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In The Marksman (2021), Liam Neeson's character fires two gunshots at a Chevrolet SUV. The first penetrates the windshield and kills the driver.

  1. Where exactly does he fire the second shot at? The wheel?

  2. Is this scene realistic? Where do you usually aim at a SUV, to roll it over? Any snipers here?

Slow-mo gif of the flip itself…

enter image description here

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  • I added the slow-mo to try analyse how they did the stunt [the gif is a tiny segment of a screencap of me rolling the 'playhead' back & forth manually in DaVinci one frame at a time, but was all I could upload to imgur]. Now, several hours later I've noticed the shadow doesn't follow the car properly once it literally leaps into the air & is behind it when it lands. It really ought to follow better than that;) I do suspect a good amount of CGI happened here, but I still can't quite figure out how they did it.
    – Tetsujin
    Sep 1 at 16:37
  • If you're still interested;) ..these are the two consecutive frames when the shadow finally catches up - i.stack.imgur.com/6qm1h.jpg and i.stack.imgur.com/wxyns.jpg [just beyond the end of the previous gif] The sky is white-over cloudy, so shadows should be very soft & diffuse. I have a suspicion the entire shadow, out wide left & right of the car… very unrealistically] is CGI… but somebody failed to keep it in sync.
    – Tetsujin
    Sep 1 at 16:58
  • Hilariously, mere seconds before, when the hero vehicle pulls up, it's a completely different day - i.stack.imgur.com/ylcDP.jpg - blue sky, sunshine & hard shadows.
    – Tetsujin
    Sep 1 at 17:01
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The shot was not what rolled it over. What rolled it over in this movie was the fact that the driver was dead and the steering wheel had no one to control it anymore. A fast sverve to the right rolls the car over as fast movement shifts the center of gravity. See this video for an example of this.

This is a common unrealistic trope in movies, as anti roll bars are exactly what prevents this, any modern car would not just roll over from a fast steer, or there would be TONS of accidents every day. In this particular instance it is extremely exaggerated and not something that could happen in real life.

Important to note is also that the second shot has absolutely no impact on the car flipping over, it is not even clear what it does. As said previously, a shot cannot magically flip a car over, this only happens through a shift of center of gravity. Maybe it killed the second passenger who held the steering wheel but this is not clear at all and one can only assume. To restate, in this scene there is a big focus on action instead of realism or even believability.

Summary:

No, a shot like this can not roll over an SUV or any other car. The second shot fired did not even seem to hit any structural part of the car judging from the camera-shot after, because the car would have behaved very differently.

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  • I also would like to note in a comment that there may be some rare occassions shooting a car actually could roll it over. In that case one would have to shoot off the front steering axle of a wheel and with some luck the entire wheel assembly starts coming off which can lead to a roll as the car is destabilized. Of course, this was not shown in this movie where we are instead supposed to believe that it rolled over from a simple too sharp of a turn.
    – uncanny
    Sep 1 at 8:33
  • You can see a small air burst under the car's left-front tire when he fires the second shot, so I'm assuming what they were going for was indeed "shooting the tire", even if that realistically wouldn't have the same consequences.
    – Erik
    Sep 1 at 8:39
  • @Erik You are right, I initially assumed this was just supposed to be a dust-cloud from the swerve, but it seems this should show the front right tire losing air. And yes, of course, a flat tire does not cause a car to just roll over either even at high speeds.
    – uncanny
    Sep 1 at 8:43
  • From a second view considering the comment of @Erik it seems they tried to give the impression that the front right tire exploded after being shot, the force of which lifting the car up on the right side causing the roll-over. Unrealistic of course, but their intention makes a bit more sense now.
    – uncanny
    Sep 1 at 8:48
  • If you look closely, after the second shot there is a burst at front-left wheel.
    – Rahul
    Sep 1 at 11:08
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Yes, but not like that

Is it possible to cause a roll-over? Yes, take out the driver — check — and then hit a front tire to cause an uncontrollable swerve, potentially making the rim dig in and causing the vehicle roll over. It can happen, but that particular scenario is more luck than skill, because it depends on things you cannot control as the shooter.

Also, it cannot happen like it is shown

...because of you look closely, you can see that the vehicle jumps up, and that cannot happen unless you apply a force in that direction.

"So, how do they do that?"

They use an air cannon. You can see it firing...

Cloud

The cloud from when the cannon fires is very visible

...and when the vehicle shows its underside, you can even see the cannon, still venting vapor.

enter image description here

Arrow shows the cannon, the ellipse shows the vapor it is venting

You can see it all for yourself if you pause the video, then use the period key [ . ] to frame-step the video.

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  • 1
    There's another shot of what might be the ram - i.stack.imgur.com/f8yNU.png - but there's a disconnect [one of many in this sequence] in the initial puff of 'vapour'. The very first frame you see it, it appears to be in front of the wheel - i.stack.imgur.com/oqraE.png [btw, I'm no car mechanic… I don't even know what car that is, better than 'an American SUV'] I'd bet any car mechanic could clear up whether it is a 'foreign object' or merely the flanging sprocket cooling duct ;)
    – Tetsujin
    Sep 2 at 10:38
  • assuming the car is flipped "practically" using an air ram (I also think I see it in the visible on the bottom of the vehicle, it was probably still digitally composited: shot of swerving; shot of vehicle with air ram firing, flipping car. It is even possible the initial flip was initiated on a stationary car. The puff of air on surface of the tire is fake IMO. Shooting the other front tire which is under load would probably be more effective IRL, but they are trying to cover the puff from the air ram.
    – Yorik
    Sep 2 at 21:22
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Actually it's a very clever depiction. Liam Neeson's character has figured out as to how to beat all of them at once since he cannot beat them if they get out of car.

In first shot he kills the driver so that he cannot control/apply brakes.

In second shot, he kills the front left tire, which causes it to burst and halt consequently causing the momentum of uncontrolled car to flip it over.

It's pretty realistic. Check out the video below.

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  • It was the dig-in that flipped it, not the blowout itself. As it hit the verge the rim would dig into the ground causing the flip, especially at the bottom of a slope, which would help it dig in. Even Formula 1 cars will do this if they dig into gravel traps too hard … & think how low to the ground they are. The car in the movie sequence has nothing to dig into, & it's not the flip corner that's shot out.
    – Tetsujin
    Sep 1 at 12:12
  • @Tetsujin: You are probably right. I'll add another video to support this.
    – Rahul
    Sep 1 at 14:52
  • @Tetsujin Not to forget I'd expect the flip towards the digging tire since that's the side the car is slowed immediately, resulting in a turning motion around that point.
    – Mario
    Sep 2 at 5:24
  • @Rahul It is still not the blowout that causes the flip. The concrete truck goes into the ditch... and it is that which cases the flip, not the blown tire itself. This is nothing like the film clip where the car jumps up from a perfectly straight roadway.
    – MichaelK
    2 days ago

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