3Oliver and Cheryl Lang from Arlington Road
Like most terrorists you hear about on the news, Tim Robbins and Joan Cusak are a white middle-class couple who travel from town to town framing people for blowing up federal buildings.
For some reason, the first step in their plan is to get their neighbor Jeff Bridges to suspect that they're terrorists. So they drop subtle clues only Bridges will notice like leaving suspicious blueprints out when he comes by the house, and blowing their 12-year-old son's hand off.
Apparently the idea is that no one's going to believe the likable Jeff Bridges when he accuses typecast creep Robbins and his cold unattractive wife of anything untoward. And for some reason, that's exactly the brick wall of anti-logic he runs into every time he tries to point out that the couple next door are so obviously terrorists.
Why would anyone believe Bridges? He's just a college professor. Who teaches a course on domestic terrorism.
Robbins never explains what the sodomy has to do with anything
Somehow, the plan works. Bridges plays into their hands and follows a confusing trail of clues right up to the building they want him to blow up. It's a terror plot in the sense that going to Vegas and putting your life savings on the same number 10 times in a row is a financial investment strategy.
If you think we're being nit-picky here, don't just take our word for it. Roger Ebert wants some fucking answers too:
"How can anyone, even skilled conspirators, predict with perfect accuracy the outcome of a car crash? How can they know in advance that a man will go to a certain pay phone at a certain time, so that he can see a particular truck he needs to see? How can the actions of security guards be accurately anticipated? Isn't it risky to hinge an entire plan of action on the hope that the police won't stop a car speeding recklessly through a downtown area?"
He may look like an old lesbian, but Ebert has very little patience for bullshit terrorism.
Why It Failed:
Well, in a sense it doesn't. The whole thing goes off without a hitch. In another sense: What's the point of framing a college professor for your act of terrorism? Aren't terrorists supposed to have some reason they're blowing stuff up? A political reason maybe?
We're left to conclude that the terrorists in Arlington Road are fighting for the twin causes of awesome explosions and asinine twist endings. Mission accomplished, brothers.
2Marine Brigadier General Francis X. Hummel from The Rock
In a nod to real events following the first Iraq War, Ed Harris is a Desert Storm vet who's been screwed over by the government for the last time, and sets out to get his just desserts with an operation he totally should have called "Just Desserts Storm."
And just like the real vets who tried to raise public awareness by staging protests and lobbying their representatives in Congress, Harris and his men ... steal missiles full of nerve gas, take all the tourists on Alcatraz hostage, and then threaten to kill every man woman and child in the city of San Francisco unless the US makes with some cash.
Fear not henchmen, Harris has thought this one through. As he explains to his men, "A couple of hundred years ago, a few guys called Washington, Jefferson and Adams were branded as traitors by the British, and now they're called patriots. In time so shall we."
For some reason, none of his men raise their hand here to point out that his plan involves killing a city full of innocent Americans. Or that this will probably be significantly less popular with Americans than the Revolutionary War. Or that you'd probably have a better chance of being called a patriot if you just waited for Ronald Reagan to die, jumped atop his coffin while Nancy was paying her final respects and turkey slapped her across the face.
Mr. Harris of course doesn't need to worry about long-term public perception since his plan unravels long before that. To begin with, it's all an elaborate bluff. Apparently his plan was to give the military a stern talking to, make a bunch of loud noise, get paid money, escape from Alcatraz and presumably ride a unicorn to Never Neverland.
If that second to last phase of the operation, escape from Alcatraz, sounds familiar its because they made an entire movie about the only people who ever did it successfully. The Rock implies Alcatraz is a good place to be when you're threatening the US military because it used to be the site of a military base, but as General Harris would know, the military gave up on using it as a base because it's a tiny shitty island in the middle of a bunch of cold shitty water. It's a great place to stick people you never want to see again, and an awful place to do absolutely anything else.
Why It Failed:
First of all, there are way too many things to keep track of: Invading black-ops teams, hostages, deadly tear gas, the wild card duo of Cage and Connery who are just hilariously mismatched enough to get the job done.
Adding insult to injury, all Harris had to do was wait a few years until the US government got involved in an unpopular sequel to Desert Storm, become an independent contractor and hold them hostage with ridiculous hourly rates.