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Merciless Logicians …

… & The Sliding Scale of Plausibility.

Okay, a question for all the scribes:

Must a thriller be totally plausible in order to be entertaining?

Many film critics and TS reviewers behave like merciless logicians

by pointing out each and every plot hole and logic flaw and thereby rejecting entire stories because of said plot holes no matter how small they might be, as if that’s the only thing that matters in a movie.

Well, it all depends upon the size of the holes, doesn’t it?

Most film students know that almost every thriller under the sun has plot holes and flaws in logic in them but they are still accepted and beloved by many because of so many other elements of quality craftsmanship.

Well, it all depends upon the size of the holes, doesn’t it

I think there’s a sliding scale involved. If a movie takes itself seriously and yet you can’t buy into its incredibly flawed plot, then yeah, it officially sucks. Unless, of course, it is a movie that doesn’t really take itself too seriously and is INTENDED to be wildly impossible but entertainingly so, like, say, a James Bond movie, then okay, no problem.

If a serious thriller can hold water for the most part (or not leak too quickly), I won’t condemn a movie over a few minor leaks…

…I also think you guys offered a huge volume of characters because you’re not yet disciplined in the difficult task of exploring (and exploiting and giving arcs to) just a few characters with depth. I would’ve preferred fewer twists and stronger scenes and more attention to a smaller number of characters who have more depth.

I won’t condemn a movie over a few minor leaks…

I’ll praise a movie even if the story parts do not fit the whole so long as the scenes play strongly on their own and the parts work together even if the whole leaves me a little uncertain. A lot of movies are certain about their story as a whole but are made of careless parts, which is what I feel like we have here.

Forced to choose, I would take the strong parts over the whole…

– Mystery Man

I’m famous yet anonymous, failed yet accomplished, brilliant yet semi-brilliant. I’m a homebody who jetsets around the world. I’m brash and daring yet chilled with a twist.

I also write for Script Magazine.


About the Author

Mystery Man

Comments 6

  1. Unproduced scripts (and especially spec ones) are subject to a level of criticism that finished films seldom are. This is because, with a finished film, we just show it to an audience and see if it works. With an unproduced script, people are still chewing over whether or not it might work as a film.

    My favourite plot hole relates to the central premise of Danny Boyle’s first feature SHALLOW GRAVE. After the death of the guy with the money, the three friends have to choose between reporting the death and keeping the money. However, it’s a false choice, as it would have been quite possible for them to report the death AND say nothing about the money. The important thing, though, is that even if you do spot this flaw, it doesn’t detract from your enjoyment of the story.

    1. Just a short sentence spoken by one of them would have sorted this out. EG “He’s died of a drugs overdose and we suspect that anyone with all this money might have some dodgy friends…”

  2. While I agree on a philosophical level, I fear many writers use this logic as an excuse to ignore constructive criticism of their script.

    Typical writer’s excuse:
    “no, you don’t understand; he had an epiphany; it DOES make sense..you just don’t get it…”

  3. Whenever I think about this question, my mind always goes back to the cropduster attack in North By Northwest.

    As that scene unfolds it is pure suspense and insanely silly (why not just hide in the corn and shoot him??) but the audience buys it because of everything they’ve accepted up until that point and are not allowed a moment to think about its ludicrous nature during the attack. Afterwards, we are then focused on what he will do regarding Eve.

    But… if the film had opened with a crop duster scene however, I’d be responding quite differently. It could be innapropriately comedic and I might not buy it.

    So really you can have plot holes and inplausible scenes – as long as you are aware of what the audience will accept, reject and ignore – so you can sell it.

  4. I think a movie has to be realistic with its context…

    Flightplan. I remember the evil guy’s plan hinged on an event that he was “lucky” even occurred—the daughter leaving her sleeping mother. It didn’t work for me, and I’ve only seen it once, but that’s what I remember.

    Much worse is The Game with Michael Douglas. The world it set up just didn’t wash with what was happening.

    There was a funny comment on IMDB too – “It’s a movie. It’s meant to suspend belief.” I think he meant “disbelief”.

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