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Action movies are usually populated by busty damsels in distress, hard-jawed men who will do anything to get their families back, and ingenious, possibly British-accented villains whose intellect is rivaled only by their sadism. At their best, these movies are about extraordinary situations that require extraordinary men. But sometimes we can't help but notice that the entire plot kicked into gear only because the authority figures in these universes sucked at their jobs to an absurd degree. Consider ...

The Dark Knight -- Nobody Objects to a Bus Crashing Out of a Bank

Warner Bros. Pictures

The Dark Knight begins with an elaborate bank robbery planned by the Joker. He accounts for every meticulous detail, and even tricks his fellow criminals into killing each other off, leaving him alone with the take. By the time the police arrive, he's driving away in a school bus, whose exit he times perfectly so that it blends in with a line of other identical buses driving their route. He escapes by hiding in plain sight, and nobody is the wiser. Except, you know, for the dozens of people who watch him slam a school bus into and then right back out of the bank.

Warner Bros. Pictures
"Must be one of those bank/bus parking lot combo joints I keep hearing about."

See, he doesn't just pull up around back and park -- he drives right through the goddamn wall. So that means the other bus drivers (and everyone else on the street: all those pedestrians and cars you see above), watch a school bus crash through a building, then pull out and flee the scene of what is clearly a robbery ... and then they all just shrug and move on with their lives.

Maybe the other drivers are members of his team? Nope -- you can clearly hear the voices of kids in the other buses, so either the other drivers aren't with him, or this is the most hardcore school district around.

Warner Bros. Pictures
It's a town where kids tend to grow up tough.

The Joker should have easily been caught at this point. The bus driver behind or ahead of him probably would have called 911 after seeing a bus go through a building. Some of the pedestrians would have called too, or just ran up to the incoming police and told them their guy was getting away. Hell, even if we accept that everyone on the street is totally oblivious, you'd think the many witnesses left inside the bank would have something to say about how the Joker made his getaway.

Warner Bros. Pictures
"Why ... so ... obviousssSSS?"

There's a reason the scene ends as the Joker drives off: Because if it kept going, you'd see the police immediately turn around and catch him. Even the incompetent Gotham City police wouldn't have any trouble boxing in a slow, unwieldy school bus, especially since it looks like the roads are busy. And it's not like he was blending in with the other buses, because his was the only one with no kids, plenty of dents, and trailing a comically huge amount of bank-dust.

Kick-Ass -- The Police Forget That Computers Are a Thing


In Kick-Ass, an average high school student gets bored of his mundane life and decides to become a vigilante superhero. He dresses up in a green spandex suit, grabs a couple batons, runs around town, and promptly gets his ass kicked by pretty much every thug he meets. Finally, a realistic superhero movie! Despite his general ineptitude, Kick-Ass becomes a YouTube celebrity, although that's not saying much considering videos of deer farting account for millions of YouTube views.

We're not gonna promise you something like that and fail to deliver.

Then some competent vigilantes, Big Daddy and Hit-Girl, kill crime-lord Frank D'Amico's henchmen. Somehow under the impression that an inept teenager is responsible for undermining his drug empire, D'Amico orders Kick-Ass killed. When this leads to a Kick-Ass impersonator getting knocked off, the police decide that hey, maybe they should do something about this whole vigilante violence campaign thing. They appeal to the public for help in identifying Kick-Ass, but come up empty.

Their first mistake was assuming that anyone who had ever seen the Internet would also be a newspaper buyer.

That's understandable -- it would be hard to identify a dude in a mask based only on shaky cell phone camera footage. If only there was something else for the authorities to go on, like the incredibly popular, frequently updated MySpace page that he sets up so people can ask him for help. Because that's totally a thing he did.

The police catch criminals using social media all the time. With the cooperation of MySpace and Kick-Ass' ISP, it would be easy to track him down -- that's why Superman doesn't keep a Facebook page. The only possible explanation is that Kick-Ass is using some fancy computer wizardry to protect himself, but Big Daddy manages to trace him to his house almost instantly, and that dude looks like a short-bus Batman.

Albeit a hell of a lot more reasonably equipped.

Then again, maybe the police, like everybody else, just forgot MySpace was still a thing in 2010.

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Goldfinger -- The U.S. Army Fools Goldfinger, Then Lets Him Execute His Plan Anyway

United Artists

The plot of Goldfinger revolves around megalomaniacal industrialist/groin-laser enthusiast Auric Goldfinger's plan to attack Fort Knox with nerve gas, then use a dirty bomb to make its gold reserves useless. Thankfully, James Bond is able to sex Goldfinger's henchwoman Pussy Galore (the Bond series was never about subtlety) into betraying her boss. The pair team up with the U.S. Army and enact a plan wherein Galore sprays a harmless chemical over Fort Knox instead of nerve gas, and all the soldiers just pretend they got hit like a grown-up flashmob game of cops and robbers.

It works perfectly -- they lure out Goldfinger's bomb, his goons, and the man himself. The soldiers wait patiently, feigning incapacitation, as the bad guys enter the base, enter the vault, and prepare their bomb. Only then does the Army -- represented by, like, eight dudes -- spring into action to stop him. They are, however, thwarted by Goldfinger's ingenious tactic of closing the door.

United Artists
"Door" might be underselling it a bit.

So hey, here's an idea: Maybe the Army could have had, like, all the guys waiting for Goldfinger in the vault. Did they forget that they didn't actually get gassed? If you watch the clip above you see at least a couple hundred soldiers in on the operation, and there are presumably many more on base. They could have ambushed and overwhelmed Goldfinger at any point. Why wait until the last possible moment? Was it an entire platoon of method actors?

And while we're at it, the Army probably should have told their soldiers what Goldfinger -- and remember, the entire reason this operation exists is to apprehend him -- looks like, seeing as he manages to escape their clutches by donning an Army uniform and pointing them in the wrong direction, a move taken right out of The Snidely Whiplash Manual for Supervillainy. Keep in mind that Goldfinger isn't your standard shadowy Bond antagonist; he's a well-known public figure. Even if they couldn't get a picture of him down to Fort Knox in time to brief the soldiers, all they had to do was tell the men to be on the lookout for an obese balding man with a thick German accent, which isn't typically what you consider to be U.S. Army material.

United Artists
Goldfinger, seen here trying to fight off a heart attack brought on by all this physical activity.

Inglourious Basterds -- The Nazis Don't Bother to Employ Security in a War Zone

The Weinstein Company

Inglourious Basterds is set in an alternate World War II that somehow manages to be more violent than the actual world-wide war. Long story short, the heroes come together to trap Hitler and every other top Nazi at a movie premiere while they burn down the theater. It's not an easy mission. The theater is in occupied Paris, which means the entire Nazi government is meeting in a city full of people who hate them. Security will be tight. Why, just look at all the guards stationed in the main hall ...

The Weinstein Company
"Um ... guten Tag?"

Er, maybe they're in the middle of changing shifts. Let's check out the first floor.

The Weinstein Company
Admittedly, that banner that would bring most parties to a screeching halt.

Seriously? Are all the guards in line at the concession stand? Even the main entrance doesn't have any security.

The Weinstein Company
"Am I at the right theater? Is this where literally all the Nazis are?"

There's more security at a regular movie theater -- you generally at least have a ticket-taker at the door and an usher by the theaters themselves. You're telling us the grand gathering of every single important Nazi in the world doesn't warrant the same security as the noon showing of That Awkward Moment? Hitler does have two guards in his private booth, but those are the only soldiers in the entire building. In reality, not only was there a whole elite military division whose responsibilities included serving as Hitler's bodyguards, but you'd think security would be stepped up for the rest of the Nazi bigwigs too, considering that they were an extremely militaristic invading force in the middle of fighting a friggin' world war. It's not like the Nazis were all gathering at some secretive meeting, either -- the premiere was a highly publicized propaganda stunt that was pretty much begging to be attacked by the resistance. No ruler, even in peace-time, would attend an event with security that lax. We know the Nazis might not have been the unstoppable evil force history often makes them out to be, but if they had one weakness, it was certainly not that they were too trusting.

The Weinstein Company
"False alarm, guys; he says he's just on his way to a baseball game."

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Elysium -- Whoever Programmed the "Lethal Encryption" Software Doesn't Understand What "Encryption" Means

TriStar Pictures

In Elysium, an evil businessman, played by William Fichtner, who is court-mandated to play all evil businessmen in every movie ever made (you'll remember him from the Batman entry of this same article, where he plays an evil mob banker with a shotgun), creates a program to reboot the titular orbital mega-city so that the character played by Jodie Foster and her very bad accent can become its president. Since possession of the program would allow anyone to basically rule the world, Evil Businessman does the shockingly responsible thing and protects the program with lethal encryption software before uploading it to his own brain.

TriStar Pictures
"We want a logo that's equal parts cutting-edge neuroscience and cartoonish trope."

He's soon killed by protagonist Max Da Costa, who forcibly transfers the program to his own mind, resulting in, you guessed it ... Max getting a bit of a headache for roughly 12 seconds? What? What happened to the lethality?

Ah, but then Max makes the mistake of showing the program to one of his buddies, and here we go, this transfer results in ... nothing bad happening to Max at all. See, this is what you get for going with the cheap HTC brainware.

TriStar Pictures
"'Made in Guam'? That can't bode well."

Eventually, after a bunch of explosions and katana-stabbings, Max makes it to Elysium and we find out that the "lethal" protection is lethal only if he actually uses the program. So that's what he does, heroically sacrificing himself to give Elysium's fancy medical technology to the people of Earth and bring an end to the least subtle commentary on healthcare we've seen outside of political cartoons.

TriStar Pictures
All the subtlety of a flying turd.

You've probably noticed the flaw here, in that for the encryption to be worth a damn it needs to fry a thief's brain when he tries to steal the data. If it's not lethal until they've already stolen and used it, then it's just a form of petty revenge. There's no protection there whatsoever -- that's like not assigning a password to your email account and giving herpes to everybody who accesses it. It would even still be useful if the encryption sizzled the cerebral cortices of would be mind-burglars when they tried to access the data -- say, the instant Max showed the program to his pal. Instead this is a security protocol that actually lets you see and even use the data it's supposedly protecting before taking its toll.

It's like shareware for evil dickheads.

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Related Reading: Some movie plot holes are destined to remain unanswered. Like, how do all these lady secret agents and soldiers have perfectly blow-dried hair? More movie plots than you might think are based in a healthy grounding of reality. Even the story of Indiana Jones. If you'd like a list of last year's most inexplicably redundant movie plots, Cracked can oblige.

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