG) You could back over to that exit, leave Bess, duck out the door and you would have a head start.
- BG: Not enough of one. You would follow and I would still be in range of your pistol.
- GG: Would five minutes be enough of a head start?
- BG: Yes.
- GG: If I could guarantee you that head start or that I wouldn't be able to follow you, would you leave Bess here with me unharmed?
- BG: Yes.
So I Ask you, what is the solution to this dilemma? Is there a way GG can guarantee BG that he won't be able to follow him? Let's hear your ideas.