The 6 Most Pointlessly Elaborate Movie Murder Plots


When you really need something done, the simplest method is almost always the best.

But don't tell that to Hollywood bad guys, who can't seem to kill a single victim without planning out a complex, Rube Goldberg-style sequence that's almost sure to end in failure.

So, we get criminal masterminds using methods like...

Stuntman Mike's Stunt Car in Death Proof

Stuntman Mike, from Quentin Tarantino and Robert Rodriguez's ambitious bomb Grindhouse, seduces beautiful women who have nothing better to do but hang out in hole-in-the-wall bars in Middle of Nowhere, Texas.

Then he kills them, either by giving them a ride in the front seat of his stunt car (the driver seat is "death proof" but the rest of the car isn't) and crashing it, or just running them off the road.

The Problem:

Every plan results in his own car getting bashed to pieces. That means every time he scores a kill, he has to come back and rebuild the engine, put in a new suspension, get new brakes, shocks, axles, rebuild the transmission and who knows what else. All of this is after he's released from the hospital, of course.

But that doesn't touch on the most obvious problem: his insurance premiums. We don't even think Geico is going to be all that understanding after about the 12th woman turns up dead in one of his "accidents." Prepare for some skeptical looks from the claims guy, Mike.

A Better Way:

He convinces the drunken hotties to give him a lap dance to some R&B tunes, and then shoots them in the face.

The Cube in Cube

If you haven't seen this cult classic, basically it's Saw, except it doesn't involve a saw. It involves a cube.

A group of random people find themselves trapped in a cube-shaped maze, with no memory of how they got there. As the team moves through the cube, they find that some rooms are safe and some are booby trapped.

One room sprays acid on its victims, another one has retractable spikes, another juliennes its victims with cheese wire.

The Problem:

In order to truly understand a murder plot, it's important to understand the motive. And, after watching the entire movie, there doesn't seem to be any. The creation or creator of the Cube is never explained, and neither is the reason for these particular people being trapped there. In other words, the message is that life's a bitch and then you get a face full of acid.

"Is this one of the retarded acid cubes or one of the regular retarded cubes?"

But let's just assume for the sake of argument that the Cube's creator intended to teach people how to work together by putting them in a situation they could only escape from by pooling their resources, skills and knowledge. Wouldn't it be simpler and cheaper to just send them to a team-building weekend in the woods where they could learn the same things by crossing rope ladders and solving toothpick puzzles?

"Let's make this bigger. And with acid."

And if that is indeed the lesson, how are they going to spread their message when they are all dead and the only guy who makes it out alive is the one with autism?

A Better Way:

The Cube's creator points a gun in the face of his victims and tells them to "Cooperate, dammit!" Then he shoots all of them, minus the autistic one, in the face.

The Remote-Controlled Car Bomb in The Dead Pool

The Dirty Harry series officially ran out of steam by the fourth film in the franchise, and then it jumped the shark in a remote control car.

In The Dead Pool, a serial killer is once again stalking the streets of San Francisco, killing people to rig a "dead pool" (a betting pool on what famous person will die next). Dirty Harry Callahan is on the list and the killer decides the best way to off the 60-year-old man is by going after him with an explosive radio controlled car.

Unfortunately, the killer doesn't realize that Dirty Harry's actual car can out run the radio controlled car, so a chase ensues with Dirty Harry's car, the killer's car and the killer's tiny RC car, which he is controlling with perfect ease while driving his own, full-sized vehicle. Think of it as Bullitt if it were written by a small, confused child.

The Problem:

Just think about the amount of time that had to go into making a remote controlled car-bomb, and somehow making that car run fast enough to nearly keep up with a real car. Then at the end of all that effort, you still have a device that can be thwarted by something as simple as a curb or a small dog.

A Better Way:

Show Dirty Harry your ridiculous killer remote control car. While he's distracted by his derisive laughter, shoot him in the face.

The Poisonous Spider in Dr. No

James Bond movies are notorious for elaborate murder plots that involve large stockpiles of nuclear weapons, a small amateur army and the equivalent of the gross national product of a small Third World country. So while this one may not be the most elaborate, it is probably the most ill-conceived.

When one bad guy (Professor Dent) meets with Dr. No about their James Bond problem, Dr. No hands Dent a cage with a poisonous tarantula inside and orders that he kill Bond with it. Presumably he means with the spider, though it would have been quicker and more effective to bludgeon Bond to death with the cage.

The Problem:

According to the American Tarantula Society, the only way a tarantula bite could have killed Bond is if he were allergic to it. They are poisonous, sure, but the venom only produces a feeling no worse than a bee sting. So the worst Dr. No would have done to Bond is give him a nasty bruise or a week of muscle cramping in the name of evil.

But even if it had been some kind of genetically modified super-spider, the hard part is trying to get the thing to bite Bond. Ideally you'd need three burly guys to hold Bond down while you cram the spider down his pants. But of course at that point any weapon would work--and work better--than the spider.

Instead they wound up releasing the tarantula in Bond's bungalow where, for all the villains knew, it could have waited for six weeks before accidentally hanging itself in his chest hair.

A Better Way:

Instead of putting a spider in his bungalow, put a dude there. With a gun. To shoot Bond in the face.

The Entire Plot of Smokin' Aces

A mob boss wants a Las Vegas entertainer dead, so he puts a $1 million bounty on his head so that a whole bunch of colorful and apparently grossly incompetent assassins will go after him at once. Also, the assassin is to bring the man's heart to the mob boss, whose own heart is failing.

"For my next trick, I shall make plot continuity disappear!"

A million bullets, knife wounds, shattered windows and one chainsaw to the ass crack later, we learn that the target (Buddy Israel) is actually the mob boss's son. Oh, and that the mob boss is working for the FBI.

Pretty much everyone dies.

The Problem:

Hmmm... it might have something to do with "sending nine hit men to kill one coked up magician in broad daylight, with the understanding that only one of them can collect." Seems to be a lot of room for complication there. Such as, say, the hitmen all killing each other to get the cash.

A Better Way:

The mob boss calls up his son to reconcile their relationship. He shows up at the penthouse looking disheveled and heartbroken. As father and son's eyes meet, they break down in tears and share a warm and loving embrace full of sobbing and apologies for all the wasted years. Then with a heart full of joy and redemption, the father asks for his son's forgiveness. He then shoots him in the face.

The Joker's Bomb Conundrum in The Dark Knight

We would expect a ridiculously long and drawn-out murder plot from a villain like the Joker, a man by whom all clearly deranged and psychopathic murderers are measured. But this one had to have taken the assistance of a room full of supercomputers, and several psychics.

We're guessing the planning went something like this:

"First, we find two empty buildings. Without the cops noticing, we'll secretly sneak in hundreds of drums of explosive liquids, and wire all of them to explode. Next, we'll orchestrate an attack on the convoy transporting Harvey Dent. This will involve blocking busy streets, blowing police helicopters out of the air and launching missiles at the armored car. All of this will be done, not to kill Dent (though that could happen at any moment) but to cause Batman to intervene so that he will throw me in jail.

"So far so good..."

Then, while the whole town is on alert, we go ahead and have our henchmen kidnap both Dent and Rachel Dawes and strap them in with the bombs in the two abandoned buildings. Then I'll send Batman after one of them, knowing that this will result in Rachel being killed and Dent being a certain distance from the explosion as to become grotesquely injured and disillusioned. Then I'll blow up the jail without accidentally killing myself. Gentlemen, it couldn't be simpler."

The Problem:

Really nothing, as long as absolutely every single event happens exactly as it did in the film, down to the millimeter and microsecond.

If the rocket blows up Dent's armored car instead of hitting the Batmobile, if the Batmobile doesn't happen to have a motorcycle hidden inside it, if somebody clears the makeshift roadblock out of the way before the convoy gets there, if traffic allows the cops to get to Rachel before Batman gets to Dent, if a cop happens to be stations out in front of Rachel's building when the cops get the coordinates, if a hunk of debris from the building hits Dent and kills him as he's escaping the explosion...

You get the idea.

A Better Way:

The Joker makes a bullet disappear by shooting Rachel in the face.

See more of Danny Gallagher's stuff at or at his MySpace.

To find out how these over the top plans are likely to end, check out 6 Baffling Mistakes Every Movie Criminal Makes. Or check out the baffling plans Hollywood had for some of its greatest flicks in 7 Terrible Early Versions of Great Movies.

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