The unsung heroes of the action film. The clean-up crew…

The next time you watch an action movie where the heroes randomly destroy parts of the city that you love spare a thought for a small, or more probably, a large band of people who, for no recognition have to rebuild the city.

The Emergency Clean-up Organisation, ECO, must be set up on an international level – The UNCLO? Either that or it’s a franchise organisation. Run from some underground bunker. Not an evil one but a nice bright workplace with lots of greenery and coffee. It needs to be protected like this as their main job is to plan disaster recovery and repair as quickly as possible.

If we assume it’s a part of the United Nations, then budget is easy. It’ll be a large part of the whole of the UN’s budget. They must spend billions of dollars a year helping cities rebuild after attacks from some sort of evil, incredibly well funded, organisations.

cube farm

Most of the time this can be just simple things like rebuilding a couple of walls that have been destroyed because a tank has driven through them. Repairing street stalls that have been driven through. Replacement of large panes of glass. In some cases this is, a large well stacked pile of, seemingly empty, cardboard boxes that have been discarded.

James Bond destroying walls in a tank

We can then look at the next stage in the clean-up. That of the building. This is normally an out-of-town power station, warehouse or other similar industrial building. The warehouse seems to be mainly there to build cardboard boxes that are all stored constructed and not flat-packed!

Most of these buildings seem to be on their last legs and need pulling down in the first place. it helps the regeneration of an area that is in dire need of it. This sort of clean up is the simplest to do as all you need is a couple of bulldozers, JCBs and a small workforce to remove the rubble.

Dark Knight Heath Ledger Explosion

Now, let’s move closer to the city centre. The small scale destruction of a number of floors on a skyscraper. This involves either a number of improvised explosive devices that are constructed by the hero to get rid of some of the evil people who have taken over the building and are randomly shooting people who they don’t like. On the other hand, it could be the evil people who are trying to cause a diversion or getting something important from a safe. This time then a large amount of high explosives are used to cause the destruction and chaos.

Unlike most large building fires, these tend to be contained on the same floor that the explosion occurred. Very little spread is, normally, seen. This can be changed but only for plot reasons!

part of the Die Hard Poster with explosions

Small scale property damage could occur but this is normally limited to emergency service vehicles and the odd cart selling hot dogs or pretzels.

Terminator 2 cops explosions

Working our way up through the scales of destruction, we now hit the destruction that a chase through a city can cause. Not only do you see a large number of vehicles being damaged or destroyed. Not only do we see military and emergency service vehicles destroyed but the family car. The latter we just hope that the car has been insured for this sort of damage. I don’t seem to remember that “Huge laser gun damage” is actually mentioned on my insurance.

Giant laser death

I’m not sure how UNECO copes with this sort of catastrophe. Do they pull in a huge number of personnel like FEMA or The National Guard. On the other hand, they could just hire local contractors and get them to repair the damage. How they do it is never explained but they do seem to work incredibly quickly as the destruction is never seen again. Be that later in the film or in the sequel set a year or two later in the same city.

City being destroyed

Who are these brave men and women of films. The ones that we never hear from but must tirelessly hard to rebuild their beloved city in an amazing timespan? Hopefully, we will see a film starring these unsung heroes.


After writing this and posting it up on twitter, it didn’t take long for someone to put me in my place!