Hefty Inaccuracies in Die Hard: With a Vengeance

Note: This content has been revised based on updated information about the cargo capacity of the trucks used in the film.

“Damn, this is heavy.” – Samuel L. Jackson as Zeus Carver

die_hardHe said it well. Gold is a dense element. Its immense value per gram makes it the perfect stuff to jam into a vault. In a few rooms, you can store the revenue of a nation. Try doing that with pictures of Ben Franklin; you’ll find you need a warehouse.

Much to the joy of Hollywood, there really are vaults gleaming with bricks of the stuff. But, could you really rob one the way that it’s done in Die Hard 3?

No.

The value of the gold in the film is $140 billion. This is how much Simon claims to be stealing, though a few bars got left behind at the vault excavation. We can assume that Simon’s men were able to load almost all of the gold into their 14 dump trucks, because Simon says the dump truck John McClane hijacks contains $13 billion worth of gold.

Actually, dividing $140 billion over 14 trucks, an estimate of $10 billion per truck would be sensible. So either Simon knows that one has a little extra (it was the last one after all) or he’s just inflating the number to try and get McClane to take the bribe.

By weight, even $10 billion in gold couldn’t fit in one truck.

The dump truck McClane steals is either a Mack R685ST or an Autocar S64U (They use both in the action scenes). This sort of dump truck can generally carry between 20 and 30 tons of material. For our estimate, we’ll use 25 tons. The movie was released in 1995, and during that year, gold was valued at around $385 USD per troy ounce, or approximately $5,600 per pound.

That means that by weight, the truck in the film could hold about $280 million in 1995 gold. And $10 billion would require almost 36 dump trucks (like the one in the film) to transport.

The total $140 billion in 1995 gold would load about 500 trucks as used in the film… a far cry from the 14 shown in the movie.

scales.jpg

By volume?

Of course, maybe the director (John McTiernan, who also helmed the technically inept Hunt for Red October) was thinking of volume. You know, if somehow you were able to fill a dump truck to the brim with gold bars, and weight was not the limiting issue.

I can’t be certain of all the dump trucks used in the film, but for this example, let’s assume the truck can hold 12 cubic yards of material (That’s a fairly standard amount, when loading dirt and other loose material). Let’s also assume that all the gold bricks were perfectly stacked, with no empty space.

This gets you close. I calculate that if this entire space was filled with gold, it would weigh about 390,000 pounds. In 1995 dollars, that’s about $2.2 billion per truck, all the way to the top.

You could, but boy would it be heavy!

Calculated by volume, 64 trucks would get you to the $140 billion mark.

Of course, using volume measurements is downright crazy. You just can’t put 200 tons of gold into a truck designed to carry 20 or 30 tons.

Suspension (of disbelief)

It’s the movies, so it seems like we should hold out tongues and feign acceptance. $140 billion in 14 dump trucks? Sure why not. That’s what we told ourselves before we started doing the math. With a disparity this great, it’s interesting to see the numbers.

Possibly remedy

The film makers could have doubled the number of trucks, and gotten away with saying they contained $8 billion. Of course, that wouldn’t be enough money to wreck the national economy. Then again, with the way we throw money at the middle east, perhaps $140 billion wouldn’t cripple us either.

The alternative—filming 500 loaded dump trucks escape from Manhattan on a weekday afternoon—would raise even more eyebrows among the city’s millions of commuters.

Next time, I hope he turgs the sucker. Today, John McTiernan has recognized the mistakes concerning the weight of gold. Of course, being 35 times off the mark, is bad even by Bruckheimer standards.

For more on Hollywood’s magical power over weight and volume, read Cockeyed.com’s “How Much is Inside a Million Dollars.”

It’s not too late to start watching Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles

SaCoChroYou may have some misgivings about watching an under-viewed sci-fi series that airs on Friday night. Who wouldn’t? It’s like falling in love with a girl who has terminal cancer. And nobody wants to be Keanu Reeves in Sweet November.

Don’t cry. Critical Oversight is here to help you deal with your concerns and keep this show on the air. Just peruse this list of FMEs (Frequently Made Excuses) and get over your fear of falling for a show that isn’t long for this world.

Frequently Made Excuses for not watching
Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles

“The name is too long.”

Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles. Yeah, that’s actually quite a mouthful. If only there were some sort of abbreviation available. Here ya go: SaCoChro (sah – ko – kroh).

“I’m busy on Friday night.”

Nice try. But we see you here on our website and that means that you’ve got the Internet. Well guess what smart guy… the show is available online in HD via Hulu and Fox.

“I hated the third Terminator movie.”

Great, then you’re going to love SaCoChro. In the very first episode, they time travel right over the year where Terminator 3: Rise of the Machine takes place. So, John Connor never turns 20, he doesn’t meet Kate (played by Clair Danes), and he doesn’t hide in a bunker during Judgment Day. In fact, this show takes you to present day, and J-Day hasn’t even happened yet. Pretty reassuring, right?

“I’ve heard the show sucks.”

Well, you’re hearing from us that it rocks balls. How’s that for counterpoint?

“Compared to the movies, this show is kind of dull.”

Sure. Dull. We guess you could call multiple robots killing nearly a hundred humans in just two seasons “dull.” And I guess you’re not too excited when a robot travels back in time and supplants a human, becoming both a successful CEO and a passable mother. Oh, and that same robot combining present day artificial intelligence with future technology to both foster and reverse engineer Skynet at the same time? Yeah, that’s as dull as a metal knife arm on a T-1000.

“Summer Glau can’t act.”

Well, if you thought she could act in Firefly, then she probably hasn’t lost the ability. Did you ever consider that she’s playing a robot, and robots just act funny?

And, if you thought she could never act, just try to suspend your disbelief. Tell yourself these words. “Cameron is a lifeless robot. If I criticize Cameron’s acting, she may kill me to help protect her robot identity.”

“There’s not enough Summer Glau.”

Well moron, the only way to get the most Summer Glau is to watch the show. That or dust off your precious Firefly DVDs. Who am I kidding, with a gripe like that, your Firefly DVDs probably haven’t left your DVD player since they came out.

“Shirley Manson can’t act.”

No one said she could. She;s a rocker! But consider this, she too is playing a robot. When you watch the original Terminator film, do you watch Arnold’s ridiculous walk and monotone speech and think, “Bring this man an Oscar?”

“There’s not enough action.”

To be honest, SaCoChro isn’t about action. It’s about drama. And, if you look back at the three Terminator movies, you’ll find that the action was… well… here are some examples:

  1. Robot drives tanker truck full of jet fuel, explosion ensues
  2. Robot drives tanker truck full of liquid nitrogen, freezing ensues
  3. Robot drives crane truck, crash ensues

Based on that exciting array of action, you were hoping what, that SaCoChro simply expanded upon that? Did you want to see a robot drive a truck filled with nuclear waste? Maybe one of those trucks that pumps out portable toilets?

Well, no dice. This is commercial television. In SaCoChro, robots drive whatever vehicle Dodge payed to have them drive that week. So, do you want a Dodge Ram with a 5.7-liter Hemi® V-8 yet?

“You’ve worn me down a bit. But I’m not conviced.”

While the Terminator films push the edges of the envelope for action and special effects, SaCoChro defines the characters that are lost on the big screen. Throughout the episodes, you grow to learn about each character and their individual motivations.

It’s less “come with me if you want to live,” and more “come with me if you want to continue to struggle to get along, with the threat of an ever-changing Judgment Day in our future, as we strive to maintain John’s life at all costs, unsure of the true effect of our actions, and without knowing whether the things we do now will save the world or trigger Armageddon.”

Ready to watch? Check out the available episodes of SaCoChro at FOD (Fox on Demand)

Tron: Another Stupid DVD Menu

Maybe I’ll start a series of these. It seems that a lot of folks want to provide us with cryptic DVD menus in an attempt to theme the experience.

Here’s the main menu on the classic film Tron.

Tron DVD Menu

When you’re done laughing, read on.

Okay, so, “Run Program”, as you may have guessed, is the play button. And of course, “Sector Access” is obviously scene selection (almost makes you wish they’d done a parenthetical). But “Alternate Programs?” What on earth could that be?

My guesses were deleted scenes and alternate endings. I was wrong. Here’s what you get on the click:

Tron DVD Alternate Programs menu

So, bullshit previews for other Disney properties. As if an interest in Tron would indicate an interest in Return to Neverland.

Got a suggestion for a bullshit DVD menu? Send it in.

Night at the Museum: One Stupid DVD Menu

Night at the Museum is a fun movie. Great for kids and adults alike, it’s a joyous romp around one of New York’s most beloved landmarks. We liked this movie a lot, and so did the viewing public. This movie made a buttload of money. This raises a question:

What’s up with the stupid DVD menu?

They made an attempt to make the DVD menu seem like you were visiting the museum. We uh… well, let’s just look at it.

Night at the Museum

The problem here is that the titles they gave the buttons were a little too out there to make sense on their own. It would take a lot of imagination to know that “Choose an exhibit” meant “Scene selection,” so they had to actually put it below in parenthesis.

It gets a little weirder, for some reason, “Choose a language” needed an explanation. Why? We don’t know. And then the worst one is “Learn more.” Seriously? Why not “Special exhibits” or something? Dream big with your DVD menu metaphors!

Experience it for yourself…