The 5 Stupidest Decisions You Didn't Notice in Famous Movies
There are countless movies that hinge on an obsessively detailed master plot, whether it be the ultimate bank heist or a plan to make Chris Rock president. But sometimes the characters responsible for that plot throw caution to the wind for no apparent reason, endangering (or flat-out ruining) the plans they had so intricately laid and leaving the rest of us to wonder what the hell they were thinking about. It makes for great drama, but baffling logic.
Inception -- Cobb Blows the Mission for No Reason
Inception is about international fugitive Dom Cobb (Leo DiCaprio) hacking into other people's dreams in order to steal and/or implant information, which the movie explains by finding hilarious ways for Cobb and his team to lie down and sleep next to their targets while connected to a forest of complicated electrodes and somehow still be incognito.
"Just having a nice sleep EKG, nothing strange here."
The movie focuses on Cobb's big final heist, wherein he and his operatives must reach the deepest level of a tycoon's subconscious and implant an idea. This is actually the least complicated part of the film.
Throughout the movie, the big problem lurking below the surface is that Cobb is haunted by the memories of his dead wife, Mal, which threatens to screw up the whole operation. To make sure this doesn't happen, much of the final plan is hidden from Cobb himself. So Ellen Page's character, Adriadne, knows a way into the mind fortress of the tycoon, but Cobb doesn't. It's for their own protection -- if Cobb knows, his memories of Mal will fuck everything up.
Phantom dream women, right?
Once Cobb and his Dream Bandits make it inside the tycoon's subconscious, they get intercepted by a bunch of dudes on snowmobiles trying to keep them out of the mountain bunker where the tycoon's innermost secrets are stored (because without question, this is how everyone's mind is organized). With everything going to hell, Cobb demands that Adriadne tell him the one thing he can't be allowed to know: the way into the complex. This exchange happens:
ARIADNE: I don't think I should tell you. If Mal finds out ...
COBB: We don't have time for this! Did he add anything?
ARIADNE: He added an air duct system that can cut through the maze.
COBB: Good. Explain it to them.
"Don't explain anything to the audience, though. They like being kept in the dark."
First, Cobb silences her entirely justified objections by shout-screaming "There's no time for this!" Maybe you could justify this if, in fact, they were in a position where they had no way of succeeding unless Cobb knew. But then he doesn't even use that information. He immediately has her tell it to the other members of the team so they can do all that air-duct-scuttling bullshit while he watches through binoculars.
Predictably, Mal appears and shoots one of Cobb's team members, effectively ruining the mission (or at least making it a lot more difficult and confusing). Had Cobb not insisted that Ariadne tell him about the secret way into the base, Mal would never have shown up (because Mal is Cobb's evil subconscious, so she only knows what he knows). There wasn't even any reason to tell him about it, either -- Cobb could've just asked, "Hey, is there another way into the base? There is? Good, tell them about it while I plug my ears and sing 'Black Hole Sun' to myself for a minute."
"Black Hole Sun, dreams are dumb, dreams are duuuuuumb ..."
His "There's no time for this!" outburst is especially ridiculous because he's asking Ariadne to take an extra step explaining everything to him, making the whole thing take longer. She could've just relayed the information directly to the rest of the team in less time than it took to unnecessarily involve Cobb, and they would've avoided the "murderous wife ghost" factor in the process.
Die Hard With a Vengeance -- Simon Gruber Involves the One Man He Knows Can Ruin His Plan
Die Hard pitted shoeless New York detective John McClane against bearded German murder-thief Hans Gruber. Hans had a delicately intricate plan to steal millions of dollars of bearer bonds and fake his own death via skyscraper explosion, but McClane foils it step by step before ultimately shooting Hans out of a window. Die Hard With a Vengeance continues the saga by throwing John McClane against Hans' younger brother, Simon, who is similarly engaged in an epic super-robbery. However, this time it's personal, and Simon goes out of his way to drag McClane into the plot so he can send him on pointless riddle-infused errands around New York City before ultimately killing him in some spectacularly hilarious fashion.
"Hickory dickory dock, the mouse ran up the ... ah, shit, you've already killed me."
By using McClane to stage a citywide distraction, Simon is able to tie up the resources of the entire NYPD and literally steal a boatload of gold from the Federal Reserve Bank. In fact, his plan was so good that the FBI questioned the film's writers to see if they were actually planning to rob the joint, because the FBI evidently had very little to do in 1995.
"Bruce Willis wearing flannel represents a clear and present danger to our national security."
So, the robbery is obviously brilliant and very carefully orchestrated. Simon then meticulously covers his tracks by blowing up a decoy boat in the middle of the harbor, staging it to look like an international terrorist attack on the wealth of America by burying all of the gold at the bottom of the sea. Only the gold wasn't blown up -- it was on a different ship with Simon. He is a Gruber, after all. Disguising thievery as a terrorist explosion is pretty much what they do.
"We're a German family. Compared to their grandparents, Hans and Simon are angels."
Does Simon's plan seem a little familiar? It should, because it is the exact same plan Hans had in the first film: steal a bunch of money, pretend to blow it up, escape with aforementioned money to Rum-and-Sex Island.
Now, what went wrong with Hans' plan?
And what does Simon deliberately introduce into his plan?
That's right -- Simon executes a slightly jazzier version of the same scheme his brother pulled, and then goes out of his way to bring in the exact same man who systematically dismantled that plan and made Simon an only child. This also happens to be the one man likely to recognize what's really going on. Because, you know, he was there the first time around.
We understand that Simon wants revenge for Hans, but why did both killing McClane and robbing the bank have to be done at the same time? Was Simon only in town for the weekend? Did he have a bus transfer ticket that was about to expire? He could've spread that agenda out over at least a year if he wanted to. Rob the bank, dye your hair and wait for your beard to grow in, then go back and kill McClane. Or do the killing first, whatever. You've got time, Simon.
As a wise man once said, buying a yacht full of prostitutes is the best revenge.
Instead, he mashes them both together, which to the surprise of absolutely no one results in McClane foiling the robbery and cheerfully executing Simon in public. We assume subsequent generations of Grubers will spend their formative years looking under their beds for John McClane.
On a similar note ...
Aliens -- The Evil Corporation Hires Alien-Killing Ripley to Not Kill Their Aliens
We've previously discussed how ridiculous it was for Ripley to accept another job from Weyland-Yutani despite all of the bullshit they pulled on her in the first Alien (you know, what with them intentionally sending her down to a planet to get eaten by space monsters).
"Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me. Fool me three times, shame on the whole damn franchise."
But now look at it from the company's point of view. Why in the possible hell did they want to involve her a second time?
In Aliens, Ripley wakes up from hypersleep after half a century, and her bosses say they don't believe a goddamn word of her frenzied babbling about a murderous space creature. Moreover, the flight computer from her original ship (the one she set to self-destruct in the first film in an attempt to kill the alien) claims that she blew the whole thing up for no apparent reason. She spends her hearing with the Weyland-Yutani board members shouting and flinging papers around like a lunatic.
"How could you botch a suicide mission this badly?!"
In the very next scene, Weyland-Yutani sends Mad About You's Paul Reiser to convince Ripley to escort a team of marines down to one of their colonies, which they think may be overrun with the same aliens that they refused to acknowledge even existed in the previous scene. Ripley agrees to accompany the marines as an adviser, because she's having trouble adjusting to civilian life due in large part to the PTSD we mentioned earlier, and because marines apparently need advice on how to shoot monsters.
"We point the barrel at them? Sacred Dancing Moses, that's genius."
Let's go over what happened the last time Weyland-Yutani sent Ripley into outer space with a bunch of expensive equipment and an alien -- she blew everything up, all of it, and floated around in the stars for six decades.
Seriously, Ripley's personnel file must just be a list of things she has done in direct opposition to the Weyland-Yutani business model. Also, they already know she's crazy -- they spent an entire board meeting telling her so. But the moment they find out that their colonists may have come into contact with some aliens, they trip over themselves in their rush to put Ripley back on the payroll so she can oversee another operation involving billion-dollar equipment and nightmare space creatures. And guess what happens this time:
That's right -- the same fucking thing. Ripley's entire testimony (containing every piece of knowledge that would have been useful to the marines) was available in a written report, which the marine lieutenant specifically mentions as being available for the entire team to read. They already have everything she could possibly tell them safely written down in a folder that can't blow anything up. There is literally no reason to send her along on the mission, yet Weyland-Yutani does so anyway, presumably as an exercise to keep their insurance division on their toes.
Mr. and Mrs. Smith -- Their Bosses Try to Get Them to Kill Each Other (Repeatedly)
John and Jane Smith, played by Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie, are two sexy master assassins who have been married for years but have somehow managed to remain completely oblivious to each other's status as world-class killers, in one of the most improbable strokes of storytelling convenience in cinematic history. Their respective employers find out about this staggeringly huge oversight and decide to hatch a joint plan to send the two after the same target, knowing they'll be forced to kill each other in the process and save both firms a ton of embarrassing paperwork.
The true bane of any secret agency.
John and Jane try to do the spousal elimination dance several times, resulting in the most glorified display of domestic violence ever photographed. However, they ultimately decide not to kill each other, because they've been married for like 10 years and are actually pretty happy with that arrangement. Instead, John and Jane team up to take on their respective firms in a massive final shootout at a ritzy department store, because that's where attractive people do things.
"I figured our natural habitat would be more easily defensible."
Let's say you have two of the best professional killers in the world. Let's go even further and say that the two of them are a married couple who, by all accounts, genuinely care for one another. If you were trying to rub them both out, they've made it easy for you, right? They live in the same place -- just poison their tap water or hurl a microbus at their house with a trebuchet. Boom, problem solved.
What you should absolutely never do, under any circumstance, is try to get them to kill each other.
Especially if they both look great in their underpants.
Sure, it might work. It might turn out that one (or both) of the Smiths is a cold-hearted hate machine who only married for the sake of a good cover. But that's a pretty big risk to take on "might," and what's absolutely mind blowing is the fact that the firms seem to realize this. They essentially force John and Jane into this situation with the constant reminder that if neither one kills the other, both of their lives will be forfeit. The firms are deliberately pushing Mr. and Mrs. Smith further and further into a corner they'll be forced to fight their way out of in the most bullet-acious way imaginable. If their ultimate plan is the death of John and Jane, why bother with all of this nonsense in the first place? Just put a hydrogen bomb in their mailbox and be done with it.
The Matrix -- Trinity Picks the Worst Possible Moment to Talk About Her Feelings
Whether or not you still love The Matrix may depend on whether you believe that movies can be retroactively ruined by atrocious sequels. Humans in the future are slaves to robot overlords and kept docile by an Internet dreamland called the Matrix that imprisons their minds so their bodies can be used for fuel. Some people have escaped, and they can hop in and out of the Matrix at will through telephone lines, because this movie was made in 1999. All of it is one complex excuse to have actors do awesome zero-gravity kung fu on each other while wearing sunglasses and trench coats.
Because we so needed an excuse.
In the climax, heroes Trinity and Neo have rescued their leader, Morpheus, from the villainous clutches of Hugo Weaving and have safely gotten him out of the Matrix. All they have to do now is answer a ringing telephone and they will be teleported to safety as well. Sure, the robot agents of destruction are hot on their trail, but they've practically already won. They're literally right next to the phone, and we repeat, with all of the emphasis in the world, that their salvation lies in merely lifting it from the cradle.
"Ew, what's up with that ring tone?"
Trinity picks this moment to say, "Neo, I want to tell you something," and proceeds to awkwardly wrestle with the words "I love you" before deigning to answer the phone.
We understand that at this point of the movie it has been an emotional day of personal discovery for all of the characters. But perhaps inches from safety after being locked in a reality-bending bullet fest with murderous super-bots that are still executing their "bloodthirsty pursuit" programming isn't the time to talk about goddamned feelings.
A quick fondle at most, then it's time to leave.
This is a precise transcript of Neo and Trinity's conversation:
TRINITY: Neo, I want to tell you something ... but I'm afraid of what it could mean if I do.
TRINITY: Everything the Oracle told me has come true.
TRINITY: Everything but this.
NEO: But what?
NEO and TRINITY give each other DRAMATIC LOOKS
A HOMELESS GUY turns into A KILLER ROBOT
TRINITY picks up the phone
"Pizza Hut? The hell ...?"
The life-saving telephone rings six goddamned times and Trinity doesn't even get around to making her point. We understand that it's tough to tell someone you love them, but for the love of Robot Buddha, you are right now being chased by killer machines that are actively mutating hobos in their war to destroy you while the telephone of live-saving escape is screaming urgently into your face. A better (nay, perfect) time for this stumbling exchange would be after you've answered the phone and are back on your robot-free spaceship. Then Trinity could take Neo aside and spend half an hour Hugh Granting her way through a stuttering romantic speech without the threat of cold mechanical slaughter looming directly over their shoulders.
J.F. Sargent is a workshop moderator for Cracked and takes huge risks all the time on his Twitter and Stupid Blog. Patrick is an aspiring author masquerading as an engineer. You can make fun of him on Twitter @PTatGT or send him hate mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
For more movie decisions that have us confused, check out 6 Heroic Movie Deaths That Could Have Been Easily Avoided and The 5 Most Easily Avoidable Movie Deaths.