• Michael Eklund at the fateful gas station in The Call

There’s a poignant moment in The Call, the big-budget exploitation movie currently playing around town, where the villain stops at a gas station to fill up the car he’s just stolen. He has a kidnapped girl in the trunk, so naturally he wants to haul out as soon as he can. But the station attendant keeps offering his services. “Can I check your fluids?” he asks. “It’ll only take a minute.” When the villain refuses, the attendant asks to clean his windshield.

Credited as Jose in the end titles, the attendant is a a heavyset man of middle age with longish hair and a slightly pockmarked face. In most Hollywood action movies, if you were to see a guy like this running a gas station, he’d be reclining in an uncomfortable chair, smoking a joint or reading a porno magazine—anything but making an effort to help his customers. I suspect filmmakers prefer to depict blue-collar types like Jose as caricatures so that audiences don’t feel bad if they get gunned down in an action sequence. Collateral damage in more ways than one, they seem expendable even when they’re alive.

The next paragraph contains spoilers.