5 Movie Heroes Who'd Be Headed Right To Jail
Have you ever watched a movie and thought, "There's no way these characters can explain what just happened to the police?" No? You prefer to maintain your suspension of disbelief? That must be fun, cowards. Well, in case you were curious, there are a ton of cinematic scenarios that will lead to awkward conversations with the cops after the credits roll. For instance ...
The Shape Of Water: "A Godlike Creature Killed That Military Official, We Swear!"
In case you haven't seen The Shape Of Water, here's a rundown: It's 1962, and as the Cold War is raging, we meet two janitors (Elisa and Zelda) who work at a top secret government facility. An amphibious humanoid creature is brought there for study by Colonel Richard Strickland, a war hero who caught him in the Amazon. Elisa and the creature bond over music, their misfit status, and delicious, delicious eggs. But this is a problem, because the American government and Russian spies are considering killing the creature.
So to save him, Zelda, Elisa, her neighbor Giles, and scientist / Russian spy Dr. Hoffstetler break him out. This works out, but Strickland starts a campaign of torture and murder to find the creature and get it back. Eventually, though, in an appropriately dramatic rainstorm, the creature slashes Strickland's throat before he and Elisa flee to live as merman and wife.
Meanwhile, Zelda and Giles are left with confused cops, a missing woman they both knew, and the dead body of a war hero. You know the military and government will likely deny all knowledge of the whole thing, so they're on their own. What are they going to say? "A gentle cat-eating beast killed the colonel, embraced our friend, exposed the gills on her neck, and swam away with her, just as John F. Kennedy would've wanted"?
So now what? Will they tell the truth and say they colluded with a Russian spy, broke a test subject out of a secret lab, and then kept the monster in a bathtub for several weeks? But if they lie, what possible story could make sense of all this shit? At best they'll ramble in front of a judge and spend years as the subject of Weekly World News-esque headlines alongside Bat Boy and "My husband slept with an alien!" stories.
Related: 25 Movie Heroes You Didn't Know Were Breaking The Law
Mama: "A Ghost Took My Child! Really!"
In a nutshell, Mama is about a ghost harassing the people who adopted two girls after their father attempted to kill them. The movie kicks off with a stockbroker going on a rampage after he loses everything, and he then finds himself in a cabin, about to kill his daughters. Fortunately, Mama, the ghost, kills him and then raises the girls, Lily and Victoria.
About five years later, their uncle Lucas and his girlfriend Annabel find the girls, and they are placed in their custody. Before you can say "jump scare," Mama is doing her best to get her kids back. The kids' psychiatrist, Dreyfus, learns that Mama is Edith Brennan, a woman who sprung herself from a mental institution in 1978, and jumped off a cliff with her child. However, the child got impaled on a tree branch and didn't fall into the water with her, so her spirit is left roaming the woods looking for her kid. Naturally, she was excited when she found a two-for-one deal.
Mama eventually kidnaps Lily and Victoria so she can recreate the fall from the same cliff. In a good news / bad news situation, Annabel convinces Mama to give her Victoria, but Mama takes Lily off the cliff with her ... whereupon they turn into moths. The movie ends on a positive note, but Annabel and Lucas are screwed because, well, one of their adopted children is now an insect. And I don't know how the police are going to react to "No, it's cool. She's not missing, she's a moth now that lives with another moth who used to be a murderous ghost." In the world of law enforcement, this is how mentally ill child-killers confess.
But once again, if the survivors realize how crazy the story sounds, what do they say instead? They can't produce the missing child no matter what. Do they claim she ran away? Died in an accident that left nothing behind? How many witnesses can attest to how weird the adoptive parents were acting prior to the disappearance? And that's before we get to Dreyfus and other superfluous characters who were killed along the way, leaving Lucas and Annabel at the center of a pile of dead bodies and, again, only one of their two children. Even without evidence, Mama 2 is just a couple screaming "LOOK AT THE MOTHS! I SWEAR IT'S THE MOTHS!" from their life sentences in a jail cell.
Pineapple Express: "None Of These Crimes Were Our Fault! We're Innocent Stoners!"
Pineapple Express is a violent stoner comedy about a process server named Dale and his two drug-dealing buddies, Saul and Red, killing a surprising amount of people. Why? Dale is sent to serve some papers when he witnesses a cop and a drug lord named Ted killing a mobster, putting him in their crosshairs. After many shenanigans, Dale, Saul, and Red get caught in the middle of a shootout between Ted's gang and other gang in an underground drug bunker.
Producer Judd Apatow said the idea behind this movie was to see what would happen if Brad Pitt's character from True Romance was "chased around by bad guys." It's a fun idea that ended up involving murder, theft, explosions, car chases, hitmen, corrupt cops, dealing weed to middle schoolers, being arrested, stealing cop cars, and a grown man breaking up with his high schooler girlfriend over the phone. It all ends with the good guys coming out on top -- which, as you can guess by now, is going to be a short-term victory.
At best, Dale is going to be wanted for a felony hit and run and dealing drugs, while Saul stole a police car and led another police car on a massive chase that ended with that car's destruction. But these guys are going to show up incredibly stoned at the hospital with gun wounds and multiple injuries, having to explain that everyone who hunted them is dead, and most likely burned to ash after the drug lair's explosion. And the police officer who arrested Dale for selling drugs might've helped him plead his case, since she believed his story ... until her car was stolen by Saul.
Sure, the plot of the movie makes it all seem like self-defense and desperation. But even if the cops believe the truth, would these three really want to tell it? Would they want to implicate the mobsters? Would they admit to killing people? Or dealing drugs? Will Red reveal his stash of illegal guns? The moment they start editing their story to maximize their innocence, holes and contradictions are going to appear.
These are guys who stopped for breakfast before getting their gun wounds taken care of, and I can't imagine the cops -- and a jury -- not thinking the whole thing is suspicious as hell, considering their best defense is: "All of the people who could possibly attest to wrongdoing on our part are now dead, because we killed them."
Related: 5 Movie Heroes Who Caused Their Own Biggest Problems
Gone In 60 Seconds: "The Detective Said Those Car Thefts Are Fine!"
Gone In 60 Seconds taught the world a very important lesson: If you're a career criminal who inadvertently aids police in bringing down a crime lord, you will be given a free pass, despite the fact that you helped steal 50 exotic cars and led the cops on a sprawling chase that resulted in several officers being severely injured by garbage trucks and wrecking balls.
The protagonist is Nic Cage's Randall "Memphis" Raines, a reformed car thief who is forced to reunite his old gang for a big heist. They must steal 50 cars as recompense for Raine's brother's failed attempt at stealing 50 cars for a woodworking crime lord, Raymond "The Carpenter" Calitiri. Basically, if "the cars aren't on the boat, your brother's in the coffin" (which he made ... because he's a carpenter.)
Memphis and co. pull it off, but they get cornered by a Detective Castlebeck. But then, right as Castlebeck is about to be killed by the Carpenter, Memphis saves him! Remember, when a lead character is named after a location ("Memphis," "Tex," "Brooklyn," etc.), they'll ultimately be a good guy. That's Screenwriting 101. And Castlebeck lets them go out of gratitude ... which is a decision that will be a little hard to explain to his superiors.
Is Castlebeck going to tell them he gave Memphis a free pass for saving his life? Is ... is law enforcement just allowed to do that? Because that seems like it might have a few hundred loopholes. And if Memphis is ever arrested, will he be like, "What? I thought Castlebeck said we were cool because I helped stop the Carpenter! Why is he called 'the Carpenter'? Well, funny story ..."
The judge is going to find it amusing that Memphis, who'd been doing this shit his whole life, considered himself totally exonerated. And considering that he never really worked with the cops (he just wanted to save his brother) and demolished a ton of police equipment in the course of his many car chases, he'd better hope that detective has some favors due from some very powerful friends. Like, we're talking on the level of "Has the only copy of a sex tape involving the president and at least three members of the Supreme Court."
San Andreas: "Yes, I Stole A Precious Rescue Helicopter, But It Was For A Good Reason!"
Los Angeles Fire Department rescue pilot Ray Gaines (a name you forgot five minutes into the movie, because hey, it's The Rock) ditches work after an earthquake destroys the West Coast. His family is spread out between Los Angeles and San Francisco, and all of them are in mortal danger. Being a hero and a take-charge kind of guy, The Rock steals a helicopter, then a truck, trades that truck for an airplane, and finally a stolen boat. In the end, thousands are dead, but Gaines, his family, and two British kids are alive. Whatever it takes, dammit! That's the hero's creed!
We may sound harsh here, because yeah, his family and those two randos are alive, and that's cool. But the minute the world is starting to get back to normal, his co-workers and bosses are going to want to have a word with him. Why? Because while it's always frowned on to steal a multi-million-dollar government aircraft on any normal day, in this situation it's much, much worse. In Action Movie Reality, you grab whatever vehicle gets you to the next cool stunt. But in Reality Reality, Gaines just left a lot of people dead.
According to the Los Angeles Fire Department Air Operations website, they only have four of this type of vehicle. When Gaines went lovably rogue, so did 25% of the medium-range rescue helicopters in LA, in the middle of the greatest disaster in the city's history. Gaines' absence also leaves a lack of skilled pilots who understand the geography of LA and the workings of the rescue chopper. And while he'll be happy with his very-much-alive family, explaining the situation to the higher-ups (and probably the press) will be an issue. To make matters even worse, he is former special forces. His buddies are going to love hearing about how he went AWOL from his vital rescue job.
But let's face it, the authorities are absolutely going to press charges here, probably tacking on everything they can think of. It's kind of important to set an example, unless you want all of America's emergency workers thinking that when a disaster strikes, we're suddenly all living under Purge rules.
Check out Mark Hofmeyer's podcast Movies, Films and Flix anywhere you listen to podcasts. He just unleashed a new podcast series about the dumb movie data he puts together which has been covered on Cracked, The A.V Club, Bloody Disgusting, Dread Central, ComicBook.com, and Wired.
For more, check out 4 Movie Heroes Who Would Be Villains Today:
Also, we'd love to know more about you and your interesting lives, dear readers. If you spend your days doing cool stuff, drop us a line at iDoCoolStuff at Cracked dot com, and maybe we can share your story with the entire internet.
Follow us on Facebook. Or don't. It's your life.