Best thriller movie plot holes of all time

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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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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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Hollow Man picture

Plot hole: There must be a lot of dumb scientists in Sebastian's lab. While defibrillating the invisible gorilla, (s)he becomes completely visible for a moment. However, not once do the scientists consider that applying a mild electrical shock to the system renders the invisible animal visible again - that electricity may be the key to the whole invisibility problem. They don't even comment upon the fact that the gorilla does become visible.

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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.

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.

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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 land mines. 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 in to 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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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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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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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: 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.

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.

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Capricorn One picture

Plot hole: The "death" of the three astronauts and the requirement to then fake the whole scenario of the failed mission was obviously unplanned - it came about because of an unexpected computer glitch which reported that they had burned up on reentry, causing a mad scramble to cover up the fake mission and kill the astronauts. Obviously it was planned to have the astronauts "return" to Earth as heroes after their supposed trip to Mars, maintaining their deception (under threat if necessary) for the rest of their lives. One problem. Every scientist on earth would be champing at the bit to get their hands on a sample of Martian rock. Samples would be worth billions, worth far more than Moon rocks are worth today. How was NASA going to explain they didn't have any? They could not possibly fake the rocks - Martian soil and rocks would have a number of identifiable characteristics that a smart first year college student could identify. Using Martian meteorites collected from the Earth's surface won't work, either - prolonged exposure to the Earth's atmosphere would leave tell tale weathering and chemical changes that would be instantly detectable. NASA have painted themselves into a corner and that is not something they would have failed to realise well in advance.

PEDAUNT

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Suggested correction: They could use meteors that had landed on Earth. This is one of the theories for the "faked" moon landing, that they either created the moon rocks from scratch, or collected meteors. As for the death of the astronauts, that's not a plot hole, it's the plot of the movie; the powers that be wanted the men to fake everything and return as heroes. When they wouldn't play along, it was decided they needed to be eliminated.

It is clear from the narrative of the film that it was planned that the astronauts would "land" safely. Using meteorites would not work - exposure to the Earth's atmosphere would mean (and has meant) that the rocks would show weathering and chemical changes that anyone would be able to detect.

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Ocean's Eleven picture

Plot hole: Where do the flyers come from that are in the bags that are carried out of the vault and into the van? Danny and Linus couldn't have taken them down there and there is no room with the Chinese man. They are carried out to the van before the SWAT team appears, which means they'd have to have been in the vault to start with? In the commentary by Steven Soderbergh he acknowledges that there's no explanation. (01:35:05)

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The Core picture

Plot hole: How do they maintain communication between the ship at the centre of the earth and the surface? There's no wire, and radio waves can only travel any distance without obstacles, and the earth's crust would be a pretty hefty obstacle...

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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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Spider-Man 2 picture

Plot hole: Harry tells Doc Ock that in order to find Spider-Man he must find Peter first. Doc Ock finds Peter with Mary Jane in the cafe and throws a car through the window straight at them, then later throws Peter against a brick wall. Any normal person would've been killed instantly (or very badly injured), and Doc Ock doesn't yet know that Peter is Spider-Man. Given that Peter is his only lead on Spider-Man, it makes no sense that Doc Ock would try to kill him.

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Suggested correction: Doc Ock is being controlled by the arms. They aren't behaving rationally.

Creating a series of silly explanations for obvious plot holes never resolves them. These arms were not behaving irrationally. In many scenes they were shown to be very intelligent. A good example is the scene where they attack doctors who try to remove them from Doc Ock's body. Saying that they weren't behaving rationally is absurd.

He may not have been trying to kill Peter, he could've been trying to make more of a scene of his entry, so Peter would take him more seriously and tell him where Spider-Man was. He could've been thinking of it as a risk of killing Peter though, but his arms made him go crazy.

This is only a theory. Theories never resolve mistakes.

It's not a theory. When Otto is first giving his demonstration to everybody at his apartment, a woman asks if the advanced AI for the tentacles would make him susceptible to being controlled. Otto says that yes it would so he shows everybody the inhibitor chip that he designed so he would not fall under its control. After the inhibitor chip gets destroyed, it's seen that the tentacles have not only taken control of his mind by forcing him to commit crimes, but have slowly driven him insane.

This scene is much too confusing for many people. This entry is correct. This is a mistake.

If these tentacles wanted him to finish the experiment then they wouldn't make him kill the person who has valuable information for him.

The arms are influencing his thoughts but not controlling every part of him. Doc Ock still seems to have control when defending himself but they seem to work in tandem with Ock. The only time they work on their own is when he under anesthetic. As we don't see him before he throws the car, we can only speculate the arms were trying to hurt Peter by themselves.

Lummie Premium member

It's a cool scene regardless man.

Rob245

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Charlie's Angels picture

Plot hole: In the Redstar mainframe, we are told that the floor of the vault will trigger the alarm if it receives more than 0.25 seconds of contact (apparently even with the security checks). What would be the point of the bosses going through all of those security measures if they would just set the alarm off anyway? Surely once the girls have faked the fingerprint and retina scans, they don't then need to flip across the floor! (00:33:55)

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Midnight Run picture

Plot hole: At the end of the film Mardukas reveals that he has been wearing a body belt packed with cash - "in the neighbourhood of three hundred thousand dollars" - ever since Jack detained him in New York. Are we to assume that Jack Walsh, an experienced, hard-bitten ex-police officer, now a bounty hunter who routinely chases down violent and armed bail absconders who would kill him without a second thought, didn't even perform a perfunctory search of Mardukas when he detained him? This man used to work for the Mafia! What if he was carrying a weapon? A body belt with three hundred one thousand dollar bills in it would be uncovered by even the most casual pat down.

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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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Law Abiding Citizen picture

Plot hole: Inmediately after Jamie Foxx finds the bomb in the city hall, and he says, "We don't tell the mayor anything", we see Gerard Butler arriving to his property next to the prison, and finally he enters his jail cell. So, in the time between Gerard Butler's arrival to the property and his entrance to the jail cell, Jamie Foxx thought about a plan, picked up the bomb, passed through the traffic and security checkpoints, talked to the warden to get access to the prison, entered solitary, handcuffed the bomb, and still had time to wait for Gerard Butler's arrival.

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Body Heat picture

Plot hole: Considering the incredibly elaborate plans Maddy makes to have her husband murdered after forging a will she knows is invalid so he dies intestate and she - as his widow - gets his entire fortune, you'd think she would have worked out one little fact - Edmund Walker does not die intestate. It is established in the film that the dud will supposedly written by Ned Racine replaces a previous, valid will which bequeaths half his fortune to his niece Heather. When the new will is declared invalid under Florida law the previous will takes precedence and Heather and Maddy split the fortune. In no way will Maddy get the lot.

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