John McClane: Hey man, when you go through the airport metal detector, what sets it off first? The lead in your ass or the sh*t in your brains?
The film is based on a book called "58 Minutes" by Walter Wager. In the book, it is the hero's young daughter, not his wife, that is on one of the planes. See more...
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Die Hard 2 (1990) - 64 mistakes
A few people have said that if the plane was running on fumes it couldn't explode into a huge fireball - yes it could, because fumes are just as explosive, if not more so.
Plot hole: The terrorists some how raise the elevation of the airport in relation to the ILS (instrument landing system). This causes one of the jets to crash. The ILS glide slope is broadcast from a fixed antenna beside the runway, 1000 feet from the approach end. The glide slope is fixed at (usually) 3 degrees. Even if someone changed the slope (ie, degrees of slant), it would still terminate on the runway at the touchdown zone. Besides, the pilots have charts that give all pertinent information about the ILS and also have altimeters, radar altimeters, ground proximity warning systems (GPWS), and brains (duh). All of those systems listed are on board the aircraft, independent of the ground based systems. They would not have descended into the ground even if the terrorists had tampered with the ILS.
Continuity: Bruce Willis is emerging from an underground air-vent when the plane with General Esperanza is landing. Initially the plane is coming on a direct course for him and he struggles to get out. In fact the front wheel is on course with and knocks the vent cover. But in the very next scene, the tire marks clearly show the front wheel passed to the right of the vent and so completely missed it.
Continuity: In the beginning of the movie when John is sitting at a table in the airport smoking a cigarette, you see him notice the table with the 3 (2 white and 1 black) guys that are acting suspicious. When the black guy gets up to leave, he leans down and you see a hand grab a package. If you notice, the hand that grabs the package is white. Later when the two white guys leave, one of them leans down to grab the package and it's the same shot that was used when the black guy grabbed his package.
Factual error: Near the beginning of the film when John McClane goes to the pay phone and calls his wife Holly on the airplane, that is impossible. Those phones you see on the seats on the plane can only be used from the air to the ground not the other way around. Holly does answer on the plane phone and not on any cell phone she had in her purse.
Continuity: When Col. Stuart is talking to Gen. Esperanza on the walkie-talkie about what runway to land on, behind Stuart you can see one of his men walk up to the map of the runways. Stuart turns around and starts walking to the map and the guy isn't there anymore. When Stuart gets in front of the map, the guy comes up and tells him which runway Esperanza should land on.
Factual error: When McClane (Bruce Willis) is brought into Capt. Lorenzo's (Dennis Franz) office at Dulles Airport for the first time, Lorenzo mentions that McClane was in violation of several District of Columbia laws. Dulles Airport is in Virginia, not DC, therefore any DC laws would not apply to Dulles. (Although VA may very well have similar laws about airport misconduct.)
Continuity: During the last fight scene on the wing of the plane, just after the guy is sucked into the engine, general Stuart comes rushing out and yells something like "it's time for the main event". At this, John rolls over onto his back. The shot then switches to much further away, and he is still on his stomach. The camera cuts in close again, and John is back on his back, and sliding towards the center of the wing. The camera cuts away again and shows John back on his stomach and just now rolling over.
Factual error: Since the terrorists have implausibly taken over all the radios at the airport, the good guys use the marker beacons to communicate with the airplanes. Even if the marker beacons could be modified to talk rather than beep, they are directional, such that you only receive them for a few seconds as you pass over them. There is not enough time to get a message. Nor could a marker beacon be used to broadcast to a large number of airplanes. The outer marker is only 5 miles from the airport. At most, one airplane would be holding over the outer marker.