#2. The Fugitive -- The Bad Guy Helps Harrison Ford Figure Out That He's ... Well, the Bad Guy
In The Fugitive, Dr. Charles Nichols is a high-ranking employee at a pharmaceutical company currently developing a new wonder drug. When Dr. Richard Kimble (Harrison Ford) finds out that the drug causes liver damage, Nichols sends a one-armed killer to murder him, but he winds up killing Kimble's wife instead. This works out for the best, though, since Kimble is wrongly convicted of his wife's murder and sent to death row. All Nichols has to do now is sit back and wait for Kimble to fry.
Or get frozen in carbonite, depending on state law.
How He Tried to Screw It Up:
When Kimble escapes custody and becomes a fugitive, he asks Nichols for help, since he still thinks of him as a friend. Instead of saying, "Yeah, sure thing, buddy, why don't you step into the guest room and have a nap?" and then calling the cops, Nichols ends up serving him the evidence of the conspiracy on a silver platter.
More specifically, Nichols sends Kimble to obtain incriminating tissue samples, even though they contain evidence that he himself was involved in the coverup. This, along with the fact that every lab member turns out to be inexplicably eager to help out a convicted murderer, allows Kimble to clear his name.
Jane Lynch has always had a thing for bad boys.
Kimble finds out that the tissue samples were fudged to cover up the whole "kills your liver" thing, and since half of the samples had been approved by a guy who was recently murdered, it was obvious that his signature had been forged by the only other person who had access. Namely, Dr. Charles Nichols. Both Kimble and the cops reach the same conclusion.
Instead of sending Kimble to the lab to collect the samples, Nichols could have volunteered to get them himself, which would have made sense from Kimble's perspective, since he was a wanted fugitive.
Or how about "Sorry dude, helping fugitives is a crime"?
Also, not to discriminate against people with disabilities or anything, but is a guy with only one arm really the most effective and least conspicuous-looking hired killer he could find? Did Nichols hire him over the phone, and then didn't want to say anything for fear of being rude? Maybe that's what happened with Kimble, too. Nichols didn't want to help him figure out the conspiracy, but just couldn't say no to a pal.
#1. Die Hard With a Vengeance -- Simon Gruber Stages an Elaborate Con, Immediately Tries to Ruin It
Simon Gruber, the brother of the original Die Hard villain, Hans Gruber, wants revenge on John McClane for dropping Hans' ass out of a 32nd floor window at the end of the first movie. Simon accomplishes this by planting bombs all over New York City, then threatening to set them off if McClane doesn't do exactly what he says. However, this so-called revenge plan actually turns out to be a smokescreen for a clever heist in which Simon rips off the entire gold supply of the New York Federal Reserve Bank.
"Avenge me by stealing lots of gold! Avenge meeeeeee ..."
How He Tried to Screw It Up:
Simon's plan hinges on McClane trying to stop a bomb in a very specific place at a specific time, supposedly as part of the whole revenge trip. However, that's not the first thing Simon forces him to do. Nope, first he sends McClane into Harlem wearing a sign that should get him murdered about 37 times before reaching the first corner.
This is like being dropped in Bel Air with a sign that says "I Hate Golf."
If it wasn't for the unlikely intervention of a local shopkeeper named Zeus (Samuel L. Jackson), McClane would have been killed or seriously injured by a Harlem street gang -- sure, he had a concealed gun strapped to his back for safety, but the first thing the gangsters do is break a bottle on McClane's head and reveal the weapon, which is quickly grabbed by Zeus. Had Zeus not been there, that would have been one of the gang members.
"Please, wait! Haven't you guys ever seen that Chris Rock routine?"
The success of Simon's Federal Reserve heist depends entirely on the authorities believing his fake revenge scheme as a distraction. After the Harlem incident, Simon's next game involves sending McClane across town to chase after a bomb on a subway. When the bomb goes off, no one notices that it has disabled the Federal Reserve Bank's alarm system and given Simon an opening to break into their vault.
It's actually a pretty ingenious plan ... except for the part where Simon almost made McClane a casualty of racially motivated gang violence and ruined everything. Couldn't he have just forced McClane to do something less likely to get himself killed, such as streaking naked through Chelsea?
Considering that McClane only survived the Harlem ordeal because of Zeus' intervention, it actually might have been a neat twist if Zeus had been working for Simon all along and was serving as McClane's protector.
He wanted revenge for his brother, Argyle.
Robin Warder is the co-owner of the pop culture website The Back Row.
For more baffling moves in movies, check out The 5 Most Needlessly Complex Terror Plots in Film History and The 5 Most Needlessly Evil Movie Villain Strategies.
If you're pressed for time and just looking for a quick fix, then check out The 6 Craziest Superman Stories Ever Written (Twice).
And stop by LinkSTORM because the avenues of ruthlessly dissecting movies are endless.
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