Best movie factual errors of all time

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Mission: Impossible picture

Factual error: The vents that Hunt and his sidekick crawl down at CIA Headquarters are standard galvanized steel box vents; they are very common in the building trade. Try walking or crawling down one - you'll make a noise like the sky is falling down. People will be able to hear you for miles. Every person in that building would know somebody crawling about in the vent system. (This error applies to dozens of films, not only this one).

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Top Gun: Maverick picture

Factual error: The radar guided SAMs are consistently evaded/triggered by the pilots' flares, which in reality only work against heat seeking missiles. Radar guided missiles would be defended against using chaff, basically clouds of aluminium foil strips. It was mentioned in some interviews they didn't want use chaff as it wouldn't really be visible for the audience - hence why they only deploy flares.

Jon Sandys

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Trainwreck picture

Factual error: When Amy is fired from S'Nuff magazine she takes her story on Aaron Connors to Vanity Fair, who run with it. That is not going to happen. Amy wrote the article while a paid employee of S'Nuff magazine and that means the copyright in the article (and, very relevant to this issue, the photographs of Aaron they paid to have taken), resides with them, not with her. It isn't hers to sell. No magazine editor of any standing is going to buy an unsolicited article without checking its provenance backwards and forwards, and that would mean checking with Amy's previous employers - after all, what would happen if they changed their minds and ran the story themselves?

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Battlefield Earth picture

Factual error: Amongst the essential parts of a nuclear weapon's detonation mechanism is a radioactive isotope of tritium, which has a half life of just 12 1/2 years. The tritium in every nuke on earth has to be replaced every ten years or so. This is by no means unusual; there are other perishable parts including detonators made of conventional explosives which would be completely inert after a thousand years. After lying dormant with no maintenance at all for that amount of time the nuclear weapons the 'Man-animals' find would be big shiny paperweights and not much else.

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Charlie's Angels picture

Factual error: Near the end of the film Knox is flying a Huey helicopter and the Angels hitch a ride by shooting it with a spear gun and dangling on the line behind it. Suddenly adding about 200kgs to a Huey in flight like that is going to cause all sorts of problems with the trim and airspeed of the aircraft - the pilot would know immediately that something was wrong. (01:23:20)

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Suggested correction: Knox wasn't a trained pilot. Either he had no clue to what was going on, or he thought something may have been wrong, but didn't know what to do about it.

Taking off and landing a helicopter are by far the most intense and difficult part of a pilot's training. Seriously, 99% of learning to fly is learning how to land and take off. If the pilot is skilled enough to take off in a Huey he is easily skilled enough to notice a massive additional drag on his helicopter due to the additional weight of the angels and the air resistance put up by such a bulky protrusion on his aircraft. If he isn't skilled enough to notice that, he isn't skilled enough to take off in the first place.

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Mysterious Island picture

Factual error: It is barely credible that a young Victorian woman like Elena would even think about wearing a goatskin miniskirt - exposing her legs in those days would be akin to walking about topless nowadays. Even if she did those bright yellow cotton knickers - gleefully visible in the scene in the beehive - are in no way from the 1860s. Her pants are a hundred years ahead of their time.

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The Great Escape picture

Factual error: Why is Hilts not wearing a uniform? A serving officer captured behind enemy lines in civilian clothing risked being shot as a spy. If a prisoner's uniform was too worn or damaged to wear, it was routine for the German authorities to replace it - a P.O.W. in civilian clothes is an obvious escape risk. He is wearing a pair of tan chinos, a cut off sloppy Joe sweatshirt, both ridiculously anachronistic - Sixties hipster fashions - and nowhere even close to a World War 2 uniform. He is also wearing Army Type III Service boots - something that would never have been issued to a fighter pilot.

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An Innocent Man picture

Factual error: At the end of the film Rainwood has established his innocence of the drug charges and is happily back at work as a senior mechanic for a large airline. However, part of the sentencing and plea bargain protocols at his arraignment is his previous conviction on a lesser drug charge years before. It goes without saying that he did not advise his employers of this when he started work for them - no airline in the world (even pre 9/11) would hire someone with a drug conviction on their record! Now this is out in the open the airline knows that Rainwood is a convicted drug user (on the lesser, legitimate charge) and that he lied on his original job application. They wouldn't hire him again to sweep the floors.

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Suggested correction: Even today in 2023 felony convictions might not show up on a background check. Not all information has been uploaded to the internet yet. It was extremely easy in the 1980's for a conviction to be missed by a background check especially if there was no prison time served or it occurred in a rural county or town.

He just got out of prison and establishing his innocence involved the violent deaths of at least two people. Do you not think that his employers just might have followed his story? He'd be all over the news media. The idea that not one person would have followed up on his criminal history is beyond absurd - we are talking about a safety critical job that involves the safety of hundreds of people.

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Die Hard 2 picture

Factual error: It is impossible for a stream of burning jet fuel to follow a plane through snow and catch up. Not only is jet fuel extremely hard to ignite, almost as soon as the plane was off the ground the fuel stream would be too dispersed for the flame to climb up into the tank, and even if not it wouldn't burn fast enough to catch the plane.

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The Irishman picture

Factual error: While handling the ignition coil cable to the distributor cap, Joe Pesci tells De Niro that the timing chain needs adjustment in his truck. A truck of that year with an inline Chevy motor would not have a timing chain at all, instead this truck would be equipped with a direct drive timing gear. Even if it had a timing chain, it would be behind the water pump and a cover. It would have been a several hour job to replace, not possible to adjust it.

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Bloodshot picture

Factual error: When Ray leaves his wife Gina and his car is hit by the truck he should still be in England, but when he is being chased through the streets he is in South Africa, the cops in the car are not in English police uniforms or vehicle, police livery is incorrect, and all vehicles have South Africa plates, not English number plates.

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Red Dragon picture Red Dragon mistake picture

Factual error: In the scene when Will is opening the drawer of films from the Leeds home, there is clearly a copy of Mrs. Doubtfire in the left column of tapes. How can that be? Red Dragon is clearly set "several years" after 1980, as the caption says, but before the 1991 Silence of the Lambs, but "Mrs. Doubtfire" came out in 1993.

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Con Air picture

Factual error: The whole basis of the trial and conviction of Cameron Poe is a crock. The judge can not arbitrarily mete out a sentence that is harsher based on the ability of someone to defend him/herself. In justifying the harsher sentence because of Poe's military skills, the judge effectively says that Poe is more guilty than an average person due to his honorable and decorated service in uniform to his country. In my entire time in law school, I never read one out of the literally hundreds of cases I was assigned in which a judge issued a harsher sentence because of someone's innate or learned abilities to defend themselves. But since this was a movie court room proceeding, the fact that Poe had a witness to the fight (his wife), the fact that he was injured in the fight, and the fact that his uniform was torn and otherwise ruined as a result of the fight are never examined. A D.A. wouldn't have taken this to a grand jury on a bet, because they would have never returned an indictment or "true bill."

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The Dirty Dozen picture

Factual error: During the war games they have Jefferson pose as a major in order to facilitate the commandeering of the ambulance and the jeep. Regardless of their personal feelings in the matter the ambulance crew and the driver and troops in the jeep would be perfectly aware that no black man would ever be promoted to a position of authority in an otherwise all white command. We may find it repugnant today but the US Army was rigidly segregated during World War 2 - and it stayed that way until 1948. Jefferson may have been inducted into a special unit like the Dirty Dozen but considering that the future of the entire mission is riding on their success at the games, throwing it all away like that makes no sense at all.

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Anna picture

Factual error: The movie starts in 1985, jumps '5 years later' and then back to Sasha Luss, then '3 years earlier'. So, in her crusty apartment in an impoverished neighbourhood of 1987 Soviet Russia, Anna is filling a form on her notebook-style laptop, too modern for the era. It looks like a NEC UltraLite (considered the first notebook style laptop) which didn't even come out until 1989, let alone the likelihood of someone in the USSR having one.

Sammo

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Murder on the Orient Express picture

Factual error: Both the Yugoslav police officers Poirot is speaking to at the end are black. The chances of a black person serving in the Yugoslav police in the 1930s were zero.

Necrothesp

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Bruce Almighty picture

Factual error: At the very end of the film Bruce is reporting on a drive for blood donors, and Grace leads him over to the booth to give blood himself - he is even wearing a tourniquet. However, he is supporting himself on a walking stick - he is not fully recovered from the injuries he received when he was run over, which happened when he was hit by a moving car - injuries which left him clinically dead. There is absolutely no way that a person who has suffered life threatening injuries and has undergone the (inevitably) intensive drug therapies and surgical procedures involved while under treatment in hospital in the fairly recent past would be allowed to give blood. There is no way that the Red Cross (or the US equivalent) would want to encourage people who have recently been hospitalised to try to give blood. Not only would that be the height of irresponsibility, they would be wasting precious resources and staff time turning away people who would not be allowed to give blood.

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Daredevil picture Daredevil mistake picture

Factual error: When we see the burning 'DD' in Joe Pantoliano's glasses it is not a reflection. The DD should be backwards in his glasses. (00:26:55)

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Journey to the Center of the Earth picture

Factual error: Trevor - a Professor of Geology - boasts about having an article published in Scientific American, and that is not something any scientist would do. Scientific American is looked upon with slight disdain by the scientific community, considered to be a populist crowd pleaser. It is not even peer reviewed. Considering that he has just turned the geological and archaeological worlds on their heads he would have been better off publishing in Journal of Geological Research or Geology, both prestigious professional journals.

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1917 picture

Factual error: The strong current of the river the main character falls into carries him to a considerable waterfall. There is not, nor has there ever been, a river of that kind in the Ecoust front line area, let alone a waterfall. Anyone who has any insight into the geography of the region will tell you it is flat as can be. The largest body of water, the Yzer, gently meanders and flows into the Channel, even during really rainy times.

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Suggested correction: I do not believe that either Ecoust or Croisilles Wood is in Flanders. Both are behind the old German lines at the Somme. That said, there are no bodies of water in that area.

Ecoust and Croissilles are in department Pas-De-Calais in the French Flanders, together with the Belgian flanders they are called Flanders Fields. It is indeed a flat area.

lionhead

Also, the message in ink delivered is legible, despite having been submerged in water. And don't get me started about the attack from ridiculous trenches and not a barbed wire in sight.

It's not. Even French Flanders is further north. But, even though there are some high points in the area, like Vimy Ridge that rises to about 500 feet above the surrounding plains, the slopes are quite gentle. And, as you say, wouldn't allow for the kind of drop seen in the movie.

There is a watercourse that goes through Croisilles... But it's basically a ditch.

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