5 Films That Could've Been Ruined By Data

Posted 2019-09-25 Posted by Tom O'Connell

Data has many revolutionary applications that transform our daily lives and drive innovation, however, there may be some places where it’s not wanted. Many blockbuster films rely on the ignorance and naivety of its characters to keep a safe perimeter around the plot, and giving those characters access to data would surely eradicate the entertainment and run time.

Let’s see what would happen if we inserted some data applications into the movies and how they might affect (compromise) the plot.

We’ve identified 5 films where even some moderate use of data and AI would have drastic effects on the characters, plot, and profit.


Ridley Scott’s epic historical drama centered on once-powerful general turned reluctant gladiator achieved mainstream success, but it may never had happened if data had its way. Maximus builds his popularity amongst the Roman public through a series of heroic gladiatorial performances, which are deliberately designed to favour his antagonists.

However, Maximus leverages his popularity, forcing Commodus to conceal the explicit nature of his plan, but with data in play, it wouldn’t have happened.

Utilising Machine Learning, an AI may have picked up on the visible parts of Maximus’ face, have referenced this against thousands of images of the general, and easily identified him to the relevant authorities. Thus, he would have been dealt with long before he acquired acclaim. You could also knock an hour off the runtime, which wouldn’t be the worst thing ever.

The Terminator

Rather than pursuing Sarah Connor through an address found in a phone book, Arnie could’ve acquired all the data available on Connor from the last 30 years, allowing him to know or likely predict where she would attempt to flee to.

Catch Me If You Can

Frank Abagnale’s exploits would’ve been foiled in the first five minutes of this flick had any type of advanced data analytics been at play. Real-time monitoring of unusual banking transactions, analysis of forged cheques and other fake or doctored documents by Abagnale would’ve turned this movie into a PSA about the futility of crime. It probably wouldn’t have starred Leonardo Dicaprio, Tom Hanks, and Christopher Walkern either.


Marion checks in to the Bates Motel during a heavy rainstorm, however, this could’ve all been avoided had she made a data-driven decision. A simple recommender system that corroborates its decision making with guest reviews would’ve surely put Marion in a different location, and Hitchcock back to the drawing board.

Harold & Kumar Go To White Castle

This film’s plot is simple, but the execution is a myriad of complexities; Harold & Kumar are hungry, and attempt to travel to their favourite burger restaurant, only to find their local chain has closed down.

However, had they utilised the GPS system on most modern smartphones they would’ve been alerted to the fact their local White Castle had shut. They then could’ve headed to the nearest alternative, or even used the recommender system to find a suitable alternative. A notable mention goes to The Blair Witch Project which could also benefit from similar use of GPS. Maybe they would’ve got out of that random forest eh? Never mind. Roll credits.

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