IMDb Polls

Poll: Ten Movie Characters' Incomprehensible Mistakes

*** MAJOR SPOILERS !!! ***

We all make mistakes, don't we? Indeed, it is a common trope to have a movie character making the one mistake that ultimately causes or accelerates his downfall. In One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest (1975): McMurphy never leaves the institution when he has countless opportunities, in Sunset Blvd. (1950), Joe comes back to Norma, in Heat (1995), Neil needs to kill Waingro instead of fleeing, in Scarface (1983), Tony Montana refuses the banker's rates, and precipitates his downfall by making an enemy out of Sosa etc.

But these are not the tragic mistakes this poll is about -- those with a 'good' reason to happen. The following list contains ten really bad mistakes... made under circumstances where the character could really think twice before making the choice. These ten moves were so badly thought, so ridiculously doomed to fail or so dangerously stupid that even the fans of the movies have a hard time justifying them.

Now, since nothing is really irrational, the main justification for these mistakes can always be found: ego, hubris, overestimating the enemy's stupidity, or, from a screenwriter's perspective, the fact that there would be no story otherwise. But seriously, which of these ten mistakes do you find the hardest to accept, no matter how good the film is?

You may discuss the list here

Make Your Choice

  1. Vote!

    "The Godfather" Marlon Brando, Lenny Montana 1972 Paramount Pictures

    "Go to the Tattaglias, and tell them you're not too happy with our Family."

    The mistake: Luca Brasi was Vito's most valuable soldier, but he wasn't exactly the brightest bulb in the box. So why send him in a mission that merely consists of collecting information? And pretending to betray the Don while everybody knew his loyalty was unshakable. No wonder the Turk thought the Don was slipping.

    The consequence: Luca Brasi sleeps with the fishes, and Vito ends up concluding the deal, it only cost him the life of a son, and the promising (law-abiding) career of another.

    Alternative: If his Sicilian instinct (rightfully) warned him about an upcoming danger, then he should have made Luca a full-time bodyguard and send someone else go spy on the enemy.

  2. Vote!

    Robert De Niro in Casino (1995)

    "I'd consider it a personal favor if you'd let him back into the casino"

    The mistake: After firing the incompetent manager and refusing to reinstate him, Rothstein provokes the anger of his brother-in-law, County Comissioner Pat Webb, despite the fact that his gaming license was still 'pending', he had to keep a low profile and that Webb asked him nicely to reconsider.

    The consequence: Webb makes sure Ace's license is rejected, Aces brings bad publicity by accusing the city government of corruption, Police moves into the picture, thus considerably decreasing the life expectancy of 95% of the protagonists. And that's that.

    Alternative: Webb himself admitted that his brother-in-law was "as useless as tits on a boar", so Ace could have just read between the lines and consider any job as a fine way to have Webb on his payroll. And any low-rank job would've been fine: picking up the cigarette butts, keeping the ice cubes cold... or counting blueberries in the muffins.

  3. Vote!

    Christoph Waltz in Django Unchained (2012)

    "Here in Chickasaw County, a deal ain't done till the two parties have shook hands."

    The mistake: Why go through the trouble of concluding a deal with Candie without endangering the life of Broomhilda and Django, to snap at the last minute and kill Candie... and then, just wait for Butch to kill him in response?

    The consequence: By cancelling out Candie's contract and refusing to compromise his principles, King commits a sort of self-sacrifice, Django and Broomhilda ultimately triumphs after many messy blood baths. But King couldn't anticipate it. He pretty much died without knowing if Django and Broomhilda would survive.

    Alternative: All right, it's a matter of principles and there was no way Candie would get away with his 'skull' speech: King "couldn't resist". Still, why not just 'pretend to shake hands', put Broomhilda in a safe place and then figure a way to make Candie regret his words.

  4. Vote!

    Jack Nicholson and John Huston in Chinatown (1974)

    "You may think you know what you're dealing with, but, believe me, you don't."

    The mistake: Near the end of the film, Jake learns about Evelyn's secret and how dangerous her powerful father, Noah Cross, is; he slips out of the police and tells his friend to take Evelyn in Chinatown. At that point, no one could tell where Evelyn was. Yet Jake finds nothing better to do than confronting the same day, Noah Cross, with the only evidence that could have put him away (the broken glasses) and without any protection or weapon.

    The consequence: Noah brought Claude with him, Claude takes the glasses and threatens Jake with death if he doesn't take them to Chinatown. One hour later, Jake realizes that he should have done "as little as possible".

    Alternative: Why such a hurry? How about 'waiting' for Evelyn to leave L.A. and then finally give the evidence to the Police?

  5. Vote!

    Al Pacino in Dog Day Afternoon (1975)

    "So long, copper."

    The mistake: Feeling that the black limo driver got a little too overconfident at the end, Sonny figures out that he might be a cop. He says to Agent Sheldon "do you think you're dealing with an idiot?" and then he simply settles on Agent Murphy.

    The consequence: Sonny will never fly to Algeria, and Sal will never see Wyoming, ever.

    Alternative: How about picking any random guy for the 'driving' part to make sure he wasn't briefed by the Police before.

  6. Vote!

    Robert De Niro in Taxi Driver (1976)

    "She appeared like an angel. Out of this filthy mess, she is alone."

    The mistake: Despite his love for Betsy, and his contempt for the filthy streets of New York, Travis thought it would be a good idea to take his angel to see a Swedish sex Education movie.

    The consequence: The descent into madness starts, but one must be disturbed already to take the girl he wants to impress to watch a porn movie.

    Alternative: Any Kung-fu movie, any fast-food or just playing charades would've been a better option.

  7. Vote!

    Vincent D'Onofrio, R. Lee Ermey, and Matthew Modine in Full Metal Jacket (1987)

    "What's your major malfunction, numbnuts?"

    The mistake: Maybe Gunnery Hartman was already a dead man, but why taking chances with an additional insult? especially when you have Pyle's psychopathic stare and rifle pointing at you, and when a non-joking Private Joker just warned you.

    The consequence: The only 'consolation' is that Hartman probably died before hitting the ground.

    Alternative: Just get the hell out of his range.

  8. Vote!

    Al Pacino in Carlito's Way (1993)

    "Mr Brigante, this is the second time you turned me down for a drink. What, you don’t like my champagne?"

    The mistake: No, the mistake wasn't to spare Benny Blanco's life, at that point, it was already over. Carlito turns down Benny Blanco two times, for nothing but politely offered drinks, and then treats him like a punk. All right, he was a punk, but why making a source of troubles in a guy who doesn't want troubles in the first place?

    The consequence: The feud escalates, and at the end, Blanco puts an end on Carlito's dreams.

    Alternative: How about just accepting Benny's drinks and treat him with respect, just a matter of curtesy.

  9. Vote!

    Michael Douglas and Glenn Close in Fatal Attraction (1987)

    "This is not gonna stop. It keeps going on and on."

    The mistake: After the 'rabbit' and the 'car' incident, enough was enough for Dan, who barges into Alex' appartment and attacks her. The fight is brutal and comes close to end with a death. Yet, after overpowering Alex, Dan leaves the apartment and asks the Police to arrest her.

    The consequence: Well, what do you know! Alex disappears, and we know we'll have a second round.

    Alternative: Since his family's life was at stakes, then how about neutralizing Alex, and then call the Police? (Of course this also had to do with the alternate ending that had Alex committing suicide after the attack, but within the actual narrative of the film, Dan leaving Alex made no sense whatsoever)

  10. Vote!

    Yves Montand and Charles Vanel in The Wages of Fear (1953)

    "When someone else is driving, I'm scared."

    The mistake: Mario finally arrives at the oil field with the nytroglycerine cargo, he's the only surviving member of the truck-driving team. The day after, after being rewarded, he refuses the appointed driver and drives his way home aboard the same truck, then he joyfully and recklessly swerves on the road.

    The consequence: This time, Mario couldn't cheat death. That the truck was freed from its dangerous cargo and that he had all the time to come back, make his death even more pointless.

    Alternative: Just drive safely, Mario!

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