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Movie villains, even the ones portrayed as master criminal geniuses, usually spend the movie making incredibly stupid mistakes (accidental or otherwise). So you can almost make a game out of it: The second time you watch any movie involving a supposed criminal mastermind, just imagine how his plan would have gone had the hero not showed up at all.

Because more often than not, you'll realize that his genius scheme would have fallen apart all on its own. What do we mean? Well...

Die Hard -- Hans Gruber's Escape Plan is Terribly Inadequate

The scheme:

Hans Gruber and his gang of sweater-wearing European dance models lay siege to Nakatomi Plaza, posing as terrorists to conceal their true purpose, which is to steal $640 million in bearer bonds from the building's vault. Once the vault is cracked, Hans plans to send all of the hostages to the roof and blow them up, anticipating that the resulting pile of bodies will be too dense for the authorities to discover that his own corpse isn't among them.

Then, Hans and his gang intend to load the bearer bonds into a fake ambulance, blending into the chaos of emergency vehicles and allowing them to escape undetected.

"I almost brought a school bus, but what idiot would try to flee a robbery in one of those?"

But wait a second ...

Every single step of Hans' escape plan is so terribly flawed that, had Bruce Willis not kicked him through a 40th story window, he and his henchmen would have been arrested before their ambulance even made it to the first stoplight.

First of all, Hans begins the evening with 13 henchmen. Take another look at their escape van:

"Some lap sitting will be necessary."

How the hell is he planning on fitting 13 grown men in that thing? Let alone the stacks of bearer bonds they came to collect, which, we are shown, require several duffel bags and a hand cart to transport:

"Nobody ate this morning, right?"

There's also the matter of actually exiting the parking garage. We see Hans and his men lock the gates, which is what traps Argyle the limo driver inside for the entire movie. Argyle only gets out because he finally decides to crash his limo into one of the exits:

It took him two hours to figure this out.

When the FBI shows up, they cut the power to the building, meaning the electronic gates in the garage are now frozen in place. Hans would have to plow his ambulance through the bars just like Argyle in order to leave, and we're willing to bet one of the 100 or so cops on the scene would notice something like that.

Even if he manages to get out of the building, Hans is far from home free. The whole point of the terrorist song and dance he feeds the FBI is to disguise the fact that he's really just a bank robber. According to his plan, blowing up the roof will lead everyone to believe that he and his extremist buddies detonated themselves and their hostages, because that's the kind of silly bullshit that terrorists do. However, the bomb doesn't destroy the vault, and Hans never intended it to. Meaning he purposely left a giant, empty safe hanging open for the authorities to find.

"... just leave a note saying it was like that when we got here."

It won't take them too long to identify the charred bodies, particularly when they already know exactly how many hostages were in the building. When the FBI realizes their count is short a few terrorists and about half-a-billion dollars, they're going to know that Hans took that fucking money. At best, he's bought himself an extra week, and then Interpol is going to burst into his Majorcan hotel room and drag him out through the lobby in his bathrobe.

Les Miserables -- The Most Recognizable Authority Figure in Paris Tries to Go Undercover

The scheme:

The bad guy in Les Miserables is Inspector Javert, played by Russell Crowe. His grand evil scheme, as revealed in song over the course of the film's 26-hour run time, is to embark on an undercover mission to infiltrate a group of student revolutionaries who are in the midst of staging a bloody uprising in Paris.

So, disguised as a 19th century longshoreman for some reason, Russell Crowe joins the rebels and offers to spy on a battalion of government troops assembling in the city. When he returns, he tells them that the soldiers aren't planning to attack that night, which is, of course, a festering pile of duplicitous horseshit. When the soldiers totally do attack that night, he will rejoin with them and take the rebels by surprise, killing anyone who resists and taking the rest to jail.

Russell Crowe's singing, however, is a prison all its own.

But wait a second ...

Crowe/Javert is easily the most feared and recognized lawman in the city, probably in all of France. He can't just pop his collar and throw on a watch cap and tell people his name is Prickly Pierre.

We see Javert on patrol in an earlier scene, strutting through the slums in full uniform and singing about how awesome his job is to anyone within earshot. Dozens of people cower away from him, nervously muttering his name in hushed tones. They clearly know exactly who he is, even though, as you may have noticed, his uniform does not have a name tag. This is way before television and the Internet, so that means Javert has one hell of a reputation.


OK, you say, but maybe Javert knew he was unknown among this particular group of rebellious kids. Nope! Two of the lead revolutionaries, Marius and Eponine, are present during this scene. (Eponine even shouts "It's Javert!" when he arrives.) So it's kind of a miracle his cover isn't blown five seconds after he approaches the rebel barricade.

And the thing is, it isn't even necessary for Javert to be the one to go undercover -- it's a pretty simple assignment. Literally all he does is help them lift a few boards, then says, "I'll go spy on the government" and disappears. Surely this task could have been delegated to someone other than the most famous policeman in France. That's like Robocop putting on heels and trying to stage a prostitution sting.

But Javert does it himself, and, unsurprisingly, he gets recognized the instant one of the rebels gets a good look at his face.

"... merde ..."

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Blade -- Deacon Frost Wants to Turn Mankind into Vampires (Cutting off His Food Supply)

The scheme:

In the first film of the Wesley Snipes kung fu vampire franchise, Deacon Frost, an evil vampire lord that refuses to button his shirt, is a member of the Shadow Council, an ancient group of throat biters who believe that vampires should coexist with humans. However, Frost doesn't agree with that viewpoint, so he launches an evil scheme that involves performing a ritual to turn everyone on Earth into vampires, because Daybreakers hadn't come out yet to show him what a shitty idea that is.

And he looks like a man that knows a thing or two about shitty ideas.

But wait a second ...

If everyone on the planet is a vampire, what the hell are they going to eat?

The film establishes that vampires specifically need human blood to survive, because their own blood can't sustain hemoglobin and no other type of blood is a close enough match. That means they literally can't eat anything else -- they can't feed on each other, and they can't just get a table at Sizzler once there are no more humans around.

The Shadow Council doesn't coexist with humans because centuries of life has turned them into a bunch of peace-loving hippies. They do it because vampires depend on human beings for their very survival, and humans are capable of organizing a substantial resistance. If cows suddenly developed the ability to burst into our homes while we were sleeping and hammer splintery wooden daggers into our chests, we would probably have to negotiate a more careful relationship with them, too.

It's actually just an elaborate scheme to promote veganism.

Also, vampires are immortal. Frost and his henchmen can't treat the issue with an "I'll be dead by then, so who cares?" mentality like global warming or the coming ice age, because they will be around to see it happen. The food supply will gradually decrease as the size of the population remains the same, leaving billions of vampires to die a slow, agonizing death from starvation. You'd think immortals wouldn't have such a short-term view of things.

GoldenEye & Under Siege 2: Dark Territory -- The Villains Make a Fortune on a Terrorist Attack (Which Will Render Their Money Worthless)

The scheme:

1995 saw the release of both GoldenEye and Under Siege 2: Dark Territory, one of which marked James Bond's return to the screen after a long absence, while the other marked Steven Seagal's return to the screen after eating an entire pan of baked macaroni at Piccadilly Cafeteria. Both films feature a villain planning to launch a terrorist strike with computers and a satellite, adding more fuel to the long-standing belief that Hollywood doesn't completely understand how either of those things work.

In Under Siege 2, Travis Dane is paid $1 billion by Middle Eastern terrorists to hijack a military satellite particle weapon and fire it at a nuclear reactor hidden beneath the Pentagon, triggering an explosion that will wipe out the entire eastern seaboard. He intends to do this with a CD-ROM.

No, seriously.

In GoldenEye, Alec Trevelyan aims to hack into the Bank of England and steal all their funds electronically. Immediately afterward, he will use the GoldenEye satellite to send an electromagnetic pulse through London, erasing all of their financial records and sending the country into chaos (and neatly covering his theft, to boot).

"OK, Nightcrawler, put in the CD-ROM."

But wait a second ...

In both movies, the villains are getting paid in the currency of a nation whose economy is about to be completely annihilated by their actions, effectively reducing their ill-gotten fortunes to valueless stacks of colorful paper.

Dane's plan to nuke Washington, D.C. would instantly vaporize most of the government and leave a third of the United States totally uninhabitable. It is safe to assume that the value of the dollar would take a catastrophic plunge, much like Steven Seagal himself in Executive Decision. Now this makes sense from the point of view of the terrorists who hired Dane -- they just want to see the US destroyed. But Dane is getting paid in the currency he's about to render useless -- when the money is transferred to his account, you can clearly see that he's getting tossed one billion American dollars to destroy the only nation capable of honoring their value:

His lack of foresight is apparently deafening.

Alec Trevelyan makes the same mistake. It does no good to loot the Bank of England if you're going to erase Great Britain's entire financial history 30 minutes later. It's going to be difficult to convince people to deal in pounds sterling if there's no record of the damnn things being worth anything. That's like stealing a bunch of Picasso paintings and then Men-In-Black-ing Picasso from everyone's memory.

We suppose Trevelyan could delay phase two of his plan long enough to take his stolen money to a currency exchange, but coming in with a sum large enough to maintain the Crown would probably raise a few eyebrows (and Politburo alarms). No matter how you look at it, he's coming out of this broke.

"Before I kill you, James, I'm really gonna need that 20 bucks you owe me."

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Ferris Bueller's Day Off -- Mr. Rooney Tries to Nail Ferris on an Excused Absence

The scheme:

Edward Rooney, the most vindictive high school principal in history outside of Ernie Hudson in The Substitute, has made it his mission to bust Ferris Bueller, a wormy egocentric teenager who spends the entire movie smiling disingenuously and dressing like Tommy Davidson. After Ferris fakes an illness to skip school for a day, Rooney decides to put every single one of his duties as an educator aside and leaves his office to go searching for him, obsessed with catching Ferris in the act so he can use it as evidence to prevent him from graduating. Although if Rooney hates him so much, we're curious as to why he'd want to keep him around for another year.

Not to mention the fact that Ferris is clearly 24 years old.

But wait a second ...

Ferris' absence from school was excused by his parents, which means Rooney can't do a goddamned thing about it.

When Ferris doesn't show up for class, Rooney immediately calls his mother, who confirms that Ferris is home sick for the day. And that, right there, should have been the end of it. Rooney's role in the situation has been completely eliminated. The school can't punish Ferris for an excused absence any more than Tom Hanks can slap Helen Hunt for getting remarried at the end of Cast Away after she thought he was dead for four years.

It doesn't matter if Rooney had been downtown to personally witness Ferris singing "Twist and Shout" on a parade float -- neither he nor the school has any legal right to take action. Hell, Ferris could walk right into Rooney's office and hand him a burrito. He literally can't do shit.


Sure, Rooney could call Ferris' parents and explain his concerns, particularly in the event of that burrito scenario. He could arrange a parent-teacher conference with the Buellers to discuss Ferris' numerous suspicious absences. But as far as punishing Ferris himself, Rooney's hands are tied.

So he breaks into the Bueller home instead.

Superman Returns -- Lex Luthor Wants a Monopoly on Uninhabitable Real Estate

The Scheme:

Despite his reputation as one of the most diabolical geniuses in comic book history, the scope of Lex Luthor's cinematic scheming is apparently limited to elaborate real estate scams. In the original Superman, Luthor's plan was to fire a nuclear missile at the San Andreas Fault and sink California into the ocean, transforming some desert land in Arizona he'd just purchased on the cheap into million-dollar beachfront property.

In Superman Returns, Luthor creates a large Kryptonite-filled landmass in the North Atlantic Ocean, because that is apparently something you can do. The Kryptonite will eventually raise sea levels high enough to much of the world, allowing Luthor to live like a king on his own private island and charge a fortune to any survivors rich enough to purchase land from him.

It is a plan that radiates as much brilliance as the man who concocted it.

But wait a second ...

Luthor's doomsday-triggering paradise is a radioactive chunk of jagged sterile rock.

It would take a seriously compelling infomercial to sell even a photograph of this shithole.

The island is a barren gray wasteland completely incapable of sustaining life. Luthor himself would probably jump off the highest point of its dagger-toothed skyline after living there for a week. And just because Kryptonite is Superman's specific weakness doesn't mean it's harmless for regular humans. Kryptonite is an intensely radioactive substance, and building a house on a continent made of the stuff would be the same as unrolling a sleeping bag atop an exposed uranium core. This may be a comic book movie, but unless you're the main character, the only super power you're getting from radiation is cancer.

And this also brings to mind the problem with GoldenEye and Under Siege 2 earlier: What currency is Luthor planning on dealing in once the entire world is drowned by his floating toxic shit brick? Is he going to print a bunch of LuthorBucks to distribute among the survivors? He intends to become a billionaire by completely destroying the infrastructure that wealth requires to exist.

And even if the land did become valuable, what's to stop the first army that comes along from just taking it from him? He seems to think he can defend his claim to the only dry bit of land left in the entire world with a cartoon gangster overcoat and three--three--henchmen.

One of whom is Kumar.

His plan's best case scenario is he becomes king of a radioactive graveyard, trying to sell people real estate for billions of dollars that he cannot possibly spend.

Robin Warder is the co-owner of a pop culture website called The Back Row.

For more ridiculous acts of villainy, check out The 6 Most Pointlessly Elaborate Movie Murder Plots and The 6 Most Pointless Supervillain Schemes Ever Hatched.

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