Best thriller movie plot holes of all time

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Con Air picture

Plot hole: The convicts remove the radar transponder from the Conair aircraft and put it aboard a tour plane to distract their pursuers. That won't work. By law the tour plane will have a working radar transponder of its own, and two working transponders that close together will show up on radar as a collision. Air traffic controllers would immediately alert emergency services who would, obviously, wonder how two aircraft that had collided had managed to stay in the air. Nobody disconnects the first transponder - Pinball carelessly tosses the second transponder under the rear seat of the aircraft (the implication being that it continues to operate, perhaps on backup battery power). He doesn't disconnect the original transponder either - Swamp Thing, a skilled pilot, does that. There is no time for him to do any of this before he is stopped by the female security guard anyway.

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Minority Report picture

Plot hole: Anderton's wife gains entry into the jailhouse using her husband's eyeball - but he's already locked up inside, so his eye would not still have access to enter as it pleased. Any place anywhere that would have any sort of security system requiring anything from a simple passcode to a card key to a retinal scan, would immediately delete the user in such instances from all rights. And would also certainly report on any attempted use of such (retinal scan, pass code, whatever). (02:00:45)

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Suggested correction: I thought that this was a mistake as soon as I saw it on screen, but reconsidered. It's perfectly possible that there was some, probably human caused, delay in updating the security system. After all, there wasn't a rush to do it since they already had the chief on ice. Maybe the sleep jail was still on a legacy system without automatic updating. Just assuming that in the near future that all systems are all perfectly integrated and instantaneous does not validate this as a mistake.

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Die Hard 2 picture

Plot hole: The only reason the terrorists' plot can work is that the airports around Dulles are all closed to landings because of the violent snowstorm. If there were no storm, the pilots of the airliners in the holding pattern would simply divert to nearby airports when they started running low on fuel. If they were able to do that, the whole plot would simply fall apart. How were the terrorists able to count on the storm happening on the very day General Esperanza's flight was due to land? They didn't have any influence over the date of his flight. How did they know the storm would be so bad that all airports would be closed - except Dulles? I don't think they had any way of predicting the weather quite that accurately, and If the storm hadn't hit or had been even slightly less severe the pilots of the stranded airliners could easily have diverted to any one of half a dozen alternate landing sites, including a nearby Air Force base. They could do this without consulting or even contacting air traffic control. The whole plot falls apart from there - no hostages, no leverage, and who cares what happens to the people on Esperanza's plane? They'd have it shot down as soon as they knew Esperanza had killed the pilot and taken over the flight.

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Suggested correction: The terrorists in the film planned extensively for this operation, but the storm occurring may have just been a coincidence for them. They may also have had the plan waiting for a perfect opportunity, like a snowstorm. In the beginning of the movie, there's a news story on while the Colonel is exercising nude. The story says Esperanza's extradition has been long and drawn out, until a phone call from..." and he cuts the TV off. Given his connections, Colonel Stewart may well have been able to arrange a State Department call the week of a predicted snow storm. Esperanza's adherents may also have been able. Another scenario they may have had is to take the Air Traffic Controllers hostage (as they did) and have the other aircraft diverted for a supposed emergency, but the snowstorm worked out. Whatever the case, that element of the plot is an interesting discussion, not a mistake.

If the storm hadn't hit the pilots of the stranded airliners could easily have diverted to any one of half a dozen alternates, including a nearby Air Force base. They could do this without consulting or even contacting air traffic control. The whole plot falls apart from there - no hostages, no leverage, and who cares what happens to the people on the Esperanza's plane? They'd have it shot down.

That bothered me too when I first saw this in theatres. The chances of it snowing in D.C. on any particular day are pretty low, and the plan falls apart without it. The only way to 'fix' this is to assume that when the film was originally written, it was set in New York City. This makes more sense thematically...with the original set in Los Angeles. But at some point, probably late in the production, they changed it to D.C. for some reason, and made it fit as best they could.

The snowstorm was not part of the plan. Early on when the group of terrorists is sitting around the table about to exchange the package, Cochran is listening to a weather report and states that a huge storm is approaching, which makes the other men smile and one of them responds "God loves the infantry." The terrorists could still crash planes without the snow storm because they could impersonate the tower. The planes that are circling overhead are the planes that didn't have enough fuel to be diverted to another airport and that has nothing to do with a snow storm. The blizzard was simply fortuitous for the terrorists.

BaconIsMyBFF

The airliners we see could easily glide to any one of seven nearby airports from the airspace over Dulles, let alone fly there when fuel began running low.

That is a separate issue (and is indeed a mistake in the film) that doesn't really have anything to do with the blizzard. This film acts as if Baltimore Washington International or Richmond International Airport don't exist.

BaconIsMyBFF

And since they do, it is both a plot hole and a factual error. If they had called their fictional airport Springfield International, fine, but they didn't. They identified it as Dulles International which is within easy flying - or gliding - time to half a dozen other airports.

This is possible that other airports were closed due to bad weather.

Which necessitates the terrorists knowing that! They had to know the storm was coming for their plan to work. The stranded airlines could easily have diverted to an alternative even if that meant gliding, and they could do so without consulting air traffic control.

The terrorist obviously knew that. They are very arrogant and planned everything very accurately. They knew that other airports are closed because of the bad weather.

The airports were closed AFTER Esperanza's flight took off. The storm is an essential part of the terrorist's plans. Storms like the one we see can can diminish very rapidly or veer away from their original course (I have seen both happen) and cannot, ever, be counted on to the meticulous extent the terrorists do.

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Limitless picture

Plot hole: If Bradley Cooper was able to "quintuple" his money every day in the market as he claims to have done, he would have been able to earn the $100k he borrowed from a loan shark within a few days, starting from $800. Alternatively, he is shown in one scene winning a pot in poker where he could presumably also make a large amount of "seed" money from gambling. There was no need to borrow such a small sum of money from a loan shark, making the entire sub-plot unnecessary.

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Suggested correction: The main character says he did quintuple his money four days in a row, not that he could continue to do so. "Presumably" he could do anything, like robbing a bank. Gambling is not a secure source of income, even with knowledge of the odds and every tell, he could also lose a lot of money.

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Olympus Has Fallen picture

Plot hole: The fact that a five minute timer starts after the three Cerberus codes are entered defeats the purpose of the program. If they program was made to destroy their own nuke warheads in case of a misfire you would expect them to be destroyed as soon as all three codes are in. (01:38:20)

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Unstoppable picture

Plot hole: Had one or more locomotives coupled onto the real runaway's front engine, or even just been pushed by it, anyone aboard the "rescue" engine could have just walked to the unoccupied ones and shut them down - no copters or fireballs required.

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Suggested correction: Not necessarily. Some engines may not have a rear cab access (like Frank/Will's engine had). And even if the rescue engine did have a rear cab access 777's engine only had a side access stair which at the speed it was going is more difficult to climb over from the engine in front of it.

Actually 777's catwalk goes across the front, from side stair to side stair, but someone would have to leap over a rail or a chain to get onto it from the other engine. Why would there be stairs on the right side unless there was a catwalk to get to the door on the left side?

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The Day of the Jackal picture

Plot hole: An important plot point (in the book and the film) is that Charles Calthrop - thought to be the Jackal, at that stage - played some mysterious part in the 1961 assassination of Rafael Trujillo, the dictator of The Dominican Republic, and rumours of his involvement came to the attention of MI6 and Special Branch, leading to the accidental exposure of the Jackal's false passport. In fact there is no mystery at all about the assassination of Trujillo and there were no shadowy foreigners involved. It was organised by Trujillo's own senior aides, amongst them General Juan Tomás Díaz, Antonio de la Maza, Amado Garcia Guerroro and General Antonio Imbert Barrera. The gunman was later identified as Luis Aniama Tio. All the conspirators except Tio were arrested, tortured, and shot. There was no panicked evacuation of foreigners who were involved with Trujillo's regime, and no reason for them to be concerned - the government did not fall and Trujillo's brother Hector took over as President, ruling in a brutal and totalitarian manner for a further eight years. Any rumours of a mysterious Englishman would have been dismissed out of hand and would not have made it onto even the lowest level filing system anywhere in Whitehall.

PEDAUNT

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The Living Daylights picture

Plot hole: Necros had absolutely no way of knowing that Bond and Saunders had arranged to meet at the café when they did and wouldn't have had anywhere near enough time to track them down and set up his elaborate booby trap. Saunders only suggested the meeting place and time a few hours earlier, and it was kept strictly between him and Bond. The scene in Tangier, where Whittaker tells Necros to kill another British agent, takes place on the same day Bond arrived in Vienna; meaning that Necros got from Tangier to Vienna (a 5-hour plus flight), tracked down Saunders, acquired the materials to booby trap the café doors (or had planned this ahead of time - unlikely), and set the trap up well in advance of him and Bond getting to the fairground. There was nowhere near enough time for all of that to happen without Necros having psychic knowledge of Saunders' movements.

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Westworld picture

Plot hole: There is a barely credible explanation for the fact that a guest cannot be injured or killed by being shot in Westworld, but what about the vicious fistfight we see in the bar? People are injured or killed in bar brawls all the time, and this one was incredibly violent. How do they prevent guests from being injured or killed by the cutting and stabbing weapons we see in Medieval and Roman World? Guests are supposed to fight each other, not just robots - they cannot be 'programmed' to lose! Delos is going be sued into bankruptcy within a week of the first guest arriving. Quite apart from the legal position, think about the bad publicity! Who is going to pay the huge fees demanded by the parks owners when the media is constantly reporting on the guests who wound up dead or with life changing injuries?

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Suggested correction: The explanation given in the TV show would seem to easily apply to the original film as well: guests can be injured, but not to the point that it would leave a lasting mark. The park has access to futuristic medical techniques, so they can heal most non-life-threatening injuries easily. Also the guests almost certainly sign waivers, so in the event of serious injury the park isn't liable.

Suggested correction: It's easy to nitpick the factual details of "Westworld," the screenplay of which was written on-the-fly on a fairly limited budget, even by early 1970s' standards. Author Michael Crichton (who also wrote "The Andromeda Strain," "The Terminal Man," "Congo," "Sphere," "Jurassic Park" and several other technological thrillers) himself acknowledged that Westworld was more a visual story (like a comic book) than a cerebral piece of science fiction, and he learned on this movie that suspension of disbelief outweighed technical or even factual details, if he wanted to expedite the story in an hour-and-a-half. Crichton said he was having more fun and devoting more time to shooting the film than actually writing it, comparing the experience to playing cowboys and indians as a child. So, yes, Westworld is not much more than an adult fantasy with a number of plot holes that we are supposed to gleefully overlook, rather than analyze.

Charles Austin Miller

Except for blatant continuity mistakes you just invalidated every single entry on this site.

Suggested correction: Westworld ensure that any interactions with the robots are entirely safe for the patrons of the park. They cannot prevent humans fighting amongst themselves, just as Disneyland can't prevent people fighting there. People are also injured or die all the time in horse-riding accidents, but that won't lead to people suing Westworld. Due to the nature of the park, all the guests likely sign a waiver stating that any injuries are not the fault of the park.

Utter rubbish. Guests who were completely innocent bystanders could be killed or injured by the actions of other guests, notably in the bar brawl or by the explosion used in the jailbreak. We see one guest smash a barstool against the back of another guest - not a robot - which could easily have broken his spine. There is no question whatever that the owners and managers of the park would be held liable in this and many other cases, just as amusement park owners and managers nowadays are held liable when roller coasters or other rides go awry, injuring or killing guests.

The most plausible explanation would be a waiver that visitors to the park have to sign. The waiver would explain that while the robots cannot harm humans, other humans can, and the park is not held responsible. In the event of death or serious injury, the guest who caused it would face criminal charges and possibly a civil lawsuit. But a waiver would protect the park. Also, the rules of the park may be similar to those in the HBO Westworld series, where the robots cannot cause a "permanent mark", meaning they can injure guests as long as the injury is repairable.

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Hollow Man picture

Plot hole: Why on earth would the military be interested in a soldier (sailor, aviator, whatever) who has to go into combat naked and unarmed, and who is detectable by an enemy equipped with a pair of cheap, mass-produced goggles? How would you treat them if they were injured? They would be utterly useless in any form of military operation, even espionage.

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Suggested correction: Presumably the military are interested because Sebastian's research could lead to advanced forms of invisibility technology, such as the ability to turn materials and weapons invisible for use in combat.

You cannot second guess the film like that. Sebastian is making no effort to make non-living items invisible and throughout the film we see that is not possible (why else would Sebastian have to walk about naked?). His research is on animals (and later humans) not "materials and weapons" and is based on their physiology, anatomy and metabolism. How would you inject a rifle or a tank with a serum? They don't have a bloodstream. The military wouldn't see any value at all in this research - maybe they would be interested in invisibility, but not if it was restricted to living creatures as we see here.

You know how easy it would be for an invisible person to infiltrate an enemy's compound undetected and take out powerful leaders or dictators? Especially if no-one knew the technology existed.

Easy? Impossible. First, they would be naked and unarmed. Too bad if you are trying to knock off Vladimir Putin - a taekwondo black belt - with your bare hands during a Moscow winter! Being invisible doesn't mean you can avoid making a sound or triggering a pressure plate or an infrared detector and so on and so on. Final answer - a naked, unarmed combatant would be about as useful as a chocolate teapot in any form of operation, covert or otherwise.

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Flight of the Phoenix picture

Plot hole: This film is set in 2004. The thought that no search and rescue operations would be put in place after an aircraft disappeared from radar during a routine flight is absurd. The Chinese are paranoid about intrusion on their territory and the downed aircraft would have been located by a simple satellite search within hours of it crashing. Chinese military satellites crisscross the Gobi and they are equipped with optical cameras, microwave and infrared detectors and radar, so spotting a metal aircraft on the ground would be simple even if it was hundreds of kilometres off course. The crew would have been visited by Chinese military helicopters (and probably arrested!) as soon as the storm had died down.

PEDAUNT

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Suggested correction: The Chinese government, for whatever reason, may have denied there was any crash at all if it suited their purposes, and the oil company that owned the plane would have little recourse. The Chinese have done this before. For the purpose of the plot, the survivors decided that they had to save themselves rather than wait for rescue and that was completely plausible.

Suggested correction: It's now 2021, and we still can't find Malaysian Airlines MH370. So this suggestion of planes always being found is laughable.

stiiggy

MH370 crashed into the ocean, and in fact some wreckage has been found. The Chinese military does not have the south Indian Ocean under satellite surveillance 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, unlike the Gobi desert where a crashed plane would be spotted within hours of it going missing.

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Salt picture

Plot hole: In the end, all they have to do is ask the President, when he's conscious (Liev didn't kill him; he just knocked him unconscious), who killed everyone in the control room and nearly killed him. He would know who the traitor is and it's not Salt - when they look back at the facts, they'll see how Salt only killed when she absolutely had to, and how she saved lives and stopped a 3rd world war.

kh1616

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Capricorn One picture

Plot hole: Further to the comments about the Lunar Lander being useless as a Mars Lander - who is going to believe that three men spent eighteen months crammed into a tiny Lunar Command Module? Not only would they go out of their minds, where would they store the tonnes of water and food they would need in that tiny capsule? How could the Service Module carry enough oxygen or have enough battery power to make the trip?

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Suggested correction: You're assuming they travelled from Earth to Mars in the lander alone. The astronauts didn't do this when they went to the moon. The Lunar Lander was attached to the command module during the 3-day journey. When the astronauts reached the moon, they detached the lander from the command module and landed on the surface. It is reasonable to believe the astronauts for Capricorn One did the same thing, except on a much bigger ship for a journey that lasted over a year. We just never saw it.

Mike Lynch

The posting did not refer to the Lunar Lander, it referred to the tiny Lunar Command Module, the only part of the Saturn V that returned to Earth. From 44:00 to 48:08 of the film we see a live broadcast, supposedly from Martian orbit, showing all three astronauts crammed into a Lunar Command Module. The posting is absolutely correct.

This is another Deus ex Machina explanation for a blatant film mistake. The astronauts launched into orbit in a standard Saturn V rocket which could not possibly carry anything like a spacecraft large enough to make the trip to Mars. There is nothing in the film to suggest that there was a "much bigger ship" involved.

They are also shown seated in the tiny Apollo command module, supposedly transmitting messages from orbit around Mars. The posting is absolutely correct.

You're assuming the astronauts were launched in a standard Saturn V rocket, but with all the resources needed for a journey to Mars that took 18 months round trip, NASA would have to send them on a larger rocket to accommodate the required oxygen, water, food, spare parts, supplies, etc. needed to bring them back safely.

Mike Lynch

Did you watch the film? From 1:54 to 2:25 we see an establishing shot of a perfectly ordinary Saturn V rocket on the launch pad. From 6:05 to 6:43 we see all three astronauts strapped into the tiny, Lunar Command Module. As has already been pointed out from 44:00 to 48:08 we see a live broadcast, supposedly from Martian orbit, showing all three astronauts crammed into a Lunar Command Module. There is absolutely no mention of a larger spacecraft and none is ever shown.

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Flightplan picture

Plot hole: The whole concept of a kidnapper 'pretending' his victim didn't get on the plane in the first place is utterly laughable. Even if nobody saw her in her seat, why didn't they see her walking down the aisle to her seat, or waiting to board the plane, or in the boarding tunnel itself? Why isn't she listed on the passenger manifest, or on her mother's travel documents or airline ticket? And there would have been security cameras all over the airport.

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The Fly picture

Plot hole: The whole problem with the teleporter occurs when fly DNA is mixed in with Seth Brundle's DNA, starting his transformation into the Brundlefly. Brundle is on a hiding to nothing from the word go, and the fly is irrelevant. Humans are a walking talking mass of foreign DNA - we are host to one trillion bacteria all of which has a complete complement of DNA, as do various tiny mites that live in our hair follicles and all sorts of single cell organisms in our gut. If the transporter serves to mix the DNA of all living creatures which are in the transporter pod at the time Brundle would turn into a half-man, half-bacteria. Incidentally, DNA from a bacteria, an amoeba or a hair follicle mite would be just as 'compatible' with human DNA as that from an insect. It's quite a simple chemical, really.

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Suggested correction: Being as how the bacteria and mites and such were IN or ON Seth, the machine was able to organize those symbiotic relationships accordingly as teleporting one would teleport all. The fly was separate, not touching. The machine was not programmed to anticipate two separated entities and so combined them into one on the other side.

Phixius

We leave behind a vapour trail of bacteria and viruses (among other things) as we walk, in our breath and emanations from pores in our skin, and Brundle isn't trapping any in his clothes as he isn't wearing any. Brundle has an invisible cloud of DNA floating around him in that teleportation chamber and as far as the machine is concerned their DNA has exactly the same status as that of the fly.

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Evil Under the Sun picture

Plot hole: Patrick Redfern needs someone to be in the boat with him to corroborate his and his wife's deception and be his alibi. That is whole point of his wife lying on beach - he gets this when taking Myra for a ride - but it was portrayed as a random ride she got, he did not intend or plan giving her a ride, he did not see her loitering near the boat, or even in view of him untying the boat. Even if that was intention in the story for him to be seen ready to cast off, the movie viewers did not see her viewing him, only her appearing just before he was set to cast off. Without someone with him the whole deception would not work, he would have no alibi, he could have killed Arlena unseen.

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Die Another Day picture Die Another Day mistake picture

Plot hole: In the pre-title sequence, James Bond travels in a hovercraft along the dirt road, which is full of landmines. Soon after reaching the waterfall at the end, trucks drive up along the road he just drove in on to capture him. As there was only one road into the waterfall complex, the landmines must have all disappeared, as earlier on in that sequence, we are informed that the only way that the North Koreans can avoid the mines along that road is by hovercraft. (00:12:05)

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2012 picture

Plot hole: During the later parts of this movie there is much talk about 'continental displacement' and this appears to be happening in the film. The Earth's crust is falling apart because of the heating of the inner core, and all the cities seems to be falling apart since the ground can no longer hold them. When our cast finds themselves surprised to be already over China when they figured to be over the ocean, it is explained that Asia has actually moved from where it was. If this phenomenon is taking place globally, how come the monks in China don't seem to have been disturbed at all? In fact the bell the monk rings as the ocean approaches hasn't even been shaken. The arks are built in between the mountains, but the mountains are apparently fine. Shouldn't they be falling like the rest of the crust?

polaris

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An American Werewolf in Paris picture

Plot hole: When Andy turns into a werewolf, he kills both Amy and Detective Benbou. Later in the morgue, Amy tells him because of this that she is forced to become his "rotting sidekick." If this is completely true, then Detective Benbou should also be following Andy around but he isn't seen after Andy manages to escape from the morgue.

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The Mummy Returns picture

Plot hole: Anubis Warriors can only be killed by being beheaded. But during the final battle, you see several are killed by simply being stabbed.

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