In Collateral, Tom Cruise plays a professional hit man who forces a cab driver named Max (Jamie Foxx) to drive him around Los Angeles so that he can assassinate five people throughout the course of one night, because fuck walking. It turns out four of these five targets are witnesses against an evil drug kingpin (Javier Bardem).
"I took a pay cut to do this when they said I could have normal hair."
These witnesses were set to testify before a federal grand jury the very next morning, but unfortunately won't be able to make it anymore, being dead and all. We learn all this information during a scene where the FBI is keeping an eye on Bardem's character.
Which begs us to ask one important question: Why the hell didn't the FBI have any surveillance on the witnesses, too? They had a whole bunch of guys looking at the drug lord all night, but they couldn't get anyone to check up on four people in mortal danger?
"He's watching Real Housewives ... No, Atlanta."
It's like this movie exists in a universe where no one has heard of the concept of witness protection. Seriously, has the FBI never seen an action movie? Even the cops in Sister Act were smarter than these guys. While one of the witnesses is a gangster who has his own set of armed bodyguards, the others are left completely defenseless. Hell, one of them is a jazz musician who is performing in public the night before he's scheduled to testify.
In retrospect, doing a tune called "The Snitching on a Drug Lord Blues" probably wasn't a good idea.
Forget about the fact that the kingpin is obviously powerful enough to get a list of the witnesses and send a hit man after them -- even without that, wouldn't it be a good idea to keep an eye on them in case they get cold feet and decide to skip town or something? One of them is a drug dealer, an occupation not exactly known for being held by the most trustworthy people in the world.
In the end, Max manages to stop the hit man before he kills his last target. Considering how little the FBI seems to care about protecting its witnesses, we're not sure we like Max's chances when his former client eventually comes after him.
In Inside Man, NYPD Detective Frazier (Denzel Washington) has to interrogate a bunch of people who were released from a kidnapping at a bank in order to figure out which ones were the hostages and which ones were actually the robbers, because things got sorta confusing for a moment there. Since the robbers kept their masks on all the time, the detectives only have one good lead to identify them:
Make that two good leads.
It turns out that one of the perpetrators was a dark-haired, big-busted woman. The detectives are quick to point out that there are only two people from the bank who match the physical description ...
... so what do the cops do? They just let the women go and forget about the whole thing. The reason? The conversation got too awkward.
Seriously, the fact that one of these two women is obviously one of the robbers is touched upon exactly once, but then one of them gets offended when the cops mention her cup size and they drop the subject -- the woman sarcastically asks if she "violated section 34 double-D," and that's the end of it. They go looking for other clues.
"Uh, stay here ... I'll check the bathroom."
We get that they couldn't exactly arrest two women for being big boobed (that sounds like the worst kind of police state), but all the cops needed to do was put surveillance on them and wait for the real perpetrator to reunite with the other robbers. The gang eventually does wind up returning to the bank to pick up their leader (who was hiding inside the bank's walls for a week), so if the police had been tailing the women, they would have cracked the case. It's not like there would be a shortage of New York cops willing to get paid to watch voluptuous women all day.
Eventually, the police department says "screw it" and drops the case, since it can't even figure out what the robbers took. That's top-notch police work there.
"Can we forget about all those unsolved murders, too? The victims won't complain."
In You Only Live Twice, criminal organization SPECTRE devises a plan to trick the U.S. and Russia into launching a nuclear war against each other, because, you know, why not. In response, MI6 has the brilliant idea of faking James Bond's death so that he'll be able to go after SPECTRE undetected. To make his "death" more plausible, they even make sure it happens right after coitus.
"His chest hair absorbed the bullets."
Bond's superiors go all-out to make the story look authentic: Bond is given a very public burial at sea, and his "murder" even makes front page headlines.
"In related news, public health officials expect an immediate 30 percent decrease in reported STD cases."
OK, so now that everyone believes Bond is dead, what do they have him do? He travels to Japan and hooks up with Tanaka, the head of the Japanese secret service, who arranges a meeting between a chemical baron and possible SPECTRE agent named Osato and Bond, who will come disguised as ...
"And you are?"
"Bond ... James ... Bond ... Fuck."
... the same guy whose face just appeared on the front page of every newspaper.
If anything, faking Bond's death has only made his mission more dangerous. Before, he was an anonymous secret agent -- now he's a decorated "British naval commander" whose death made headlines. Since they didn't bother to give 007 any sort of disguise, there's a huge risk of him being recognized just by walking down the street. This is the opposite of what a secret agent is supposed to do, for the record. It's supposed to be all covert assassinations, spy work, and illicit sex.
"That'sh more like it."
And it's not like Bond was Tanaka's only option for the meeting -- he has a bunch of other Japanese agents working for him, so why couldn't he just send one of them instead?
So, yeah, the whole "faking 007's death" strategy proves to be pointless before the movie is half over, but at least his superiors learn their lesson. Later on, when they send Bond on an undercover mission as a Japanese fisherman, they're wise enough to give him a very convincing and politically correct disguise.
"Live long and proshper."
Robin Warder is the co-owner of a pop culture website called The Back Row.
For more fictional decisions that don't quite make sense, check out 6 Terrible Plans in Movies That Just Sort of Work Out and 6 Movie Plots That Could Have Been Solved In Minutes.
If you're pressed for time and just looking for a quick fix, then check out The GE Mascot That Proves They've Never Seen 'The Matrix'.
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