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."
Factual error: Just before Declan and the Jackal start shooting at each other in the subway tunnel, one of the trains starts coming from the opposite direction and begins passing Declan. This train continues to pass him at full speed for a full 35-40 seconds while they shoot it out. Subway trains are not nearly long enough for that. Also, during this time another train comes from behind him and he has to get between them and hold onto the light for a few seconds while they pass. But the second train then passes first while the first one passes fully about 2 seconds after the second one came... and it got there first, by about 15-20 seconds. Subway lines are about the same length as each other as well. But the first one was way longer and way wrong. (01:49:30 - 01:50:05)
Factual error: Towards the middle of the film,Pacino and Depp are walking downtown, there is alot of traffic and some of the cars are "post 1978" model . One in particular caught my eye, which was a mid-80's Ford Taurus (even the model of the car didn't exist in 1978).
Factual error: Why is there a stellar observatory in the middle of a very large city, most of the stars would be drowned out by the city lights to the point of the observatory being useless. Also, the dome is very high up on top of a "building". Such buildings need to flex a little bit in the wind to keep them from breaking, this would make it impossible for the telescope to focus on anything for a timed exposure of film to make those neat pictures of galaxies and such. (00:35:20)
Factual error: In the scene where Lt. Exley arrives at the Night Owl after the murder, the patrol officer is wearing a Safariland velcro-fastened handcuff case on his left hip. That style of rounded cuff case was not introduced until the early to mid 70s.
Factual error: In the hangar scene when Castor and Archer point their guns at each other, if Castor's gun was really empty the slide would be locked back.
Factual error: When Wesley Snipes, Diane Lane and Dennis Miller are climbing through the sewer system to get to the White House, Lane looks up and says that they must be under the National Mall because there's Pennsylvania Avenue. That is incorrect. The National Mall is located behind the White House. Pennsylvania Avenue is the street in front. They do not intersect.
Factual error: John Cusack arrives in Grosse Pointe, Michigan and drives through the downtown area while we hear Minnie Driver's voice-over. He not only passes some storefronts at least twice, but one of the storefronts has a large yellow and brown awning reading "Monrovia Beauty Supply," which is located in Monrovia, California.
Factual error: During the remote control car chase the bad guys' minivan drives directly over it at one point. From the view of the toy car, you can see a driveshaft running down the centre of the undercarriage, which would be impossible on a front-wheel-drive vehicle like the Nissan Quest they're driving, which use half axles to drive the front wheels.
Factual error: During the scene where Charlie's thug, Lo, is in the street with the homeless man and his "busket", Lo gets angry at him, pulls his Glock out and rakes the slide to chamber a round. However, in the next shots of Lo we see his Glock with the slide still back even though it should have returned to the closed position.
Factual error: Near the end of the trial, Gere is trying to remember what the murdered girl was saying over the phone and only gets out a few words in Chinese, "Wo Men De" which means "Our". His lawyer fills in the entire rest of the sentence with, "Wo Men De Guan Xi Wan Le," which means "Our relationship is over." How could she know exactly what the girl said on the phone, and how could the judge allow her to put words in Richard Gere's mouth?
Factual error: In early scenes, Lieutenant Commander Ramirez is wearing insignia for Lieutenant, not Lieutenant Commander. Later scenes have him wearing the correct insignia.