ByTommy DePaoli, writer at
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Tommy DePaoli

There's nowhere quite like the movies to find heroes in impossible straits with absolutely no salvation in sight. Take The Martian for instance. The upcoming sci-fi from Ridley Scott finds Matt Damon stranded on Mars all by himself with an extremely limited amount of resources to survive. What's a leading man or woman to do?

In the best of cases, they figure out a way to MacGyver the hell out of their predicament. That entails using unlikely, everyday, or handy objects to create a way out of the fray. Of course, in some scenarios, there's a bit more fire power on hand, but in the best cases, imagination is the only weapon these folks need. Here are 11 incredible moments of movie resourcefulness.

1. Aliens

Duct tape is the most essential tool for lazy college students and functional adults alike, but it's also a useful thing to have on hand when faced with one pissed off Alien Queen. For Ripley, the power of duct tape means combining an automatic pulse rifle/grenade launcher with a flame thrower in order to save an innocent little girl (and this is before getting into any mechanized suit).

(Note: Let it be known that I do not find Ripley to be anything close to a "mediocre" woman as this fan-made clip foolhardily suggests at the end)

2. Evil Dead II

Evil Dead II offers our hero Ash another chance to fight those pesky forces of darkness, and this time, he's coming armed. And by armed, I mean he's latching a chainsaw onto the spot where his formerly possessed hand had been, effectively creating the greatest prosthetic in movie history.

So it's not the most inventive of weaponry, but who doesn't want to see Bruce Campbell make full use out of a chainsaw appendage?

3. Cast Away

When poor Tom Hanks lands on an island devoid of any people or human amenities, he's forced to use whatever washes up on shore to stay alive. Good news: he was shuttling FedEx packages when his plane went down. Bad news: those packages consist of a taffeta party dress, ice skates, and cassettes.

Luckily for this cast away, the ample amount of alone time brings about some brilliant uses of these seemingly useless tools. He turns the dress into a fishing net, strings the actual tape from the videos into rope, and utilizes the blades from the skates for an axe.

4. Salt

Angelina Jolie builds a missile launcher out of a desk chair, a fire extinguisher, and household cleaning products.

Why do you think she's so comfortable venturing to war-ravaged countries that are still littered with landmines?

5. Iron Man

When a billionaire lothario gets kidnapped by the least attentive abductors ever, what's he to do? Build the first version of an iconic costume, of course! Tony Stark uses nothing more than a box of scraps to create the first functional Iron Man suit and uses it for a successful escape.

6. The Martian

In the upcoming space survival story, The Martian, astronaut Mark Watney (Matt Damon) is abandoned on Mars and must come up with unprecedented strategies in order to survive. The solution? Grow potatoes in the barren wasteland of an uninhabitable planet! It sounds impossible, but

7. Apollo 13

As their ship steadily fills up with a deadly stream of carbon dioxide, a group of engineers and astronauts must figure out a way to "fit a square peg in a round hole" by jury-rigging a filtration system. As we watch them assemble it, we see the solution includes a sock, a plastic baggy, a folder cover, and, of course, ample amounts of duct tape.

8. Prometheus

Okay, so this is a future where medical machines have certain procedures preprogrammed into them, but let's not forget that poor Shaw lands in an autodoc intended for a male patient. That leads her to frantically punch in an invasive abdominal surgery to remove the absolute last thing you want growing inside of you.

9. The Bourne Supremacy

Jason Bourne blows up an entire building using only a newspaper and a toaster. What more needs to be said?

10. A Series of Unfortunate Events

Unfortunate child Violet Baudelaire is defined by her inventiveness, and when she ties her hair back with a ribbon, you know some impressive ingenuity is about to go down. Her skill for making unexpectedly useful creations out of junk was a bigger focus in the book series, but it still got her and her siblings out of a pickle (or three) in the movie.

11. The Lego Movie

One of the greatest aspects of The Lego Movie (out of a nearly infinite list) is the fact that pure resourcefulness is the universe's most revered quality. This is a society where being MacGyver-ness is close to godliness, and the main character spends the entire movie trying to live up to his practical potential. I can think of no better example to complete this list.

Since it's the only one on this list still to be released, be sure to see how resourcefulness pays of in The Martian when it lands in theaters on October 2nd!


For our next Moviepilot Magazine, it's all about fear. So we're polling our readers to find out what terrifies them. You can help by answering the question below!


I have no problem watching horror movies alone at night by myself.


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