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Broken Arrow (1996) Poster

(1996)

Goofs

Factual errors 

A hammer thrown by hand at someone's head does not carry enough momentum to throw him backwards with his entire body lifting well off the floor.
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Anachronisms 

Master Sergeant Kelly's nuclear weapon retrieval team wears the six-color Desert Battle Dress Uniform, in the "Chocolate Chip" pattern. At the time of the film's release, these had been replaced years ago by the three-color Desert Combat Uniform, the "Coffee Stain" pattern.
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Character error 

Hale remarks after the nuclear bomb detonates that they are safe because no radiation escaped. That is false. The detonation of the bomb in the mine produced a visible fireball, which means that the blast was not contained. The fireball/dust cloud is laced with plenty of fresh radioactive substances. They are safe as long as they are upwind from the mine, not because "no radiation escaped".
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During the opening fight, Deakins tells Hale he just hit him with a left, left, right. Except, he didn't. His punches were left, right, left, right.
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Continuity 

The first bomb countdown changes from 23 minutes to 26:33.
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In the B3's cockpit, the graphic showing the position of the weapons loader has the nukes one slot apart; in cuts to the cargo bay, they are physically positioned right next to each other on the rotating rack.
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Deakins' facial and shoulder wounds as he fights with Hale.
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On the train, Deakins starts the bomb counting down from 30:00, but when he clears it again there are more than 30 minutes left; the time appears to be 35:43.
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An EMP would have effected the electronic wristwatch Deakins glanced at just moments after the blast.
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When the park ranger is handcuffing Hale, her gun is drawn. When he kicks her over his head and pins her, he draws her already drawn gun from her holster.
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During the fight on the train, the shadows cast by the sun keep switching from one side of the train to the other.
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During the dialog after the early boxing match between Deak and Hale, the camera changes angles several times. Each time it changes, the $20 bill is folded differently.
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When Terry first confronts Hale she is supposed to be standing in his shadow facing the rising sun, but there is no outline of a shadow on her face or body and her hair seems to be backlit.
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Hale shoots at the pilot in the gunship and the bullet penetrates and breaks the lower glass window and kills the pilot. Later on the gunship's window is unbroken as it crashes.
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When the truck carrying Deakins tries to push the other truck off the road, the mudguard and headlight on the right side get damaged, yet are merely burnt in later scenes.
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The helicopter shoots at the truck from the side, yet bullet holes can be seen later that enter the front and leave the back.
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The state of deterioration of the antenna in the top of the train.
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Boxes on the train car are shown engulfed in flames and burning, then are undamaged as soon as the fire dies down.
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Hale shoots Deakins in the arm from the helicopter. During the helicopter explosion sequence and the boxing match, there is no bullet wound on his arm.
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Grenades are dropped into the elevator shaft about 3 seconds after the top of the slow-moving elevator has passed floor level, but when we look down the shaft they have 50 feet or more to fall, and when they actually reach the elevator it's already arriving at the bottom.
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The hills disappear once the train has passed through the tunnel.
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When Hale loads Terry's gun, he places four bullets into a six-shot cylinder. When he slams the cylinder closed, the second shell would be in the firing position. The first time he pulls the trigger, the third shell would be moved into position. Pulling the trigger to fire all four bullets would then end up being Live-Live-Blank-Blank-Live-Live. But, we hear Live-Live-Live-Live (and then an extra live shot like has been previously reported).
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When Hale and Terry trying to steal the boat and Terry falls on the floor, there is a pair of binoculars on the boat's gunwale. When Deakin's men load the nuke into the boat the binoculars are gone.
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The helicopter shown on the train is facing towards the engine when the cover is taken off, and later is shown facing the caboose of the train.
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When you see the character Giles' Lear jet from the outside, it is a model with the bigger picture windows. When you see it from an interior shot, the interior is from an older model with the smaller regular sized windows.
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When ejecting Deakins says "I'm punching out!" However the official Air Force transcript records the line as "I have to punch out!"
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When Terry gives Hale her remaining ammunition when fighting the helicopter, he inserts five rounds into the revolver and uses all of them to shoot the chopper. But later when fighting the trucks, and in the mine, Hale has more bullets.
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When the fake Park Ranger first appears at the campsite the sun is setting in the sky but when the camera pans to the camper and back to the fake Park Ranger it's completely dark out.
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During the truck chase after using the remainder of Terry's ammunition in the fight with the helicopter, Hale somehow re-loads his 5-chamber revolver. Then he fires SIX shots at the pursuing truck.
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When Hale loads Carmichael's gun when they are trapped on the bluff, he loads four bullets into the empty chambers. When he fires, he shoots five shots, clearly audible.
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The white antenna on the train gets shot multiple times but the visible damage progresses and recedes constantly. For instance, in some shots the left corner gets shot off and in the next shot, it's intact with some other parts of the antenna riddled with bullet holes.
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When Hale and Carmichael steal the boat, binoculars disappear then reappear on the boat.
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After loading the nuke onto the boat, Deakins and crew are in full sunlight then in shade then in full sun again.
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When Deakins punches out, he didn't have his helmet on, the next shot of his chair escaping the bomber has the helmet intact.
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Before the flight, Hale states that the airspeed will be .7 Mach which is approx. 540 mph. But during the flight, he states to Deakins that their airspeed is 800 mph.
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When the bomb goes off underground, the ground above it subsides into a crater, but no shock wave radiates from the site. However, we then see a shock wave breaking up the surface some distance away.
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Crew or equipment visible 

When Terry swings from the train compartment handle a harness cable is visible.
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Errors in geography 

Train was supposed to be going east, train appears to be heading west. Shadows on wrong side of train (unless Denver has moved to the southern hemisphere).
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In the course of a single day the characters somehow cross nearly the entire length of Utah despite numerous delays and being limited to using only backroads.
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Factual errors 

Military pilots aren't allowed to box due to the risk of head injury. Any loss of consciousness will DNIF (Duty Not Including Flying) a pilot and require a medical review. Especially the fact that Deakens and Hale are boxing without wearing protective headgear.
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The scene where the traitor pretends to be incapacitated by radiation from an "exposed core" of the weapons, and the ones listening seemingly believe that, is implausible. Weapon grade plutonium has fairly little radioactivity, and that is alpha-radiation which is easily stopped by plain clothes and the skin before it does any damage. Further more radiation poisoning does not kick in that fast. And last, suspending belief in these fact and assuming cracked weapons could kill, the teams would not go in without radiation meters to warn them off to prevent this exact scenario. So no one would be fooled by the fake radio transmission, especially if an investigation team is sent to find the bodies and discover that their causes of death are bullet wounds and not radiation poisoning.
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The Secretary of Defense on the phone tells Giles there's been a "Broken Arrow," then explains it's the code phrase used to describe a lost nuke. As Giles is on a cell phone (one unlikely to work on the jet, anyway), the SecDef's explanation over such easily monitored form of communication is a gross violation of standard security protocol. Later, Giles is again talking on his magic cell phone that works in jet aircraft, and discusses the leaking core, and even the entire theft and ransom plot.
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The engineer leaves the engine to fire a weapon. All modern engines have a dead-man's-switch which requires the engineer to be present at all times, or the engine begins braking.
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The UH-1H (Huey) helicopter that shoots at Hale and Terry is designed not to explode if it crashes. The tail rotors would not have sparked when bouncing off the rocks, they would have shattered.
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In the end credits, Vondie Curtis-Hall's character is credited as "Lt. Col. Sam Rhodes". However, his uniform and how he is addressed throughout show him to be a Chief Master Sergeant.
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When Kelly is sitting in the helicopter falsely reporting the nuke core is exposed, he identifies himself as Airman Kelly. He's wearing the rank of a U.S. Air Force Master Sergeant who would identify themselves as Sergeant or Master Sergeant.
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The cars on the train are wooden stock cars.
  • Stock cars were constructed of metal from the middle of the twentieth century on, and all the older cars were retired long before the setting of this movie.
  • The use of stock cars on trains ended during the 1970s.
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Grenades have a three second delay after the arming lever snaps free, not enough time for them bounce dramatically at the bottom of the elevator shaft.
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Almost all aircraft are designed to fly without electrical power (except some advanced fighters), the EMP would merely disable the helicopters avionics, but would have no effect on its engine or performance.
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Obvious physics problems with the momentum of the bomb that impales Deakins.
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The shock wave is much too slow, moving at only a few miles per hour.
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When Riley is ejected off the railroad trestle, he falls straight down. His body should have fallen at an angle, maintaining the momentum from the forward motion of the train.
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When Terry uncouples the train cars behind the flat car and the locomotive, this would pull the train's air brake line apart, causing the train to automatically "dump" all the air pressure, activating all the brakes as a safety feature, and both sections of the train would stop. (Because the Engineer is portrayed as a villain, he may have intentionally drained all the air to keep the train from stopping.)
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On the train Hale unfastens the helicopters metal fuel line with his fingers.
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Safety regulations for railroad boxcars on North American rail systems have required there be no roof walks for several decades. The boxcars portrayed have roof walks but they are nothing like any manufacturer's roof walk.
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During the flight, Hale states to Deakins that their airspeed is 800 mph. If the jet were traveling at 800 MPH, there would have been a sonic boom in the park.
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A nuclear explosion could not be passed off by the government as an earthquake. Non-government seismographs around the world would be able to tell the difference between a natural earthquake and a nuclear explosion.
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Miscellaneous 

The load weight of a B83 Thermonuclear bomb is 2408lb. Even with the outer "skin" removed, they'd be far too heavy for any character or an old-fashioned service elevator to carry.
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Incorrectly regarded as goofs 

Terry's wet clothes and hair get dry because it's a sunny day in the desert. You can see her hair looking progressively better from one scene to the next.
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The phrase "PINNACLE - BROKEN ARROW" is not actually used to refer to the theft, loss or seizure of nuclear weapons or components from the U.S.; that's known as a "PINNACLE - EMPTY QUIVER". A "PINNACLE - BROKEN ARROW" is the situation when a warhead has been accidentally detonated or jettisoned (not risking nuclear war). Although at the time the phrase was used in the film, it was assumed that the nuclear warheads were jettisoned and the crash was due to pilot error, and the weapons were not stolen.
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Plot holes 

Parachuting out of a disabled plane is not a crime, even if you do land in a national park.
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Deacon's plan seems rather pointless, since he revealed himself as the one who stole the nukes. How does he plan to spend that money if they already know it's him.
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Revealing mistakes 

At the start of the final fight scene, Hale cocks the shotgun two times with out ever firing.
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Carmichael tells Hale that the mine shaft is 2000 ft deep. There are various related errors, such as how long the elevator takes to get up and down, but the most egregious error is that from the bottom of the shaft, they catch an underground river which flows them "up" to the river outside.
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There are railroads into both Salt Lake City and Denver from various directions, but the map that Hale and Wilkins examine shows only the one that Deakins is planning to use.
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The bullet holes in the train antenna reveal that it's actually made of particle board, painted white.
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When Hale and Carmichael enter the underground river they are supposedly 2,000 feet below the surface. But the river is shown to be lit by direct sunlight.
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When the helicopter shoots the park ranger's truck, an implausible explosion erupts from under the front of the vehicle. The gas tank is at the rear of the truck.
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The stunt performer for 'Capt. Riley Hale' is rather obvious when Hale and 'Terry Carmichael' jump off the ledge together during the helicopter pursuit.
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When the nuke hits Deakins and blows him out of the train car, there is a very quick shot of a dummy switched out for the actor before impact.
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Spoilers 

The goof item below may give away important plot points.

Factual errors 

When the fake Park Ranger shoots the campers, the bullet holes get splattered by blood. Actually the other side of the tent would get splattered with blood.
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See also

Trivia | Crazy Credits | Quotes | Alternate Versions | Connections | Soundtracks

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