6 Stupid Military Decisions In Movies And TV
When you're at home watching a movie, it's easy to armchair gunfight. For instance, you might point out how stupid it is for a henchman to watch his friends get beaten to death while waiting for his turn to gently attack. But that's not fair to the henchman. Unlike you, he has no idea what a Steven Seagal is.
The point is, you can't know what went into a movie character's bad decisions. Still, you have to question why ...
Mance Rayder In Game of Thrones Refuses To Use His Magical Bird Spy
In the frozen no man's land north of The Wall, Mance Rayder manages to unite every wildling, hillbilly, wizard, and giant into a massive army. To get that many lunatics to come together about anything takes cunning and leadership more fantastic than all the show's dragons and tits combined.
And he can also totally pull off a stray-cat jacket.
Rayder's plan is to kill his way past the Night's Watch, but he's told by super-secret spy Jon Snow that there is an unstoppable army waiting for them. It's a lie; the Night's Watch is actually a sad-eyed fat guy and 40 cranky convicted sex offenders. The lie is crucial to Jon's convoluted plan to stop Rayder.
Here's what's stupid, though: Mance has a guy on his team, Orell, who can take over birds with his mind. No one wants to have him jump into a bird and go check things out? Even if everyone believed Jon Snow that each castle was manned by hundreds of well-trained soldiers, why not take a peek anyway?
"I could bird warg and be back in like 20 minu- Oh, the new guy gave you some intel? I guess I'll sit my amazingly magical ass in the snow and do NOTHING then."
Maybe Mance is a better community organizer than he is a military tactician, but here's how the dumbshit chooses to handle the situation. He sends the guy who can scout as a bird on (human) foot with Jon Snow, the least-trusted guy in his army. Sure enough, Jon kills him. It's as if Jon Snow's entire plan was to do such obviously obvious things, no one could possibly see them coming.
And speaking of not seeing things coming, Mance's army gets annihilated because Stannis rides up out of nowhere with a zillion horses. You know what could have prevented that? A single bird, glancing casually around the area every few days. It's like Mance met this guy who can Quantum Leap into animals and he thought, "This will be so handy for bizarre sex and nothing else!" What is it with fantasy franchises and their refusal to use birds to easily solve problems?
The First Order in The Force Awakens Dumps Their Troops Directly Into Enemy Fire
The First Order is an enormous military force determined to take over the Star Wars universe. In order to do that, they need to be able to move their space fascists around with maximum efficiency. They've gone with the Atmospheric Assault Lander, a bathtub-like vehicle that can deploy twenty troopers in seconds. It sort of sucks. It's what you get your child when you want them to know they're not as good as the child who got an AT-AT walker.
"First Order ... Transporter? Daddy? Does Santa h-hate me?"
It's a ship reminiscent of the Higgins boat landing crafts used during WWII -- death trap, vomit-inducing tubs that made sure all its occupants exited directly into incoming fire in single file. It's like the First Order scientists were watching heads explode in the opening of Saving Private Ryan and thought, "What if that ... but in space?"
Obviously, you don't want to spend years training and brainwashing your stormtroopers, fitting them for expensive (but completely useless) armor, and then have them tumble into a laser fight with no cover. It doesn't really save you enough time to make up for the very increased chance of exploded head.
"We got this! We got th- AIIEEEE!"
Our great military thinkers on Earth took a look at the Higgins boats of WWII and thought, "Let's have the guys go out the back next war. You know, so the vehicle will shield them from fire until they get organized." The First Order couldn't come up with that idea? In fact, wait, that thing is a flying space ship. Couldn't they just park it facing the other direction? Or slightly farther away from the battle? Are those assholes trying to kill their own stormtroopers?
The Air Force In Independence Day Gathers No Intel In Advance
In Independence Day, after the aliens have wiped out every major city in the world, the U.S. Air Force is itching for some payback. Hundreds of pilots are sent to bring down the ship that destroyed Los Angeles, yet even with all the powers of the Fresh Prince, they fail to penetrate its space shields. It turns out these aren't shitty aliens who die to Earth germs like in War Of The Worlds or get melted by Earth water like in Signs. Or lose themselves to Earth's true love like in Starman.
They don't even put their shield generators in big testicles on top of their ship like Imperial Star Destroyers.
To make the situation worse, every American aircraft is taken down by the alien fighters, killing off the last fighter pilots. They become so desperate they recruit a drunk Randy Quaid to fly a fighter jet, right next to the president of the United States, who is also going to fly a fighter jet. Movie rules say that at a certain point, a plan becomes so ridiculous it MUST work. But should it really have gotten to this point? Should they really be executing a frontal assault led by the leader of the free world and a guy too intoxicated to legally pilot a tractor?
Can a GIF fail a breathalyzer test?
Which brings us to the question, what the shit was the Air Force thinking at the start of this movie? They flung all of their best pilots at the aliens before knowing what the giant ships could do? Is there a single person on the planet who expected those missiles to simply fly over and blow it up? No! It's from space -- if it didn't have an impenetrable space field it would probably have some kind of missile-returning space beam. Did this movie take place in a universe with no movies, comic books, books, or coloring books?
Hell, if nothing else they could have shot a few regular missiles at it to see what would happen. Or sent a number of pilots fewer than "all" just in case the aliens had foreseen the strategy, "SHOOT MISSILES."
Or, and we can't stress this enough, not send the leader of the free world as one of them.
Instead, the Air Force invests all their resources into seeing if the most obvious, simple thing can kill the ship. It'd be like Franklin D. Roosevelt putting all the allied troops in one big blimp and flying it straight towards Berlin, then mounting a chainsaw on his wheelchair, whistling for his cat, and riding off to avenge them himself.
The Secret Service Agents In Olympus Has Fallen Seem Very Eager To Die
Secret Service agents are some of the most highly trained and dedicated law enforcement officers in the world. They work to protect a man who is, at all times, hated by half the country, and are willing to take a bullet for that man if necessary. Unfortunately, only that last part of their training is demonstrated in the movie Olympus Has Fallen, featuring Gerard Butler as the only Secret Service agent who knows you shouldn't headbutt bullets.
If you've confused it with several other similar movies that came out recently, Olympus Has Fallen is a movie about the White House getting taken over by North Korea, which seems far-fetched until you see how every Secret Service agent in the movie acts. They fight as if there was an office pool on who could get shot the most times and in the stupidest ways possible.
The White House has columns, you know.
Look at that! It's like they're trying to defeat the terrorists by stealing all their ammunition with their chests and faces. When a machine gun starts firing into the White House, a fortress prepared for exactly this type of thing, they all stand in the bullets while Gerard Butler insists they shouldn't. Maybe they were trained in some antiquated gunfighting tradition left over from the Adams administration?
That clip up there isn't taken out of context. Or rather, the context actually makes it stupider. Prior to this, the local police and the Secret Service have been getting torn apart by planes, snipers, and grenades for almost four minutes. So they are, at the very least, alert and keeping their eyes out for things out of the ordinary. In the middle of the chaos, a garbage truck pulls up to the White House. Weird!
This is in the ordinary for downtown Washington D.C.
It starts putting on a one-garbage-truck pyrotechnics show by exploding each of its own tires, one at a time. What the shit? Rad!! Every single terrorist lays down on the ground! Hmm, okay! A portal on the truck opens to reveal a mounted machine gun. Oh, this could be something! Gerard Butler tells everyone to fucking duck. Guys, what do you think he's up to?! The machine gun starts and kills the dozens and dozens of Secret Service agents who have gathered to watch this. Ha ha, WHAT?! Who could have seen this coming?!
"Welp, we gave it our best shot, boys!"
We're a little surprised this movie didn't inspire North Korea to try to take over the White House in real life. Olympus kind of just falls by itself.
General Cornwallis In The Patriot Trusts Mel Gibson For No Reason At All
In The Patriot, Mel Gibson plays a notorious Indian slaughterer named Benjamin Martin. However, they show he's a good guy because he's kind of okay to his slaves, and he gives his young boys the nice guns when he leads them on a guerrilla attack.
"America is *pant* so fucked that I'm a famously racist actor *pant* playing a slave-owning war criminal, and I'm *pant* the HERO."
The big bad in the film is General Cornwallis, a man Martin refers to as a "genius." But "genius" always loses to "America." Martin had given up war, but comes out of retirement when his house gets burned down and one of his best sons gets killed by Cornwallis' underling, Colonel Tavington, who embarks on a series of plans simply cartoonish in their evil. Martin counters with a nightmare-inducing campaign of death. He kills British officers (like some kind of uncivilized, backwoods savage!), steals his diaries, and even kidnaps his dogs. Still, the military might of the British soon gets the upper hand, and most of Martin's men get captured or killed. So Martin now has to arrange a prisoner exchange and match wits with the "genius" Cornwallis.
Martin rides into the general's fort with a peace flag and Cornwallis' dogs. Cornwallis sees Martin, this kill-crazy hillbilly who can't wrap his head around a rocking chair and smells like he's been bathing in human blood in the woods, because he has been. Months of guerrilla warfare and a lifetime of refined upbringing are telling Cornwallis this scoundrel can't be trusted, and the first thing he does is trust him completely.
Martin isn't playing chess, he's playing ... what's dumber than checkers? Tic-Tac-Toe?
Cornwallis asks Martin to stop killing officers, and Martin responds by pointing to a distant ridge lined with uniformed figures. Benjamin says he'll kill them if his men aren't released, but the General is suspicious. He asks for their names and ranks. Martin says they wouldn't give up their names. Cornwallis thinks, "That's good enough for me!" and swaps his captives for a row of prisoners on a distant ridge who both don't have names and are ludicrously fake.
After the exchange, it turns out they were scarecrows the entire time!
Now, we're not saying he's a total idiot for believing in the honesty of men, but when the man in question is known mainly for his flagrant disregard for decorum and honesty, maybe double check? There is nothing stopping him from riding over to see if his soldiers are straw dummies before the exchange. Or releasing a hungry donkey in his soldiers' direction and waiting to see if it eats them. Really, any number of plans would have been better than trusting a deceitful mass-murderer. And just to add stupid insult to stupid, stupid insult ...
... Mel Gibson steals the moron's dogs again.
Aragorn In Return Of The King Does A Horrible Job Of Distracting Sauron
After winning the Battle Of The Pelennor Fields, Aragorn, the rightful king of Gondor and leader of the race of men, realizes something: If Frodo doesn't destroy the Ring To Rule Them All, all of that ghost murder was meaningless. Unfortunately, Mister Frodo is deep in Mordor, beyond their help, and being hunted by Sauron. So Aragorn hatches an outrageously insane scheme: Let's pick a big fight to see if we can distract Sauron.
Aragorn starts rounding up the exhausted and beaten soldiers of Rohan and Gondor and marches toward the Black Gate. They're a small band of men and horses going up against the infinite hordes of orcs and ogres. That's something a giant evil eyeball would want to look at, right? All they have to do is fight back a limitless army long enough for their friend to ... oh, shit. Oh shit, this is a terrible plan.
Just the worst goddamn plan.
The entire point was to buy Frodo time, but they don't bother factoring that into their strategy at all -- they get surrounded immediately and the actual fight lasts about fifteen minutes. Out of sheer luck, Frodo happens to at that time be strolling right up to Mount Doom (they couldn't have known that) and destroys the ring right as Aragorn is getting his chest crushed by a troll. It is a dramatic, last-minute save! But did it have to be?
For all they knew, Frodo was still days or weeks away from making it to Mt. Doom, yet they picked the method that would buy Frodo the least amount of time possible. Why not come in with a plan to just immediately retreat as quickly as possible the moment the armies of Mordor march from the gates? Let them chase you for a while. Then, as soon as they give up and go back home and finish taking off their armor, do it again! Jerk them around.
"And remember the battle call of our people: 'LEEEEEEROOOOOY JENNNNNNNNKIIINSSS!'"
If they stop falling for it, well, Aragorn just came from a place with orc siege equipment lying around everywhere -- why not bring some of that? Build some fortifications or dig some trenches, make it clear that you're there for the long haul. This could have bought Frodo enough time to enjoy some of Mordor's tourist attractions and golf courses on his way to Mount Doom. A prolonged, defensive strategy that consists mostly of frantic retreat might not be as exciting for the audience as a rousing suicide mission, but you can bet Sauron's giant eye would have been glued to it out of sheer, morbid curiosity.
"What the hell are those ants doing over there?"
Ryan makes a weird, progressive kid's show you can watch here or follow him on Twitter. James has a Twitter and has recently tried his hand at blogging.
For more brilliant fictional strategists that are actually just lucky idiots, check out 6 Terrible Plans in Movies That Just Sort of Work Out and 6 Villain Plans That Make Absolutely No F**king Sense.
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