Why Are Warehouses Always Places of Violence in Movies?
Does any location get as a bad a reputation from the movies as warehouses do? Think about it, they’re essential to modern life yet movies like The Departed, Kick-***, Layer Cake, Unknown, Hard Boiled, Shoot ’em Up, etc… all show warehouses as havens for criminals to do bad things. They should be celebrated for getting us everything we need to stay alive (food and other goods) in an efficient and timely fashion.
So why is this? Why does a place that’s so integral to everyday life get such a bum rap?
1. Isolation – you’re rarely going to see a warehouse in the heart of downtown; they’re usually on the outskirts away from ears and the centralized police forces. To somebody who’s not a criminal, it seems like it would be the ideal place to commit crimes. Movies are all about allowing the audience to project their thoughts onto the characters up on the screen. Obviously, something about warehouse violence just makes sense to the people who watch these movies.
2. “Cold” Surroundings – warehouses in movies are typically relatively uncluttered. Just like the old saying, “a place for everything and everything in its place,” movie warehouses are heavily organized and typically lack any characteristics that make it unique. They’re coldly efficient, have a distinct workflow to them that characters can work their way through, have lots of places for a quick rest and to duck behind and are filled with machines that can dispose of any “messes.”
3. Common Perceptions – like it or not, people think they’re shady places, run by shady people. Take a hyper-violent movie like Kick-*** for example, where a crime boss headquarters his operations from a warehouse. Or in The Departed where the Boston Mafia centers its operations around one as well. Warehouses may be great, well-run businesses but they just can’t shake the perception that they’re a front for something nefarious.
4. Isolated Real-life Incidents – perform a Google search for “Warehouse Violence” and you’ll be treated to a cavalcade of stories about shootings in a city’s “warehouse district” or results for arsons and murders that have taken place. Sometimes it only takes a couple bad eggs to spoil the bunch.
5. When it Comes Down to it, It Just Looks Cool – watch an early John Woo movie and focus on the stark contrast between the cold backdrop mentioned above and the mess of violence. It can be breathtaking to behold. In their essence, movies are just supposed to entertain us visually and warehouses provide a great setting for that (if you’re into violent movies).
There is a bright spot on TV though, where NBC’s The Office includes a warehouse with smart hardworking people, where fun events like jam sessions and basketball games can take place to let people blow off some workday steam.