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Top 10 Most Ludicrous Fake Movie Military Organizations

by Warren Cantrell on March 26, 2013

in Top 10s

Oh, good heavens: it’s happened.  Yes, as if the dearth of Transformers offerings opened up some kind of hole in the idiot’s movie market, the world has been saddled with yet another G.I. Joe movie.  Already a year behind schedule because of a 3D conversion and script overhaul, the fact that Paramount is dropping this in March only furthers the case for its sour prospects.  Critics were unanimously disdainful of the first installment back in 2009, and fans … well, who are we kidding?  There really aren’t any fans of this franchise, at least amongst those who are old enough to drive themselves to the theaters to see the sequel.  No, even “fans” of the first movie weren’t all that jacked about the flick, and quickly forgot about it after the next Call of Duty release.  To be fair, though, it’s tough to pull off the fake military organization trick in films, for most are so laughably inept and/or unrealistic that it’s hard to keep an audience fully invested for 90-plus minutes.  Still, even when displaying high levels of incompetence, a good movie can get away with a fictional outfit so long as the outlandish madness doesn’t outweigh the entertainment factor.

Today’s list is a celebration of the most ludicrous, impractical, destructive, ineffective military organizations in movie history.  While some of the films featured were pretty decent, and others were decidedly not, they all had one thing in common: they featured an armed collective so laughably inept that they stood out amongst even the most impractical government organizations.  No bands of fighters, or simple squads of merc. soldiers made it into the ranking, however, for this list was looking for fully-functional military organizations with an established management hierarchy and physical infrastructure housing a permanent base of operations.  It was for this reason that The Swayze and his Wolverines from Red Dawn didn’t get a spot below, for they were little more than a band of rebel guerrillas.  The same went for Stallone and his Expendables, ridiculous as they were.  The kids from The Monster Squad were also denied a spot in the discussion because of this technicality, along with everyone in The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen.

Per the list’s title, the military organization had to be entirely fictitious, and unassociated with any kind of actual government body.  Hence, even if one considered a particular representation of M.I.6 or The Delta Force as “ludicrous,” it would be eliminated from any discussion based on today’s criteria (it’s also why you won’t see any Inglourious Basterds on here).  There were a few close calls, like with the Space Nazis of Iron Sky, for while they were unquestionably absurd, they were an offshoot of an actual military organization, and had to be excluded.  Also, although they were a collection of bumbling amateurs with far more firepower than any human being should be allowed to wield in a densely populated metropolis like New York City, The Ghostbusters were more of a civilian paramilitary organization, and didn’t seem like an appropriate fit for today’s discussion.  Some other close calls that nearly stole a spot in the ranking included The Joes, who got a pass because of their movie opening this Friday and mention in this intro, along with The Omega Sector from True Lies, and The Allied Nations from Street Fighter, The Movie.  Phew!  Anyway, shall we?

10. Flaming Dragon from Tropic Thunder (2008)

A fairly big player within the South Asian heroin scene, Flaming Dragon seemed entirely unprepared for the lunacy of Hollywood.  This was somewhat understandable, for few are; yet a well-armed, fortified, crusty group of drug smugglers should have flayed the American intruders within their borders within a matter of hours: the skins acting as both trophies and warnings to other method actors.  Yet the Americans, led by Tugg Speedman (Ben Stiller) and Kirk Lazarus (Robert Downey, Jr.) put a crippling hurt on these evil bastards.  Although Flaming Dragon got the edge early on when they captured Tugg, their diminutive, pre-teen leader obviously hadn’t seen enough bad American T.V.  The American faux-military squad conned their way into Flaming Dragon’s camp, got back out with Tugg, and flew home to safety and what appeared to be an ass-load of Oscars.  One shouldn’t fault Flaming Dragon all that much, however, for they were a smaller-scale operation unprepared for this kind of thing, and understandably so!  After all, who can count on a last-minute TiVo save from a previously out-of-country agent?  Relatively speaking, anyway, Flaming Dragon was a fairly tight military operation, at least compared to…

9. CURE from Remo Williams: The Adventure Begins (1985)

This was a tough one, for the U.S. government agency known as “CURE” from Remo Williams: the Adventure Begins, did have a few salty operatives, yet were about as intimidating as a middle school marching band.  For starters, their recruiting methods involved kidnapping, facial reconstruction, and forced indentured servitude.  To be fair, the agency sported incognito headquarters tucked away inside of a bank, and a simple four-man structure that included martial arts master, Chiun (Joel Grey), and CURE’S head, Emperor Smith (Wilford Brimley at his grizzled best), yet a Swiss Watch it was not.  Sure, CURE’s agents could dodge bullets and walk on water, yet it was hardly something that could have been accomplished on a highly repeatable basis (Chiun would likely kill most trainees).  Even worse, the villains Remo and CURE squared off against were so arrogant, incompetent, and cocksure that their schemes could have been unraveled by the Hardy Boys.  This soured Remo’s ultimate, bullet-dodging victory a bit, yet not so much that it elevated CURE beyond the opening salvo of this list, where only halfway ludicrous government agencies resided.  To get into the truly absurd, we’d have to start by spending a little time talking about…

8. CONTROL from Get Smart (2008)

While the evil crime syndicate KAOS was hardly a collection of atom-splitting mathletes, the secret American intelligence agency on its trail took bureaucratic incompetence to a whole new level.  Something like a cross between the N.S.A. and the C.I.A., in Get Smart America’s super-secret government agency tasked with hunting down all the wicked lunatics of the world was CONTROL.  Yet these guys couldn’t find their way out of a bathtub on a dark day!  Take their star recruit, the hulking Agent 23 (Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson), who was not only revealed to be a double-agent, but also the lynchpin component in a plot to kill the President of the United States via a nuclear bomb!  Luckily for the free world, Max Smart (Steve Carell) and Agent 99 (the delicious as-always Anna Hathaway) were on the case, and had enough pluck and resilience in them to foil CONTROL’s plans, yet only after demonstrating how woefully inept this country’s last line of defense was!  After all, their best agents were crooked spies, and their worst ones were all that stood between this country’s salvation and utter annihilation.  Still, CONTROL did get the job done at the end of the day, and weren’t half as destructive as…

7. M.I.B. from Men in Black (1997)

Although it should at least be noted that the Men in Black did have a fantastically well-equipped, wonderfully hidden, and extremely well-staffed base, let’s be honest: these guys were always one step behind things.  In the first installment, every friggin’ alien in New York seemed to know that the planet was going to be destroyed before the agency chartered to handle just such a threat had so much as a whiff of something rotten.  Shit, in M.I.B. 2, these well-clad, exquisitely armed bad-asses couldn’t even keep their base secure!  That’s right, they suffered a break-in at their headquarters, which had nothing on the wrath the aliens reigned down upon humanity in #3, going so far as to travel back in time to screw with the Apollo 11 launch.  Luckily for all the humans involved, and the fabric of space-time, the M.I.B. operatives neutralized all of the extra-terrestrial plots, and made sure that every day folk were none the wiser via some high-tech mind scrambling hardware.  Behind in pretty much all things, and seemingly unable to recruit better than one good rookie every thirty years, the Men in Black were still the good guys…

6. The Umbrella Corporation from Resident Evil, et al

History will provide the world with fewer cases of tactical and professional incompetence to rival that witnessed throughout the Resident Evil franchise, for when the Umbrella Corporation wasn’t cooking up some new-fangled horror to unleash upon the world, they were scrambling to affect some murderous cover-up to blot the scandalous business out.  Take the first installment, for example, when Umbrella sent a commando squad into their “Hive” to deal with a zombie outbreak, only to see that entire crew slaughtered, and a couple more civies unalterably twisted as a consequence.  In the first sequel, the audience learned that Umbrella had not only covered up the mini-zombie apocalypse from the first flick, but had been experimenting on unwilling human subjects to exploit the scientific windfall this discovery promised.

This led to all sorts of mayhem, murder, and madness, which culminated in Umbrella nuking an entire city into radioactive oblivion.  What a bunch of dicks!  Not only did these guys invent the means to usher in a zombie apocalypse, they reacted to the situation by making matters somehow worse instead of better.  Umbrella’s inability to kill just one woman (albeit genetically modified) demonstrated their incompetence far beyond anything this brief write-up could adequately illustrate, yet put it just behind the those hallowed few occupying this list’s top five slots, where the truly destructive incompetence of a few government organizations elevated the following to a truly special status…

5. The Bureau of Paranormal Research and Defense from Hellboy (2004)

Formed in the aftermath of a God-awful Nazi experiment gone wrong, the Bureau of Paranormal Research and Defense from Hellboy was designed to combat threats even more freakishly terrible.  The bureau came together around the product of the Nazi’s fiddling with inter-dimensional portals, which gave the Allies a hulking demon beast known as Hellboy (Ron Perlman).  These same Allies found the creature as an infant right after the Hitler-loving bastards zapped Hellboy to Earth, and for sixty-odd years, the creature served as the backbone of this country’s paranormal defense.  The surly guardian kept himself active in the indiscreet B.P.R.D.’s headquarters for a time, content with his kitties, yet wasn’t really put to the test until Rasputin and the Nazi pricks came back to Earth and started summoning up a shit-storm, one our boy had to tackle horn-first.

While credit should be given to Hellboy for his efforts to keep the monstrous blood monster Sammael in check, the cigar-chomping bad-ass didn’t exactly keep things tidy.  Although the subway took a pretty hefty beating via some hand-to-hand collateral damage, the devastation Hellboy wrought next to the outdoor carnival, during the nighttime chase, really outdid everything else.  Formidable, Nazi-ghoul foes these may have been, but one would think a classy organization like the B.P.R.D. would train its operatives to use a little more discretion.  In Abe Sapien (David Hyde Pierce), they at least had something cunning enough to shut itself into a death stasis when things got tough, but with Hellboy, they got a friendlier version of the Hulk!  Still, most of the surrounding urban infrastructure remained intact after the B.P.R.D. got the job done, and that’s saying something, for they did accomplish their goals.  This next organization certainly couldn’t claim this…

4. M.N.U. from District 9 (2009)

These puds.  Not only was MNU (Multinational United) a violent, mean-spirited, seeping asshole of a company, they were an incompetent bunch of pricks on top of it all.  Responsible for the security of the South African alien colony known as “District 9,” the private military company didn’t waste its charms on the creatures under their care.  No, MNU treated the South African alien refugees like rabid cattle, and took this up yet another notch when assigned the monumental task of moving them from District 9 to a new hovel a few miles outside of Johannesburg.  Despite having an organized game-plan for this eviction, MNU and their bureaucratic underboss, Wikus van de Merwe (Sharlto Copley), still found a way to fuck everything up terribly, and demonstrated MNU’s inarguable right to be listed amongst the worst government operators within today’s discussion.

Wikus got infected with some strange alien juice, started to trans-species mutate, then waged an unholy and terrible war against his former employer that one might expect from a person with an Archangel in their corner.  This Wikus guy not only managed to break into MNU’s headquarters and blow it all to hell, he got back out again and into District 9 in time to activate his buddy Chris’ spaceship.  Even MNU’s Special Forces squad and their sadistic leader, Col. Venter (David James), couldn’t get in the way of this small, half-assed assault that represented nothing less than a full-scale military breach of security.  So, MNU not only failed in their duties as alien-handlers (something they’d had decades of practice with), they also fell short in the most basic responsibilities of an armed, multi-million dollar military organization: they let the bad guy get into their base, fuck shit up, and get back out again.  Fail.

3. S.H.I.E.L.D. from The Avengers (2012)

As bad MNU did in District 9, at least they kept the collateral damage from their screw ups mostly limited to the realm of their enemy’s territory.  Sure, Wikus blew the hell out of MNU’s headquarters in downtown Johannesburg, which did a little damage to the city, yet this was nothing compared to the veritable annihilation of New York City whilst under attack by Loki’s hordes in The Avengers.  Sure, Tony Stark (Robert Downey, Jr.) and company probably saved all of humanity, and every other city in the world during their no-holds barred defense of The Big Apple, yet the cost appeared staggering.  N.Y.C. is a dense little town, which means every random, ill-fired plasma blast that missed one of the film’s heroes likely landed in somebody’s bedroom or office.  This likely killed everyone within a ten foot radius, which isn’t even counting the deaths incurred from the falling impact of those big damned worm monsters.

No, as commendable as the work of The Avengers was, it’s no wonder S.H.I.E.L.D. made the decision to just go ahead and nuke the friggin’ town.  Sure, although the Chitauri might get defeated and sent back to space hell, this still left S.H.I.E.L.D. holding the bag on all those lawsuit claims.  The logic was probably something along the lines of “it’d be easier to kill all these poor fuckers and pay government reparations than deal with two million goddamned personal injury lawyers!”  Thus, what we’ve got here is a government agency that had an admittedly awesome base inside of a flying aircraft carrier, yet didn’t have enough tact to take care of their shit without incurring six-figure casualties and the loss of a major American city.  What’s worse, when things got tight S.H.I.E.L.D. damn-near nuked a city to cover its tracks!  What dicks!  It is for this reason that they got into the top-3, for this combined level of brutish incompetency and mayhem knows practically no equal.

2. SPECTRE from The James Bond Franchise

While it’s true that SPECTRE never caused or was a party to the level of destruction seen in The Avengers, at least S.H.I.E.L.D. and their loose cannon crew got the job done from time to time, and could be relied upon in a pinch.  SPECTRE, on the other hand, was so criminally incompetent that the villains on Scooby-Doo think Bond had it easy.  Seriously, these guys wrote the book on criminal ineptitude, for when they weren’t explaining the details of their carefully devised plots to their super-spy captive, they were bungling easy assassinations and world domination schemes a nine year old could execute.  Led by the enigmatic crazy-cat-man, Ernst Starvo Blofeld, and housed in a number of different sweet-ass bases over the course of several early installments (the volcano lair from You Only Live Twice was easily the best), SPECTRE was the real deal.

Acting as a sort of Cold War middle-man, instigating conflict between the superpowers so that they might swoop in and dominate the radioactive ashes, SPECTRE was that worst kind of prick: that jerk who shows up to a party just to start a fight.  Luckily for MI6, the C.I.A., and James Bond, SPECTRE didn’t have the skills to steal candy from an unborn, blind baby.  For starters, their operatives were a bunch of glass-jawed cowards that went down after the first Judo chop, which wouldn’t be so surprising if their superiors weren’t a bunch of loose-lipped bunglers who, to a man, didn’t seem to have the stomach for the murderous business in which they were involved.  Seriously, if Blofeld or Largo had ever taken five extra seconds to personally murder James Bond, some of their global terrorism bullshit might have actually got off the ground!  This never came to pass, however, and legions of SPECTRE mercenaries were consequently wasted on schemes that never came to fruition.

1. Tie: The Rebel Alliance and The Empire from Star Wars, et al

Sweet merciful Christ.  It’s hard to even know where to start between these two!  On one side of it, you’ve got The Empire, a hard-assed military dictatorship that’s got the full weight of the Imperial Senate behind it, not to mention the last two Sith Lords in existence in their corner.  Clearly without the time or patience to dedicate any real time towards soldier training, The Empire blindly went to war against the only Rebel faction that stood in its way, for they figured (hoped?) that their soldiers’ 25% blaster accuracy rate was enough to win the day.  And while their admittedly awesome Death Star base no doubt inspired confidence, the fact that they left the hulking planet-killer out in the open, with its one fatal design flaw dangling in the wind like an unsecured Johnson, didn’t help their cause.  Yet as bad as all this was…build a world-destroying super-station once, shame on you.  Somehow get away with building it a second time?  Shame on the lazy assholes unable to capitalize on their own success!

These Rebels had it all sewn up!  The Death Star was destroyed, Vader was off somewhere in space, spinning into oblivion, and rather than chase the stampeding swine into the river, the Rebellion stopped to have a party, and give out medals.  Had Leia, Luke, and the rest of the Rebel Alliance been hard on the heels of their vanquished foes after Episode IV, they might very well have taken back their galaxy.  Instead, they had to gut it out on Hoth, where only the ineptitude of the Empire allowed the space guerrillas life enough to fight another day.  Between these two warring factions, it’s hard to pick a winner, for the argument over which military organization was more hopelessly incompetent could (and likely will) go on for generations.  Neither side fielded an army worth much of a damn, and both the Empire and the Alliance got negative marks for tactical imbecility.  It was for this reason that they tied for the number one slot, for when it comes to ludicrous fake military organizations in film, it is hard to beat a dominating power that can’t help but to be defeated by an upstart gang led by smugglers and untrained farm boys.  Failing to capitalize on the gains made over such an inept foe almost point to a more culpable candidate, however, which is why the Alliance shares in today’s dubious honor.

“Obvious Child” is the debut novel of Warren Cantrell, a film and music critic based out of Seattle, Washington. Mr. Cantrell has covered the Sundance and Seattle International Film Festivals, and provides regular dispatches for Scene-Stealers and The Playlist. Warren holds a B.A. and M.A. in History, and his hobbies include bourbon drinking, novel writing, and full-contact kickboxing.


{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Alan Rapp March 26, 2013 at 4:52 pm

How does the sheer awesome that is Megaforce, designed exactly for a list like this, not make the cut?


2 Coffeeshop Monster April 8, 2013 at 10:19 pm

These days, even children’ s cartoons and programs carry a serious adult message. It may have been this way since Bullwinkle and Natasha. Military movies based on ” adventure” has a threshold of what isreality and what is obviously parody for the sae of thrill. Get Smart as aseries on tv, then film mafe for movies is doing it the only way possible. NSA (No Such Agency) barely ecists outside of an inter- related functioning industrial news media. And in fact, if nobody recognizes NSA function, they don’ t exist to impact national security.
Ask former NSA contractors. My online character found on Dear Monster since 2009, and on email since 2007, wrote to NSA ” Monsters” who could transport all levels of technology! Truly.

Now, Monster took over Dear Abby’s advice column after her recent death. Dear Monster writes advice to those confused about things. His pilot Letters were spam attacked on his Dear Monster Letters found on World Nomads anti-news-wire project just a few months ago. Monster’s Twitter blog tried to exude urgency as Get Smart tried to exemplify evil. From aka Fern in person.


3 Sammy May 31, 2013 at 9:07 am

How about SMERSH or THRUSH?


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