Ewan McGregor sits in a dark hotel room poised over a laptop. He’s visibly shaken after having just dodged the grasp of two hitmen, possibly sent by a college professor he just interviewed. So, like any modern internet user he pulls up Google and searches the professor’s name. Slowly, blue link by blue link, Ewan uncovers some nefarious connections that don’t bode well for him.
The above is a scene from Roman Polanski’s The Ghost Writer and a rather important scene that sends the trajectory of the story towards a twisty end. Notice anything? Unlike Polanski’s other well-known detective film, Chinatown, in which Jack Nicholson’s character has to traverse the L.A. landscape for clues, this large plot point is uncovered in minutes using the biggest web entity in the world.
This isn’t the first time that a character in a film has resorted to using Google to find information; though I can’t remember seeing a plot use it with such gall. Matt Damon’s character in Green Zone uses his satellite connected laptop to Google a reporter that’s pursuing him. Will screenwriters encounter this plot “solution” more and more? Not that they want to, but if their story is a modern setting dealing with realistic situations then the use of Google by the characters is a given. If they choose not to then they open up plot holes as big as Mount Vesuvius as seen from space in Google Maps.
It’s going to be an interesting trend to keep your eyes on, not just in relation to Google, but web technology in general. How long before a character in a Martin Scorsese film reveals mob/police connections on Twitter?