Factual error: In circling over Washington Dulles, a plane would fly over several airports that they could land at with perfect communication, including Richmond, Baltimore, Andrews AFB, etc. Also, there is no communication from the airport to the plane but the plane would be in range of no fewer than 15 transmitting stations that could have relayed messages.
Plot hole: The only reason the terrorists' plot can work is that the airports around Dulles are all closed to landings because of the violent snowstorm. If there were no storm, the pilots of the airliners in the holding pattern would simply divert to nearby airports when they started running low on fuel. If they were able to do that, the whole plot would simply fall apart. How were the terrorists able to count on the storm happening on the very day General Esperanza's flight was due to land? They didn't have any influence over the date of his flight. How did they know the storm would be so bad that all airports would be closed - except Dulles? I don't think they had any way of predicting the weather quite that accurately, and If the storm hadn't hit or had been even slightly less severe the pilots of the stranded airliners could easily have diverted to any one of half a dozen alternate landing sites, including a nearby Air Force base. They could do this without consulting or even contacting air traffic control. The whole plot falls apart from there - no hostages, no leverage, and who cares what happens to the people on Esperanza's plane? They'd have it shot down as soon as they knew Esperanza had killed the pilot and taken over the flight.
Factual error: When McClane is trapped in the cockpit of Esperanza's plane, and the terrorists throw grenades in, it sure takes them a long time to explode. At least a good 20 seconds passes before he ejects from the plane and the grenades go off. Normal grenades would have gone off long before 20 seconds.poehitman
Continuity mistake: When Mclane is desperately trying to get his fallen Beretta from the conveyor, he flicks the on switch to the conveyor. The terrorist then sprints down the conveyor to try and get the gun before Mclane, and you can see in the first shot of the terrorist running, that he is virtually at the gun immediately. The camera cuts to Mclane, and then back to the terrorist who is now significantly further away from the gun than he was before.GalahadFairlight
Factual error: Firing a full magazine of blank cartridges from an automatic weapon in the police station office as McClane does would be painfully loud. Nobody shows the slightest effect - nobody even winces. Obviously the gunfire flash was a visual effect and the sound was looped in later. (01:37:40)
Plot hole: The whole of Col. Stuart's plot to free General Esperanza and flee to a country with no US extradition laws would be rather impossible, as the plane with Esperanza and the terrorists would have been brought down by US Air Force long before reaching international waters, especially given the fact that they would not maintain control over the airport landing systems after taking off.Igor Babichev
Continuity mistake: Bruce Willis is emerging from an underground air-vent when the plane with General Esperanza is landing. Initially the plane is coming on a direct course for him and he struggles to get out. In fact the front wheel is on course with and knocks the vent cover. But in the very next scene, the tire marks clearly show the front wheel passed to the right of the vent and so completely missed it. (01:11:40)
Factual error: Near the beginning of the film when John McClane goes to the pay phone and calls his wife Holly on the airplane, that was impossible at the time. Those phones you see on the seats on the plane can only be used from the air to the ground not the other way around. Holly does answer on the plane phone and not on any cell phone she had in her purse. Not to mention even if it was possible to call the planes from the ground, they could do that to warn them of what's going on below and prevent more crashes. (00:04:20)
Factual error: When McClane (Bruce Willis) is brought into Capt. Lorenzo's (Dennis Franz) office at Dulles Airport for the first time, Lorenzo mentions that McClane was in violation of several District of Columbia laws. Dulles Airport is in Virginia, not DC, therefore any DC laws would not apply to Dulles. (Although VA may very well have similar laws about airport misconduct.) (00:19:55)
Factual error: At the end when John lights the fuel with a lighter, this isn't possible with Jet A-1 which is what the Boeing 747 is fuelled with. This type of fuel is extremely hard to light. Even if you drop a match into a bowl of jet A-1, it will not ignite. Jet A-1 has to be compressed or have its temperature raised to a minimum of 38c/100f in order to ignite (which the compressing also does) so fuel in snow would never ignite in the way shown.
Continuity mistake: In the beginning of the movie when John is sitting at a table in the airport smoking a cigarette, you see him notice the table with the 3 (2 white and 1 black) guys that are acting suspicious. When the black guy gets up to leave, he leans down and you see a hand grab a package. If you notice, the hand that grabs the package is white. Later when the two white guys leave, one of them leans down to grab the package and it's the same shot that was used when the black guy grabbed his package. (00:08:50)
Continuity mistake: When Col. Stuart is talking to Gen. Esperanza on the walkie-talkie about what runway to land on, behind Stuart you can see one of his men walk up to the map of the runways. Stuart turns around and starts walking to the map and the guy isn't there anymore. When Stuart gets in front of the map, the guy comes up and tells him which runway Esperanza should land on. (01:09:05)
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