Factual error: In circling over Washington Dulles, a plane would fly over several airports that they could land at with perfect communication, including Richmond, Baltimore, Andrews AFB, etc. Also, there is no communication from the airport to the plane but the plane would be in range of no fewer than 15 transmitting stations that could have relayed messages.
Factual error: When McClane is trapped in the cockpit of Esperanza's plane, and the terrorists throw grenades in, it sure takes them a long time to explode. At least a good 20 seconds passes before he ejects from the plane and the grenades go off. Normal grenades would have gone off long before 20 seconds.
Continuity mistake: 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.
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 was impossible at the time. 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 mistake: 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: 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 mistake: When Mclane is desperately trying to get his fallen Beretta from the conveyor, he flicks the on switch to the conveyor. The terrorist then sprints down the conveyor to try and get the gun before Mclane, and you can see in the first shot of the terrorist running, that he is virtually at the gun immediately. The camera cuts to Mclane, and then back to the terrorist who is now significantly further away from the gun than he was before.
Continuity mistake: 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: At the end when John lights the fuel with a lighter, this isn't possible with Jet A-1 which is what the Boeing 747 is fuelled with. This type of fuel is extremely hard to light. Even if you drop a match into a bowl of jet A-1, it will not ignite. Jet A-1 has to be compressed or have its temperature raised to a minimum of 38c/100f in order to ignite (which the compressing also does) so fuel in snow would never ignite in the way shown.
Continuity mistake: 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.
Continuity mistake: After McClane gets the car towed away, notice that it is night and snowstorming all over the place. When he enters the airport, you can see that outside it is daytime and sunny, yet McClane shakes off snow whereas other people in the airport don't have snow on them at all. The airport scenes were filmed at LAX's Bradley International Terminal during the month of February, so this explains the sunny day.
Continuity mistake: The dead bodies of the SWAT team move around on the escalator between shots. The best example of this is after the last SWAT guy dies, there is a body or two near the end of the escalator. They disappear or at least move much further away after McClane drops his gun on the escalator. And all this happens while the escalator is not moving.
00:45:15 - 00:48:00Daz
Plot hole: At the beginning of the film, it is still daylight, which at Christmas, would mean it's about 4:30pm at the latest. The whole incident of the film lasts around 4 hours (figured by the scene when Barnes was talking to the planes and said the trouble started around 2 hours ago coupled with the fact that not long before that, Trudeau confimed that Holly's plane had only 90 minutes worth of fuel left). So why at the very end are there shots where it appears the the sun is rising in the distance? (And no, it's not caused by the fire of the exploded plane. By that reckoning, the terroists would have had to have taken over the airport well after midnight, which is pretty much impossible since Esperanza's plane was already on route.)
Revealing mistake: Throughout the whole movie, you can see bits of 'snow' stuck to various things in close up view (i.e. guns, hair, faces, clothing). Look closely at the snow, its painfully obvious that they are little thin scraps of white plastic. Most evident is in McClane's hair when the platoon is about to move in on the church, the shot of him saying "You're not such an asshole, after all."
Factual error: The plane from which Bruce Willis escapes by using an ejector seat is a non-existing plane. The fuselage is from an old transport plane from the US Air Force made by Chase. But there has never been a Chase with 4 engines buried in the wing. America uses underslung engines. In this case, it is the wing of an Arado Blitz prototype from the second world war and the fuselage of a Chase cargo plane.
Continuity mistake: When McClane is desperately trying to get out of the manhole cover to avoid the plane, he props it open with a steel bar. Moments later, just before the plane runs over it, the bar is gone, so there should be nothing holding it open. The size of the gap between cover and runway also decreases between these shots.
Deliberate mistake: When the terrorists shoot a man in the church and he falls on his back, both benches behind him topple (in the shot from the ceiling of the church). You can't see that the benches are connected and even if they were, the bench he doesn't actually touch wouldn't topple.
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.
Continuity mistake: John McClane and Major Grant are fighting on the wing of the aeroplane, and Major Grant's mouth gets extremely bloody. The shot switches to McClane and then back to Grant, whose mouth is still bloody. However, after the shot switches back from McClane to Grant, Grant's mouth is no longer bloody.
Factual error: When the terrorist clears the nearly fuel-exhausted plane to land on the lowered ILS, the terrorist says, "Windsor 114, you are cleared to land on Dulles Runway 29, ILS." Problem is: There is no Runway 29 at Dulles. The closest runway alignment for a 290 degree heading is Runway 30.
Deliberate mistake: After recovering a pistol from a slain baddie, John McClane explains to airport security that it's a "Glock 7" (in actuality a Glock 17) and says that it's made of porcelain that makes it "undetectable by X-ray." Excusing the fact that not only Glock, but no major firearms company has ever mass-produced such a weapon due to functionality issues, it doesn't change that the ammunition would still be visible on X-ray. The armorer for the production team pointed these facts out on set and tried to convince them to change this detail, but they filmed it with these mistakes anyway.
Add timeAlex Montenegro
Plot hole: The whole of Col. Stuart's plot to free General Esperanza and flee to a country with no US extradition laws would be rather impossible, as the plane with Esperanza and the terrorists would have been brought down by US Air Force long before reaching international waters, especially given the fact that they would not maintain control over the airport landing systems after taking off.
Add timeIgor Babichev
Factual error: Shortly after the terrorists first start taking over the airport, the airport's chief engineer is shown scurrying about with an E6B flight computer in his hands. The E6B is a mechanical device, usually made out of aluminium, that is similar to a old-style slide rule. But it is used only by pilots to calculate things like course corrections due to winds - there is absolutely no reason that an airport chief engineer would carry one on the ground, especially in a time of crisis. Plus the mechanical E6B, even by 1990, had largely been replaced by electronic calculator type E6Bs by the airlines and even many private pilots.
Continuity mistake: Two guys dressed in red go to the church and are let in by the old man. One of the men then says something like "You were right about that," and the scene shows him shoot his gun with his arm outstretched (obviously). The next scene though of the old man falling backwards shows the shooter's arm down by his side, however in the next scene where it cuts back to the shooter his arm is outstretched with the gun again.
Factual error: Bruce is sitting in what looks like a C-130 while terrorists throw grenades in it through the window. Never mind the grenades going off too late, because they wouldn't all have made it through the small window anyway. In fact some of those grenades would've bounced back killing the terrorists also, which would've made for a surprising end to this movie.
Factual error: When the bad guys 747 is blown up it is about 40 or 50 metres off the ground and travelling at take-off velocity, yet when Holly's plane is landing you can see that the debris field is perfectly circular. Surely the 747s speed and angle of descent would mean the debris field would be elongated?
Factual error: Several runway numbers are mentioned in the movie: runway 10, 15, 25 right and 25 left. Runway 25 means course 250. The opposite end would then be Runway 7 (course 70). It would be unusual for an airport to have runways running course 70, 100 and 150, as that is way too close. And Dulles certainly does not. In the church occupied by the terrorists, the radar display (the upright one with the circular LED pattern, not a scope) shows the runway configuration of Las Vegas McCarran airport, not that of Washington Dulles airport. McCarran does have runways 25R and 25L, which are mentioned in the film.
Add timeJacob La Cour
Continuity mistake: In the beginning of the film when two of Stuart's men arrive at the church, their van stops and it is not snowing outside,same thing when they're shown knocking and then when the man opens the door. However, in the shot just after (which is taken from behind the door) snow is falling on them. The shot then switches to an outside view ,and it's not snowing anymore .
Audio problem: In the climactic scene where the 747 is taking off, the general applies full power on the throttles and the engines spool up to full power as they should. However, in the next shot from the cockpit, the general is pulling back on the yoke, nobody's hands are on the throttles at all, and yet we hear a second (apparently) identical increase in engine power. Pulling back on the yoke has nothing at all to do with the engines - the noise we hear should remain at a constant level.
Factual error: When the 747 explodes, fire is rushing up through the cargo hold. Esperanza - in the cockpit - looks back over his shoulder as if seeing the fire coming. Clearly he can't see the fire - since the view we are seeing is inside the cargo hold and cabin. But why is he then turning his head and looking back against the cockpit wall? And the flash we see on his face - from the explosion - that would not be there until the fire was inside the cockpit. And that would go so fast that he wouldn't have time to scream.
01:50:35Jacob La Cour
Plot hole: Right before The Windsor flight crashes, the stewardess tells two passengers that they've made arrangements so they would make their next flight. Obviously this could only be done with communication with the ground. If they had sky phones the tower would have called them to warn what was happening.
Add timeMichael Prete
Continuity mistake: While Barnes is brainstorming ideas with his staff about using the marker beacons to communicate with the circling planes, he has a pen in his right hand held to his face. The next shot he turns, but the pen is no longer in his hand and his hand is nowhere near his face.
Continuity mistake: When McClane lights the torches on the runway he is surrounded by rough snow, then the long shot shows a smooth runway in the snow, then when the plane crashes the pilots see the tarmac with no snow, then the outside shot of the plane crashing shows the runway covered with snow again.
Revealing mistake: When the army guy opens the door on the 747 to climb out onto the wing, the outside door handle does not move and looks painted on. When the second guy re-enters the plane and shuts the same door, there is no locking mechanism shown on the sides of the door; it simply pushes open.
Continuity mistake: Col. Stewart asks if the 747 is ready and says he wants ground personnel to inspect the plane. Maj. Grant intercedes and tells Stewart to check out his own plane so not to have potential hostages (which, of course was a ploy). When the hanger door is opened, you see ground personnel running back and forth between the door. They are noticeable by their orange vests.
01:33:45 - 01:35:40
Factual error: In the tower, Leslie Barnes and a few men are talking about the Annex Skywalk, mentioning that it is a "VHF System." Barnes says the planes are so close it won't matter. VHF, or Very High Frequency, transmits far distances, hence why it is used by airports around the world. He should have said "UHF", which transmits shorter distances, as that would make more sense.
Factual error: The chase scene involving the snowmobiles is problematic in that McClane can actually see where he's going. In driving snow, it's often difficult to see, as snow blows in one's eyes. On a speeding snowmobile, in heavy snow and with no eye protection, it would be practically impossible to see anything.
Factual error: When McClane lights the fuel with the zippo, the flame trail is all wrong. There appears to be a thin strip of fuel which accelerates away from him. However, we have seen the Fuel spurted out in a wider less controlled manner from a wing tip that has to be at least fifteen feet up, in a wind, which would have sprayed it around further. There is no way it would light in the tight manner shown.
Deliberate mistake: At the very end, John McClane lights the fuel trail which subsequently engulfs the plane. To do this, he tosses a lighter onto the trail which begins six inches from where he lies, having fallen from the wing while pulling the lock off the fuel dumper. Trouble is, the fuel began flooding out at the same time he fell, and the velocity would carry him some distance forward on the ground after he lands (which it visibly does); hence, it is physically impossible for him to be in the position he is in relation to the fuel.
Plot hole: When McClane gets kicked out of the control tower and is sent down in the elevator with Coleman he quite obviously stops the elevator before saying "Here's a couple of words, F**k off." to Coleman. He then opens the top panel and climbs out WITHOUT restarting the elevator. Almost as soon as he has closed the panel again the elevator has reached the bottom and the cops are asking "Where's the other one?" As it is meant to be a single shot and there is no delay we know Coleman did not start the elevator again herself.
Continuity mistake: In the airport lobby, when the two policemen come at the bar they have "snow" all over their clothes. In the next shot they are shown from behind sitting at the bar and Lorenzo's brother has no snow on his jacket. Seconds after Mc Clane comes to talk to them and the cop has snow on his shoulders again.
Factual error: At the end of the movie, all of the planes come in to land by the fire. However, the planes are far, FAR closer than any large aircraft would land to each other. FAA regulations would have the aircraft about 5 miles away from each other. If they're landing this close due to "emergency", there would be wicked wake turbulence at such close distances.
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