The 12 biggest plot holes in film history
Nothing ruins a movie like a baffling great plot hole.
While few would begrudge a film for bending the truth a little in the name of entertainment, inconsistency issues can easily derail films and take a viewer right out of the action.
It might sound trivial to question the logistics of films like Toy Story and Star Wars – especially when they contain talking toys and aliens – but the bigger mistakes do ruin a little of the magic.
From spectacular sci-fi snafus to classic comedy clunkers, these are the plot holes that frustrate us the most.
Oceans Eleven proved to be one of the slickest heist thrillers in decades back in 2001, but it features a significant plot hole, albeit one that's easy enough to miss. We're told that the fake SWAT team swapped out the money in the vault for bags full of escort flyers — but how did they get the bags down there in the first place? None of the team can be seen carrying them, and it’s a flaw in the film’s elaborate and otherwise impressive reveal.
Just how did Andy Dufresne reattach the Raquel Welch poster in his cell so perfectly after escaping through the tunnel? Viewers have speculated that the top corners could have been fastened from the inside, but probably not the bottom two corners — certainly not as seamlessly as we see in the movie. It’s something of a talking point among fans and was even parodied in an episode of Family Guy. It might seem inconsequential, but it does detracts from the plausibility of the story.
There are plenty of plot holes in the Star Wars franchise, thanks mainly to narrative and timeline problems caused by the prequel films. However, arguably the biggest quirk comes at the end of the Episode III: Revenge of the Sith, when we learn that Obi-Wan Kenobi has taken it upon himself to protect baby Luke Skywalker from his father. How does he plan to do it? By keeping his surname and taking him to Darth Vader’s home planet of Tatooine, of course. Nice work, Obi-Wan — he’ll never think to look there.
Back To The Future
As fans will remember, Back to the Future sees Marty McFly successfully travel back in time, uniting his parents, saving their relationship and ensuring he continues to exist in the future. So, how come Marty’s parents don't remember him? Surely Marty’s mum and dad would have eventually twigged and come to recognise him as the man who set them up in the first place? Apparently not.
The Dark Knight Rises
Despite star turns from Tom Hardy and Anne Hathaway, and the stylish direction of Christopher Nolan, The Dark Knight Rises was the least impressive of the modern Batman trilogy — something which could be explained by the film’s few niggly plot holes. At one point in the film, Commander Gordon decides to send the entire Gotham police force underground at once, where they are trapped by Bane. This is enough of a stretch in itself, but eventually the force are rescued, and they show up impeccably dressed, in fine health and without so much as a hair out of place after months of living in squalid conditions.
The film’s ending is also questionable. It’s unclear whether Caine’s Alfred actually saw Bruce Wayne and Selina Kyle in a Florence cafe, or just dreamed it. However, the suggestion is that Wayne survived the bomb blast after flying the device away from Gotham in the Batplane, with Morgan Freeman's Fox discovering that the craft's autopilot system had been fixed by Wayne six months previously. The viewer is led to believe that the hero is alive and well, living life as a anonymous civilian. In reality though, Wayne is an internationally recognised business magnate, who has featured on the front of TIME magazine — there’s no way he would have been able to enjoy a quiet life anywhere without strangers pushing cell phones in his face every time he left the house and the news of his survival getting out.
The Karate Kid
This is one of simplest errors on the list. The referee overseeing the climactic battle in cheesy 80s favourite the Karate Kid repeatedly tells competitors that kicks to the face are not allowed. Later, however, we see protagonist Daniel pull off the crane kick move and win by booting his challenger square in the head. Did we miss something?
Unlike the rest of Andy’s toys in Toy Story, Buzz Lightyear actually believes he is a space ranger at the beginning of the film, thinking he has arrived on a strange planet with “no signs of intelligent life anywhere”. However, if he thinks he truly is a space ranger, why does he freeze like all the other toys when humans walk into the room?
It's also a little confusing that Buzz has retained knowledge of Star Command and believes his toy's backstory in the follow-up film, while Woody is totally unaware of his character's story and doesn't recognise the Round-up Gang when he meets them in Toy Story 2.
Armageddon is a big, dumb action movie, with an ever bigger, dumber plot hole at its heart. The film sees Ben Affleck, Bruce Willis and their oil driller buddies head into outer space to save the world. However, wouldn’t it have been easier to train astronauts to drill, rather than teaching a bunch of oil rig operatives how to pilot a mission into outer space? Ben Affleck has made no qualms about this plot hole, even revealing in the DVD commentary that he raised the issue with director Michael Bay while filming — Bay, unimpressed with being questioned, allegedly told him to “shut the f*** up”.
Sci-fi thriller Gravity saw Sandra Bullock’s Dr Ryan Stone battle to stay alive following a catastrophic debris strike, tackling the most challenging conditions in zero gravity.
The film is by no means 100 per cent accurate though. The film’s biggest emotional punch comes when George Clooney’s Lieutenant Kowalski sacrifices himself to give Bullock’s character a greater chance of survival. The moment comes when the pair find themselves clinging on to different ends of Kowalski’s security rope. Kowalski chooses to disconnect and drift off into space rather than pull Stone along with him. However, due to the laws of physics in zero gravity, all Bullock’s Stone had to do was tug the rope and he would have drifted safely towards her and the satellite.
A Quiet Place
A Quiet Place is one of the most enjoyable horrors of recent times. We love it, but we have to admit it’s riddled with logical flaws and inconsistencies. First up, the Abbott family are seen walking along trails of sand and ash in order to dampen their footsteps, but how did the family lay the trails in the first place without the aliens hearing?
Next, there’s a moment when John Krasinski’s Lee takes his son Marcus to a nearby river, shouting up into a loud waterfall to show that the alien creatures can’t hear them here. It begs the question – why don’t they just move closer to the river? Surely it’d be a whole lot safer than the quiet, isolated stretch of farmland they actually live in. It’s a testament to how good the film is that we’re prepared to overlook all these inconsistencies and enjoy the film for what it is – a thrill ride through the alien apocalypse.
Lara Croft: Tomb Raider
The kind of plot hole that gives directors and scriptwriters nightmares can be found in Lara Croft: Tomb Raider – Angelina Jolie’s fun but flawed video game adaptation from 2001. The film focuses on Lara Croft’s mission to protect the world from the Illuminati, who are planning to use an artefact called the Triangle during a solar eclipse to inflict devastation on the world – a peak 00s plot if ever we’ve heard one.
We learn that the Triangle is split into two parts, and after acquiring the first of them in Cambodia, Croft sets off on another perilous journey to retrieve the second in Siberia. The problem is, we already know the Triangle can’t work without both halves, so all Croft had to do was destroy the half she already had in her possession and the job would be done.
Jack. Could. Have. Fit. On. The. Door.