When Stories suck
Which major movies have the biggest plot holes?
One of my favourites is Alfred Hitchcock's 39 Steps, because this film should not be longer than 12 minutes:
What happens is that Robert Hannay is asked by Annabella Smith for help because she is being followed. He takes her home to his place. Now:
- As Hannay looks through his window down on the street, there are two men, that want to silence Annabella Smith, waiting right under a street light (the rest of the street is plunged in darkness) and watching Hannay's flat.
- Hannay lets Annabella use his bedroom for the night and sleeps in another room.
- In the middle of the night, Annabella comes in, freshly stabbed in the back, and dies in front of Hannay's eyes. This means, that the two men – whatever they had been waiting for under the street light – at some point decided to break into Hannay's place, immediately found the right room (as Hannay did not wake up), stabbed Annabella (but did not make sure she is really dead), and left the house again without killing Hannay, too, who would be a potential eye witness.
- On the next morning, when Hannay tries to leave, these two men are still waiting on the street … for what?
So actually Hannay should be dead too with credits rolling at approximately 12min30.
But as Hitchcock always said: he was never really interested in plot logic.
Another example, which I am deeply sorry about, is unfortunately Casino Royale - my favorite Bond so far and one of the finest action films around. However, the most important scene, the one scene that the whole story and the title of the film point at, has a fatal plot flaw: Bond wins poker against Le Chiffre.
But: Bond does not win the poker match because of his skills … but simply because of luck. It is deus ex machina – and therefore an embarrassing plot hole.
The whole warm up to this poker showdown is about Bond trying to figure out, when Le Chiffre is bluffing and when he is not. First he thinks he has figured it out, then he finds himself double bluffed and loses everything, then Felix Leiter comes in with the "gift" of rebuying Bond into the game, then Le Chiffre tries to have Bond killed and Vesper brings him back to life – man, have the stakes been raised! Everything is by the book of storytelling, the hero's journey is scripted in utmost perfection! And then what?
- The final round: Four players in the game … wait, four players? Le Chiffre plus Bond plus two more? That means, that the other two played just as well as Bond did. He is no way better / more skilled / more heroic than the other ones.
- Le Chiffre raises after the other two guys, but before Bond – he raises … but he doesn't go "all in". Then Bond goes "all in". And what does Le Chiffre do? He calls! Man, he can see the poker on the table! Flop, Turn, River, everything is there! And Le Chiffre has a Full House Aces full of 6s. He has to know that if someone goes "all in" right after him and against and after two others (!) this person is certainly not going to bluff! But OK – let's assume Le Chiffre was too nervous to see things clearly; after all for him it is a game on life or death.
- But then Fortuna lets Bond win. Bluffing is not the subject anymore. He also does not use any tricks to assure (!) that he will win. And as noted earlier, he is also not a better poker player than the other three at the table because they are still there, too. All that happened was that Bond got the better hand. Give me a break!
Yes, the whole poker stuff is well directed, filmed and edited and full of suspense. But if Bond really would have wanted to win – would he really have relied on being lucky?
So unfortunately we have to blame it on the writers here …