3Everything Important Happens to Just a Few People (For No Goddamn Reason)
You only need to give your protagonist the flimsiest excuse to get involved in the exact same plot over and over again. Dan Brown knew that. In fact, he knew it so hard that when he realized no academic field focused on the crackpot conspiracy theories, strike force commanding, word puzzles and Double Dare that his plot commanded, he gave his character a Ph.D. in symbology, a field he made up.
Another word puzzle! Shoot it!
James Bond is a Special Agent, so it makes sense that he's constantly shooting people and getting laid. Rocky slurs his words, and can take a punch because he's from Philadelphia. The point is you don't have to work very hard, or even be particularly talented, to justify making your hero the center of any number of formulaic plots.
The Star Wars universe encompasses hundreds of planets, spreading thousands of diverse species and cultures across billions of galactic citizens. And yet, everything important that's ever occurred happens to a few dozen people. At least George Lucas was smart enough (it took us an hour before our hands would stop refusing to type those five words) to base the series around a quasi-mystical Force, thus making the franchise the easiest thing to retcon into coherence since The Old Testament.
The same can't be said for the Jaws franchise, in which completely different, giant man-eating sharks repeatedly show up off the coast of the small island of Amity. When you stop to consider how rare giant serial killer sharks are, it's not surprising that the entire B plot of Jaws 2 revolves around Brody trying to convince the Mayor that he's not crazy. In fact, by the fourth film, when a shark eats Sean Brody in Amity Harbor and then follows Sheriff Brody's wife to the Bahamas, the series actually makes more sense as the delusions of a family with a very specific type of schizophrenia.
But in the category of "same shit, same guy, no explanation" nobody can hold a lighter to John McClane. Over the course of the four Die Hard films, we're asked to believe that McClane stumbles into the middle of four separate heists that are retarded for exactly the same reason. Each time, a team of armed bad guys try to steal large sums of money while pretending to commit the far worse crime of terrorism. In the real world, thieves generally don't like attracting attention. It's why bank robbers threaten to shoot the first teller to push the alarm, and why subway pickpockets subtly bump into the guy who's wallet they're trying to swipe, rather than raping him.
Only lap dances qualify as successful "hump-robbery."
But McClane's life is like a parade of explosion-themed heists. With each movie, the "fake terrorism distractions" escalate from an office Christmas party, an international airport, New York City, and finally the entire goddamn country. By the third film, when Samuel L. Jackson suggests that the guys who just blew up a good portion of New York City might be terrorists, McClane quickly assures him, "I know the man, I know the family. The only thing better than blowing up 100-billion dollars worth of gold is making people think you did." The villain, you see, is Hans Gruber's brother, and in John McClane's universe, the idea of attracting attention in order to commit robbery is not only logical, it's also hereditary.
2Hey, Just The ___ I Was Looking For!
Hoosiers wouldn't have been as good if Gene Hackman had, say, simply overheard the opposing coaches game plan before every game. But Hollywood repeatedly gambles enormous blockbuster budgets that we'll want to watch someone trip dick first into the exact thing they were looking for.
Harry Potter is supposed to be some sort of predestined messiah wizard, but his greatest survival skill is bumbling around in the dark and accidentally overhearing information that will come in handy later on. And if he and his friends are attacked by a monster, you can be sure they learned its weaknesses in class last week.
"Check it out guys, more apparently useless trivia we should memorize."
Probably the best example comes in Goblet of Fire, when Harry Slumdog Millionaire's his way through a challenge that's billed as the ultimate test of his wizardry skills. Yet, every challenge he faces is based on something he or some other character learned at some point in the film. While this isn't exactly a logical flaw, it's certainly a trick. They tell you you're going to see a movie about the best wizard ever, when in actuality you're going to see some kid remember shit that was conveniently explained to him last week.
The hugely successful Bond reboot Casino Royale was guilty of the same lottery switcheroo. James Bond has to bankrupt a villain by beating him in a game of Texas Hold 'Em (apparently the game of choice for sophisticated British gentlemen.) In the final showdown, the two superfluous characters have a flush and a full house, the bad guy has a better full house and looks confident in his win. But then Bond is dealt a straight flush, the absolute perfect hand at that moment.
For those not familiar with poker, the odds of all that happening in one hand are pretty damn low, one in 158,551,976 to be precise. It's supposed to show us what a suave badass we're dealing with, but if the film had a stray bolt of lightning come through the casino walls and strike the villain dead, it would have been just as unlikely, and required as much secret agent-ing as Bond's once in a lifetime hand. Why not have him gamble on a terrible hand and still pull out the win? Better yet, have him lose the last hand but then shoot the bad guy in the face before uttering some sort of gambling related quip.
"I see your pair and raise you... three bullets in your face."
Star Wars: Attack of the Clones is another film that equates spying with Brad Pitt-winning-the-lottery good luck. Obi-Wan is crawling around through some caverns, and overhears a couple of the villains talking about exactly what he needed to find out. While it's true that Obi-Wan is actively trying to get info instead of wandering around (like some sort of a wizard) the bad guys are telling each other things they should logically already know. Actually, that brings us to ...