Sunday, August 25, 2019
Just for fun, let's look at the plot holes in Under Siege 2: Dark Territory!
Let me start out by saying that I love this movie, and I actually think it's superior to the original. For one thing, we don't have a bimbo Playboy model running around trying to act tough (or trying to act, period.) We don't have Ryback enlisting a support group to help him carry out his mission to Stop the Bad Guys from Nuking SomethingTM- except for a single porter, he's on his own, which is the way the best of these The One Guy They Didn't Count On Stands In Their Way films always plays it. Eric Bogosian is actually more interesting as the computer-wizard bad guy than Gary Busey and Tommy Lee Jones were as they spent most of their time just chewing up the scenery.
I think I just like the plot better: Crazy guy is going to seize control of a killer satellite and use it to nuke Washington DC and in the process collect $1 billion from America's enemies. He knows about the satellite because he built it, strongly suggesting Timothy Olyphant's computer-hacker genius character in 2006's Live Free Or Die Hard. I think I just like killer satellites. So I'm sold right off the bat.
That being said, Under Siege 2: Dark Territory certainly requires the viewer to suspend his level of disbelief more than the original does. Here are a few head-scratchers (let's stick to the plan and call them Plot Holes, or perhaps Plot Canyons) I pick up every time I watch this film:
1. Why a train? Sure, that's where the security techs who have the password to the killer satellite are, but that's no reason to hijack an entire train and hold potentially hundreds (though it appears there are no more than a few dozen passengers) of people hostage. These techs could have been kidnapped seperately and brought together to be tortured for the codes. Bogosian's character (Travis Dane) attempts an explanation: as long as the train is moving, the signal to the satellite is "invisible," ok. But they could have just hired a yacht for the day and installed all this equipment on it, and skipped the potentially dangerous (and alarm-sounding) process of invading an army base, stealing military helicopters, and capturing a train. Just seems like an overly complicated way of acquiring a moving vehicle.
2. The entire operation is planned down to the last detail, but is almost completely derailed (no pun intended) because Travis Dane brings only one copy of the targeting CD with him. When Ryback momentarily steals the CD, Dane freaks out that he's helpless without it, and even says "this train might as well be a thousand tons of junk without that CD." The necessity of getting that CD back costs the lives of several bad guys, too. But still- at any time, that CD could have been scratched or chipped, and then your entire $1 billion plan goes down the drain....because you forgot to burn another copy?
3. The abilities of the satellite weapon increase dramatically throughout the film. In the first half-hour, Dane is asked to shoot down a passenger plane and he dismisses the idea as implausible before (rather effortlessly) doing it. Forty minutes later he's using that satellite to target and shoot down Stealth bombers. BTW, he shoots down one of those Stealths literally two seconds before it's about to destroy the train- so close that wreckage from the Stealth rains down on the train. The pilot had orders to destroy the train, but didn't shoot when he was on top of it. Is the range of missiles from Stealth bombers three feet, or what? And why didn't the "earthquake" created by the satellite which destroyed the bomber have any effect on the train which was right underneath it?
4. Dane tells his fellow bad guys that if he targets the Stealths he'll have to "unlock it from DC and "won't be able to get it back before it passes." That "problem" is forgotten the moment the Stealths are destroyed, never to be mentioned again. Was Dane lying? Is there an explanatory scene missing?
5. The train is in the American West. DC is on the East Coast. So the satellite weapon can destroy planes in the West, and moments later is ready to destroy DC- does it travel backwards? And why is the countdown clock never impacted by the constantly changing demands placed on the satellite?
6. Dane planned for the hijacked train to crash into another train carrying a huge amount of fuel, destroying both trains and all the evidence and witnesses....approximately five seconds after he escaped the train in a helicopter? Seriously, watch his attempted escape near the end- the destruction of Washington DC and the train was supposed to be simultaneous, I guess. But considering that the destruction of the laptop controlling the satellite revealed the location of the satellite to the authorities, a miscalculation of a single minute could have sent Dane's plan right down the tubes. Also, was Dane really going to be able to escape to the helicopter before the trains collided? I don't see it.
7. How fast do self-destruct signals travel, anyway? The good guys get control of the satellite literally five seconds before it's set to destroy DC. They push a button and the satellite, hundreds of miles above them in orbit, blows up. Really? They pull this instant-explosion stuff in You Only Live Twice, too, so it's not like Under Siege 2 invented this plot hole. But it's still a pretty big one.
8. Finally- Dane's plan is to destroy a secret nuclear power plant under the Pentagon and "create a fire from DC to the Carolinas" with the fallout from that plant. Presumably this will wreck havoc on the US economy...but he wants to get paid in American money? Not gold deposited in a foreign bank? Really? Why?
Ok, thanks for indulging me- lots of travel yesterday, pretty tired today, and back to school meetings start tomorrow, so I wasn't really in the mood to look for a commercial, and I kind of always wanted to rant about this movie for a little bit but wasn't going to start a separate blog for plot holes. Back to commercials next time.