Random Pop Culture Top Ten List
Top 10 Characters in Movies Who Stayed Alive Just Long Enough To Deliver a Speech
Random Pop Culture Top 10 List is a (fairly self-explanatory) weekly list in which the Review To Be Named gang take stock of the realm of pop culture, and come up with their Top Ten in a specific category.

Throughout the history of cinema, certain characters, in spite of being mortally wounded, manage to stay alive just long enough to give one last speech. Sometimes they need to tell the main characters important information. Sometimes they need to say something sweet so we'll be sad that they're dying. And sometimes they just have to drop some awesome wisdom on us before shuffling off this mortal coil. This week, we will look at the ten best instances of this, whether for sheer ridiculousness or sheer awesomeness (like last week, the fact that this list contains SPOILERS should be pretty self evident, but consider yourselves warned).

10. The Mask, The Mask

The Mask may feature Jim Carrey's best performance from his mad-cap mid-'90s period, but it also features a fairly spot on parody of the "death speech scene." When The Mask (Carrey) confronts the gangsters that have been behind all of the mischief throughout the film (including framing him for bank robbery), he is shot at multiple times, dodging all of the bullets through sheer wackiness. Yet eventually, apparently tiring of pulling out pop-culture reference after pop-culture reference, he feigns getting shot, falling into his assailant's arms and delivering an extended riff on the final speech, mocking Old Yeller, The Wizard of Oz, A Christmas Carol, and Gone with the Wind, among others. Sure, The Mask doesn't really die in the scene, but its the thought that counts, and clearly, he put a lot of thought into that "final speech."

9. Prince Rosenberg, Men in Black

The plot of Men in Black pretty much hinges on Guardian of the Galaxy Prince Gentle Rosenberg (Mike Nussbaum) surviving long enough to explain everything to Agent K (Tommy Lee Jones) and Agent J (Will Smith). See, he hid an entire Galaxy on his cat's collar, and if it gets into the hands of a bug calling himself Edgar (Vincent D'Onofrio) then Rosenberg's race will destroy Earth to keep him from accessing it. Its all sort of complicated for a pretty standard Will Smith comedy, but effectively, if Rosenberg hadn't lived just long enough to explain everything to our heroes, the entire Earth would have been destroyed.

8. Shepherd Book, Serenity

In Joss Whedon's big screen adaptation of his little watched but much loved space western Firefly, it was pretty clear he was going for broke. While Whedon initially spoke of creating a trilogy, he likely always knew the movie would be his last foray into the Firefly universe. So he used it to tear our hearts out a few more times before we had to say goodbye to the characters. The most senseless of the major character deaths (though not the most heartbreaking by a sight) had to be Shepherd Book (Ron Glass), the mysterious former passenger on the ship who is murdered, along with the rest of his peaceful colony, as a show of power by The Operative (Chiwetel Ejiofor), a malevolent government agent bent on capturing River Tam (Summer Glau), one of the ship's passengers. Despite being surrounded by dead bodies and being mortally wounded, Book lives just long enough to give spiritual counsel to the wayward Mal Reynolds (Nathan Fillion) one last time before heading off to that big rodeo in the sky.

7. Bill Carson, The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly

Another instance in which the death speech is essential to the plot, Bill Carson is the man who reveals to Tuco 'The Ugly" (Eli Wallach) and Blondie "The Good" (Clint Eastwood) that there is $200,000 in stolen confederate gold buried in Sad Hill cemetary. At the time, Tuco is preparing to kill Blondie for leaving him in the desert, and the dying Carson asks Tuco for water before naming the grave in which the treasure is buried. As Tuco runs to get water, Carson dies, but not before revealing the name of the grave to Blondie, who Tuco now must keep alive in order to get to the money. The death speech itself isn't even shown, yet without it, the movie would be over before the real adventure even began.

6. V, V For Vendetta

The end of V for Vendetta has V (Hugo Weaving) engaging in a huge gun battle with most of the corrupt government officials, including party head Peter Creedy (Tim Pigott-Smith). After being shot an insane amount of times, V manages to kill every last one of them before stumbling back to his lair to give a final, heartfelt goodbye to Evey (Natalie Portman) his long-reluctant co-conspirator. How does he manage to survive the ridiculous amount of bullet wounds long enough to say goodbye to his love? Because ideas are bulletproof, of course.


5. Jimmy Malone, The Untouchables

Jimmy Malone (Sean Connery) is selected to help Eliot Ness (Kevin Costner) bring down Al Capone (Robert De Niro) because Malone is "uncorruptible." So of course that means he won't survive the movie. Using his uncorruptible nature, Malone manages to discover the whereabouts of one of Capone's accountants and calls Ness to come over and hear about the location. Before Ness arrives, Jimmy is attacked by a knife-wielding thug, who he forces out his back door (because he's a bad ass) only to be mowed down by a tommy gun. Malone is done for, but he lives with his wound just long enough to tell Ness where to find the accountant, and to die in Ness' arms, giving Kevin Costner the chance to yell "No! Nooooo!" Which is really enough reason for a man to die, right?

4. Trinity, The Matrix Revolutions

Sure, Trinity (Carrie Anne Moss) almost died in Matrix Reloaded, but apparently it was decided it would be much better if she lived just long enough so that Neo (Keanu Reeves) would be blinded by the time she died. Personally, I think this was done to explain why Reeves couldn't muster up tears at the death of his beloved. Trinity gets stabbed by a shit ton of ship parts during the crash into Machine City, but manages to survive for a nearly five minute long speech about how she totally loves Neo and believes in him and stuff. Sure, her injuries are nearly identical to the ones that killed Wash (Alan Tudyk) in Serenity pretty much instantly, but The Matrix Revolutions wasn't bloated enough already, so she kind of had to give a five minute speech, just to fill the runtime out.

3. Roy Batty, Blade Runner

This one makes the list, and is this high, not because its ridiculous, but because its a shockingly beautiful end to the movie. After Rick Deckard (Harrison Ford) has spent the entire movie tracking a band of escaped androids, he finally tracks Roy Batty (Rutger Hauer) to a dingy apartment building where Roy fights furiously for the chance to live just a little while longer. Androids have reduced lifespans, though, and Roy begins shutting down during his struggle with Rick. As his last act, Roy saves the life of the man who has spent the whole movie trying to kill him, and then tells him of all of the beauty and experience that will be lost with his death. Then, as self aware and wise as always, Roy delivers the perfect last words: "Time to die." Its a poignant, mournful final speech from a man who wanted nothing more than the chance to live and be free.


2. Qui Gon Jinn, Yoda, Anakin's Mom, Star Wars

Good God does George Lucas love to use the improbable death speech. At the end of The Phantom Menace, Qui Gon Jinn (Liam Neeson) is killed by Darth Maul (Ray Park), but manages to survive his lightsaber wound until Obi Wan (Ewan McGregor) can cut Maul in half and rush to his side, where he dooms the galaxy with his last request: That Obi Wan train Anakin in the ways of the force. In Attack of the Clones, Anakin returns home, only to find out his mother has been kidnapped by Sand People, and is being raped to death somewhere in the deserts of Tattoine. Anakin gets there and kills the whole villaige just in time for his mother to tell him she loves him before dying from ovrexposure to Sand People penis. Finally, in Return of the Jedi the 900 year old Yoda (who by the way aged incredibly quickly between the prequels and the originals)waits until Luke returns to Dagobah to die in his arms, but not before telling Obi Wan, and the audience, one last crucial detail: "There is...another...Skyyyyyyyywaaaaaaaaaalllker..."

1. Boromir, The Fellowhip of the Ring

We've previously discussed the ridiculousness of this scene in our Blemishes on Otherwise Great Movies list, but its worth revisiting. Boromir's death is a huge deal in the narrative of the Lord of the Rings, but by the time you watch him get shot a million times before he finally keels over, his final moments are more likely to illicit laughter than tears. He gets shot. Then he gets shot again. Then he gets shot again. All of this is prelude to his gasp heavy final speech, in which he redeems himself for trying to steal the ring and gets his guy love on with Aragorn. Farewell, sweet Boromir. You lived like 15 minutes longer than you should have.


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