6 Baffling Mistakes Every Movie Criminal Makes
According to the movies, those who choose a career in organized crime are genuine mental enigmas so puzzling they make John Nash look like Kevin Federline. These people have made a career out of evading law enforcement and bypassing high-level security systems, yet when it comes down to making some common sense decisions, they are utter morons.
If you are looking for a life of crime, here's a Hollywood guide on what not to do:
Discussing Your Crime in a Diner
As Seen In:
Pulp Fiction, Thief, Heat, American Gangster, Goodfellas
In Hollywood productions, criminals do not mess around. If they're willing to steal, they're usually also willing to murder, torture, and blow up anything that can possibly be blown up (and probably some things that quite honestly can't be blown up). Most of civilized society, however, tends to frown upon such behavior, and as such it's really not prudent to discuss those plans in public. Doing so may lead to death at the hands of a wisecracking, world-weary cop.
So, when one is planning heists, murders, and mind-blowingly awesome explosions, it might be smart to do so in a secure, isolated location where other people are unlikely to be found.
Just a suggestion.
What you would not do is hold your conferences in, say, a diner, with a couple dozen potential eavesdroppers in the vicinity.
It isn't like they don't have a choice in the matter. Most movie criminals have access to everything from military grade machine guns and vault-cutting lasers to Joe freakin' Pesci. We're expected to believe that they can't find a private room somewhere to act as a hide-out? Why can't they just meet in the same old "Desolate Woods on the Outskirts of the City" where they are always dumping bodies? Surely the corpse of Billy Bats is unlikely to snitch on them.
This sort of thing happens so often that we're surprised anyone living in the Crime Thriller universe still eats out, for fear they'll get caught in a crossfire at some point.
We could have gone with Heat, where Robert Deniro nearly murders a man in the crowded parking lot of a diner (foiled only because the guy pretty much vanishes into thin air like David freaking Copperfield) or American Gangster, where Denzel Washington's character actually gets up, walks down the sidewalk, and blows a dude's head off before walking calmly back into the diner to finish his meal.
But no, the prize has to go to Pulp Fiction, where a couple of robbers discuss robbing while sitting a diner, before robbing the same diner. At which point the robbery is thwarted because a couple of hitmen happened to be a few tables over, openly discussing the business of being hitmen.
Related: 'Seinfeld's Diner: A History
Working With a Sociopath
As Seen In:
Heat, Reservoir Dogs, Goodfellas, Casino, Panic Room
When accepting new members into their gang, Hollywood criminals definitely need to work on their screening process. Joining a "crew", as it turns out, is even easier than winning a Grammy. You don't really need to possess a single useful skill at all, because there's this role that always needs to be filled: that of the terrifying madman who no one in their right mind would ever associate with.
While most movie bank robbers and stick-up men will only kill when it's necessary to get the job done, it's the job of the sociopath to kill people, who like, "didn't need to die man", all the while giggling like a little kid at Build-A-Bear workshop.
The other characters in the movie get pretty angry about such things, but really, it's their own fault. Who on earth plans a perfect crime and then decides it'd be a good idea to bring along their insane friend? There's some serious stuff at stake here. Despite what you may have come to believe after hours of playing Grand Theft Auto, the consequences of a botched crime job are often quite a bit worse than waking up in a hospital with a little less money than you used to have.
Goodfellas. In other crime films, the madman is usually used for one job. After making the mistake of inviting the crazy kid to the party once, the characters learn the lesson and the psychopath winds up dead (or everyone else does).
In this film, however, Joe Pesci's sociopath remains close friends with the main characters for decades, even though he uses every second of screen time to prove that he is the most violently impulsive human being on the planet. In real life, the mob would never ...
Wait, that was based on a true story?
Holy shit. Once again, it turns out real life is more retarded than fiction.
Working With Far More People Than Necessary
As Seen In:
Oceans 11, 12, 13. The Departed, Panic Room, Bonnie & Clyde
You know those girls on Myspace who have 23,138 friends? It doesn't matter to them that no human being needs that many friends, or that no person could maintain a reasonable level of sanity with that many people bugging them to hang out. The large number makes them feel popular and validated. Well, Hollywood thinks that criminals are pretty much the same.
Sure, they might not need a lot of people to pull off a job, but won't the innocent bystanders be impressed to see a dozen dudes strolling into the bank in ski masks?
"Shit, there's an old lady. I knew we shoulda brought four guys."
Wrong. Absolutely freaking wrong. First of all, let's think of the motive that drives these characters. Greed. For them, it is indeed all about the Benjamins, and the fact of the matter is, the more people involved in the crime, the smaller the shares, and therefore less cash for everyone.
Second of all, with so many people in on the plan, the odds of getting caught rise exponentially. Hell, how many people would you trust with a secret that could send you to jail?
The Oceans 11 series. This only gets worse as the series goes on, and they have to keep inflating the roster and the size of the heist. By the fifth or sixth movie they'll have enough guys to rob an armored car by just gathering around it and carrying it way.
Having Extended Conversations With People Who are Trying to Catch You
As Seen In:The Thomas Crown Affair, Insomnia, Heat, Thief, Bonnie & Clyde, The Departed, Silence of the Lambs and countless other serial killer movies.
Ads like to describe these crime movies as something like, "a thrilling cat and mouse thriller, guaranteed to thrill." This assessment might be accurate if mice were known to run in front of cats telling them exactly where they are, where they will be in the future, and what they plan to do once they get there. But they don't do that, because mice are smarter than that. Movie criminals, not so much.
They always seize the opportunity to taunt their pursuers, saying things like "You'll never catch me." That statement may have once been true, but by revealing his identity and his plans, well, it seems like he's made it fairly easy for the police to catch him. They no longer have to go about the tedious work of determining who the culprit is.
To make things worse, the bad guys often meet the good guys in public places.
That's right, places like a diner.
The Thomas Crown Affair, in which Steve McQueen (and in the remake, Pierce Brosnan) courts the private investigator hired to catch him. Granted, said private investigator is Faye Dunaway and later, Rene Russo, so we can see where he's coming from.
Still, if you're going to be a successful criminal, you can't think with your dick.
Trusting the "New Guy" Who Nobody Knows
As Seen In:
Donnie Brasco, The Departed, Reservoir Dogs, any movie where somebody goes under deep cover.
So you'd like a career in crime, but you don't have any particular skills in that area, and you're not insane enough to fill the sociopath role. Well, there's always another surefire way to make it on a crew: be a cop.
Seriously. If there is one guy that mob bosses love even more than their funny little friend who tortures innocent people in his free time, it's the new guy who joined the crew just before the cops suddenly started magically figuring out what they were going to do next.
They don't seem to care that, despite years of work in this business, they've never heard of the guy, or that none of their associates have, or that there's no real indication the dude has committed any crimes up to a month before joining. They are also oblivious to the fact that the kid is so visibly uncomfortable with committing crime that he looks as nervous as Fred Durst at a spelling bee ("our next word is 'biscuit'...").
The thing is, the guys who have been with the boss for years, have remained loyal, done their jobs, and never asked for more, well, he couldn't really care less about them. But when a cop comes along, the boss suddenly has either a best buddy or, better yet, a surrogate son. After all, who is more open and trusting than a life-long criminal?
The Departed. Again, it's pretty odd when a cop can gain access so easily to the criminal organization even though no one knows anything about him. But in this film, the bad guys do know something about him: the fact that he was in training at the police academy.
But, sure enough, they take him on. Suddenly the cops become much more efficient once Leonardo Dicaprio has joined the crew ... making him all the more valuable! And they don't suspect him, because when asked by Jack Nicholson's character, Leo assures him he's not a cop.
"Good enough for us! If he was a cop, he's required to tell us! Right, gang? Somebody should check up on that later."
Killing People Whenever It Seems Convenient
As Seen In:
Every single crime film you have ever seen.
Listen, we know that it has been scientifically proven that there is a direct correlation between how cool a movie is and how high it's body count is. And while some dark corner of our psyche likes the idea of being in a situation where we can gun down dudes with no consequences, it doesn't make for a terribly effective criminal. Let's face it, after the opening scene of Dark Knight, nobody's ever going to agree to rob a bank with The Joker again.
But in movies, even the calm, cool, rational bad guys make the mistake of gunning down victims when the consequences of murder are a hundred times greater than the consequences of what they were doing in the first place.
In Heat, our characters screw up a "perfectly-planned" heist (does that really surprise you anymore?). We totally understand trying to escape when the cops arrive, but once they're hemmed in, instead of surrendering and calling their lawyers, they whip out machine guns and go on a shooting rampage in the middle of the city.
That's only gonna make things worse, guys.
The Die Hard movies.
Cool criminal genius Hans Gruber wants to commit a robbery. He comes up with a simple plan that involves committing several dozen counts of kidnapping, several acts of murder, firing missiles at police cars and blowing up an entire skyscraper.
His idea was to disguise his robbery as an act of international terrorism. Think about that; in order to pull off a job that would normally draw the attention of the FBI and maybe InterPol, he disguises it as something sure to bring the entire force of the US military down on him and his entire home country.
Hell, if he'd gotten away, he'd likely have wound up on a waterboarding table in some secret CIA prison a few months later, wishing Bruce Willis had thrown him off a building. Good idea, Hans!
For some movie mistakes that make even less sense than these, check out 8 Classic Movies That Got Away With Gaping Plot Holes. Or find out about some good guys who made some bad mistakes in 5 Movie Martial Artists That Lost a Deathmatch to Dignity.