Last night I watched a film (I won't tell you which one because of the massive spoilers that will result). It was a thriller about a (fairly) good man who finds himself embroiled in a world of high-powered intrigue, murder, war and all manner of uncuddly things. And he was alone - to heighten the tension, there was quite literally no one on his side throughout the film.
And at the end, just when he has finally won out, and I'm ready to go to bed with a cup of herbal tea . . .
. . . he gets hit by a car.
I was not happy. I felt cheated - I had rooted for this guy for two and a half hours (including very long ad breaks) and he dies at the end.
I'm not categorically against heroes dying. One of my all-time favourite films is Butch Cassidy & The Sundance Kid, which has one of the most famous heroes-peg-it endings in cinema history. I also love Bonnie and Clyde, which ends with a similar shoot-out. And don't even get me started on books where the heroes die - I'll be here all night listing the ones I love.
But I didn't feel it worked within this genre. I don't watch a thriller to be challenged. I watch it to be entertained. As I switched off the TV feeling down, I wondered if that was what the filmmakers were after. I wondered if that was the feeling they wanted to leave the viewer - melancholy and miffed.
What do you guys think? Is it always acceptable to kill the hero, or are there times when he or she must survive, no matter what?