HVAC air ducts have provided protagonists and antagonists means of escape, sneaky entrances, and surprise attacks in movies. While the scenes in these movies may not be completely realistic to real life standards, they’re still enjoyable and entertaining to watch. Below are a few scenes in which an HVAC air duct was used in a crafty way by movie characters.
Perhaps the most infamous scene from the Mission Impossible series is Tom Cruise’s character being lowered into the white control room at Langley. Given the tight security surrounding this mission, Tom Cruise’s character can’t simply waltz through the front door. The air duct gives him access from the ceiling to retrieve the information without triggering any alarms. During the scene we see his accomplice lowering him down from the safety of the immensely strong and study air duct above.
The Fifth Element
In this wacky sci-fi movie, an alien is transformed into a human female. After her transformation is complete, she’s completely bewildered, confused, and scared. In order to escape those trying to capture her, she leaps head first into an air duct. There she navigates the tunnels searching for a way out. This character also tries to escape through an air vent in the climax of the film, but soon realizes the vent is circular and there’s no way out. Needless to say, ventilation sure comes in handy when this otherworldly creature is looking for escape.
Alien is unique in that the antagonist (the alien) is the one using the ventilation system to navigate and surprise her prey. This scenario stretches the truth to its limit, since we can guess that the alien likely weighs near one ton and spits acid. These two factors combined make it highly unlikely that the alien could be properly supported in this fashion, but then again, it does make the film thrilling and suspenseful.
The Breakfast Club
The Breakfast Club inserted a bit of truth into their HVAC air duct escape scene. After rebellious character Bender is locked away in the broom closet for misbehaving, he escapes through the duct above the hallways. Once he’s over the library, where all the other students are, the duct caves and he falls through. Since most airways likely can’t support the weight of a human, this is the most realistic scene on the list. The collapse also provides a funny punchline for Bender’s unfinished joke.
A group of agents enter an underground facility that’s been shut down due to a virus outbreak. Once the group realizes the virus has turned the dead into walking zombies, they scramble for a way to exit the underground facility safely. Navigating through hallways, laboratory rooms, and utility tunnels, the group finally makes their way through an air shaft to reach safety and evade the hungry zombies.
Though escape through an HVAC air ventilation system isn’t likely your best bet in real life, it makes for a thrilling and entertaining escape in movies. We’re likely to see many more sneaky crawls through airways to come in the future.