The 6 Most Idiotic Decisions by Authority Figures in Movies


Some of the most famous cinematic heroes are folks who didn't respect authority and liked to play by their own rules. Well, there's a very good reason for that -- authority figures, from police departments to federal agencies, aren't known for making the wisest decisions in movies. In fact, some of them are bafflingly stupid. Like ...

Batman -- The Joker Announces He's Holding a Parade, No Cops Bother to Show Up


Different actors have played the Joker in different ways, but one thing that hasn't changed is the fact that the guy doesn't care much for money -- in The Dark Knight, he burns a huge pile of bills (with an accountant on top), and in Tim Burton's Batman, he hijacks the mayor's press conference to announce that he'll be holding a midnight parade in downtown Gotham City and throwing $20 million in cash at the crowd.

And sure enough, when midnight comes around, the Joker keeps his word and holds his downtown parade, to the delight of Gotham's citizens. Sure, he also tries to gas those citizens to death, but no one's perfect.

Now, here's the thing: By this point in the movie, the Joker is already a supervillain. Aside from, well, looking like that, he is wanted for killing people and making creepy-ass commercials. And here he has done the authorities a huge favor by telling them exactly where and when he'll show up next, and even makes sure to tell Batman to be there. And what do the cops do with this information? Absolutely nothing.

Watch the scene again -- not a single policeman is present, even though the parade literally passes right in front of City Hall. Were they all trapped in the sewers by Bane or something?

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"Let Batman handle it. It's league night."

It should be mentioned that the most powerful figures in Gotham were present to hear the Joker's announcement, including the mayor, Commissioner Gordon, and District Attorney Lando Calrissian ...

The 6 Most Idiotic Decisions by Authority Figures in Movies

What the hell are they looking at, anyway?

You'd think that, after being provided with such generous advance notice, Gotham PD would put themselves on high alert and cover the entire downtown area. We don't know how big the area is, but how hard could it be to spot the guy in the clown makeup traveling on a parade float, blaring Prince music and dragging a couple of gigantic balloons behind him?

And yet, the first we ever see of the cops is like 10 minutes later, after the Joker has had enough time to poison several people, shoot down Batman's plane, and take his girlfriend into a bell tower. They knew the parade would be at midnight. Why were they so late?

The 6 Most Idiotic Decisions by Authority Figures in Movies

"Goddamn daylight saving time!"

Die Hard 2 -- The Justice Department Wants to Pick Up a Deposed Dictator at a Commercial Airport

The 6 Most Idiotic Decisions by Authority Figures in Movies

The plot of Die Hard 2 involves deposed South American dictator/drug lord General Ramon Esperanza being extradited to the U.S. to stand trial for his crimes/showcase his fantastic beard. Esperanza is put on a plane bound for Dulles International Airport in Washington, D.C., where he will be handed over to the Justice Department.

The 6 Most Idiotic Decisions by Authority Figures in Movies

They've been after him since his mandingo fighting days.

However, the corrupt Colonel Stuart and his team of mercenaries decide to hijack the airport's network and hold all the airplanes flying overhead hostage until they can spring Esperanza from custody and flee the country. And what do you know, John McClane's wife is on one of those planes. McClane must now defeat Stuart and convince his wife that he isn't cursed (judging by her absence in the sequels, she didn't believe him).

Anyway, we've already mocked Colonel Stuart's needlessly convoluted plan, which hinges entirely on the area being hit with a blizzard ... but, um, why is the Justice Department picking up such a high-profile prisoner at a commercial airport in the first place, anyway?

The 6 Most Idiotic Decisions by Authority Figures in Movies

"Never waste an opportunity for duty-free booze."

When we see the Justice Department guys, they are completely surrounded by reporters -- that was their best case scenario, the worst one being "some asshole kidnaps a bunch of planes to free the general." To compound their stupidity, they decide to pick up Esperanza at Christmastime, when Dulles Airport will be super busy and packed with people. This idea creates a ludicrous number of security risks, especially considering that the airport police is run by the most incompetent officer ever.

The 6 Most Idiotic Decisions by Authority Figures in Movies

He spends most of his scenes trying not to swallow his tongue.

While it's obvious that the character of Esperanza was inspired by Manuel Noriega, the Panamanian dictator who was captured by American military forces and extradited to the U.S. a year before Die Hard 2 came out, the main difference there was that Noriega was transported to an Air Force base, not the same place you go to pick up your grandma, because that's just common sense.

So, if not for the piss-poor planning of the authorities, Die Hard 2 might have been the wacky story of John McClane dealing with his angry mother-in-law for causing her new car to get towed.

The 6 Most Idiotic Decisions by Authority Figures in Movies

Die Hard 2: Park Harder

Minority Report -- Tom Cruise Becomes a Fugitive, They Still Give Him Top Clearance

The 6 Most Idiotic Decisions by Authority Figures in Movies

According to Minority Report, in about 50 years we'll figure out how to stop crimes before they happen by harnessing the powers of mutant babies. However, this system backfires on the PreCrime captain, John Anderton (Tom Cruise), when the precognitive kids have a vision of him committing a murder in 36 hours. Anderton is forced to go on the run as a wanted fugitive.

The 6 Most Idiotic Decisions by Authority Figures in Movies

And that is officially the most convoluted reason for Tom Cruise to spend a whole movie sprinting.

At one point, Anderton decides to undergo an eye transplant so that he can avoid being detected by the city's retina scanners (which are freaking everywhere), but the doctor is nice enough to let him keep his old eyeball in a plastic baggie. This bit of sentimentality pays off later when Anderton returns to the PreCrime building in order to kidnap one of the precogs and uses his old eyeball on the retina scanner to gain access.

The 6 Most Idiotic Decisions by Authority Figures in Movies

"No! I've seen what that hand does! Nooooooo!"

But, wait a minute ... why does Anderton still have access to the most restricted high-security area of the building? After becoming the city's most wanted criminal, you'd think they would have revoked his security clearance. Does this mean he can still use his parking spot, too?

But, you know, let's cut them a little slack on this one. It's only been about a day and a half since Anderton went on the run, and the PreCrime unit's been pretty busy trying to catch him. Maybe they simply didn't get around to revoking his clearance, or they didn't know he would be ballsy enough to go back to a building full of pissed-off cops.

The 6 Most Idiotic Decisions by Authority Figures in Movies

It's not like they can see the future or anything.

However, once Anderton has been in and out of the building, knocked some people out, and kidnapped a kid, then revoking his access would definitely become a top priority, right? Nope. Later in the movie, his wife is able to just walk right into a containment unit and break him out by using his goddamn eyeball ... again.

Let's get this straight: Immediately after he goes on the run, Anderton can't even drive his own car (they disable it remotely), but weeks later, he can still release prisoners? And even worse, D.C. cops apparently didn't learn anything from that whole Die Harder situation decades earlier.

Collateral -- The FBI Doesn't Bother to Protect Witnesses Against a Drug Kingpin

The 6 Most Idiotic Decisions by Authority Figures in Movies

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?

The 6 Most Idiotic Decisions by Authority Figures in Movies

"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.

The 6 Most Idiotic Decisions by Authority Figures in Movies

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.

Inside Man -- The NYPD Gets Awkward Around Boobs, Lets Suspects Go

The 6 Most Idiotic Decisions by Authority Figures in Movies

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 ...

The 6 Most Idiotic Decisions by Authority Figures in Movies

... 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.

The 6 Most Idiotic Decisions by Authority Figures in Movies

"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.

The 6 Most Idiotic Decisions by Authority Figures in Movies

"Can we forget about all those unsolved murders, too? The victims won't complain."

You Only Live Twice -- Bond's Superiors Fake His Death, Immediately Blow His Cover

The 6 Most Idiotic Decisions by Authority Figures in Movies

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.

The 6 Most Idiotic Decisions by Authority Figures in Movies

"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.

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"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 ...

The 6 Most Idiotic Decisions by Authority Figures in Movies

"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.

The 6 Most Idiotic Decisions by Authority Figures in Movies

"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.

The 6 Most Idiotic Decisions by Authority Figures in Movies

"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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