Warning: You could be framed for something you didn't do at any given moment. Maybe even by your own government, whether intentionally or due to a misunderstanding. Will you know what to do if this happens? If not, Hollywood might be able to help, as "wrong man" scenarios have been around about as long as movies have existed, and a lot of them have involved conspiracies within government agencies.

In "G.I. Joe: Retaliation," an enemy of the Joes', Zartan, has secretly taken over the White House disguised as the President of the United States. As POTUS, he labels the Joes traitors and unleashes a military strike that wipes out almost the entire team. The survivors must then go up against COBRA while being at the top of America's Most Wanted list.

Fortunately, Joes are trained for survival, and in this case knowing is even more than half the battle. So, in the very unlikely event that it happens to you, use the following movie-inspired tips to prepare for, avoid, or survive being framed by the government.

Have friends on the inside A lot of secret agents are antisocial, which is often a plus when it comes to the isolating nature of the job. But it doesn't help when you're framed with no one to turn to. It's good to have at least one connection or a single person of significance who will always trust you no matter what. In "Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol," Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise) and the rest of the IMF is blamed for an attack on the Kremlin. He's picked up by the organization head, who says he's always considered Ethan a friend and explains the situation, recommending that he escape, go rogue, and complete his mission.

It's even better to have friends on the outside It's much easier to trust friends who aren't in the government, but close friends are the first place the bad guys will look. So have someone who is just close enough that it isn't obvious. In "Shooter," framed sniper Bob Lee Swagger (Mark Wahlberg) heads to the home of a late buddy's widow (Kate Mara), and she treats his wounds. In "Enemy of the State," framed lawyer Robert Clayton Dean (Will Smith) sees an old girlfriend (Lisa Bonet), and she sends him to an ex-NSA agent in hiding (Gene Hackman) for help. Former operatives, especially if they're anti-government, are typically the best, like the disavowed agents (Ving Rhames and Jean Reno) recruited in the first "Mission: Impossible" movie.

Kidnap people and make them your allies Don't have any friends? Make some! How? Kidnapping is the easiest method, but it's best to pluck random young women who are definitely not involved in the conspiracy and are susceptible to Stockholm syndrome. It works for Bourne in "The Bourne Identity" with Marie (Franka Potente) and long before that for Joe Turner (Robert Redford) in "Three Days of the Condor" with Kathy (Faye Dunaway). It's risky, of course, because you turn them into a wanted person, too, and they'll also probably eventually be killed (spoiler alert!). So make sure not to like them too much, or it's going to hurt.

Don't stay friends with your exes (if you're married) At this point, it may seem important to have as many trustworthy friends as you can find. But ex-girlfriends are not an option if you're a married man, because the trust of your wife is the most important of all when you're in a situation like Dean's in "Enemy of the State." Unfortunately, the bad guys set it up so that it looks like he's having a criminal and romantic relationship with an ex lover whom he'd been seeing only professionally. Fortunately, Will Smith is smooth enough to convince his wife (Regina King) of his innocence. Unfortunately for the ex, the government baddies killed her to further frame Dean.

Don't have an affair with the First Lady Being friendly with exes is can get sketchy, and having an affair (past or present) could put you in the awkward position of being framed and/or blackmailed. But the worst thing you can do romantically (if you're a guy) is have an affair with the President's wife. This is the predicament of Secret Service agent Pete Garrison (Michael Douglas) in "The Sentinel." His need to be discreet leads to him being set up as the mastermind behind an assassination attempt. He also develops a reputation as a wife-stealer, which initially keeps him from having that a friend on the inside to help him out in a pinch.

Learn to be an amazing detective If you work for the government (or feel you might be framed by the government one day), start taking some criminology or private detective courses. Or, maybe it's enough to simply read detective novels and watch procedural movies, miniseries, and TV shows. The point is you need to be a great investigator, one better than the police and/or FBI who are looking to find you guilty. When you're framed, you're going to be forced to find the truth yourself. It certainly helps if you're already in the crime-fighting profession, like John Anderton (Tom Cruise) in "Minority Report." He easily adapts to the hardboiled P.I. role, acting more like a detective than a man on the run.

Make sure you're not bugged This should be a given, but that doesn't mean it's not worth mentioning. In "Enemy of the State," we get to follow along with the NSA whiz kids as Smith works with Hackman to remove the never-ending list of tracking and recording devices they've hidden on his person. Eventually, this leads to Smith stripping to his underwear in public. Funny, right? Well, imagine that's you. More extreme instances of de-bugging include the eye replacement in "Minority Report" and the nose extraction in "Total Recall." Good times.

Always carry a recording device. Always. There's a good chance you'll end up in the presence of the person who framed you, and that person will likely confess due to an overwhelming urge to show you how smart they were to hatch such an elaborate scheme. So keep a recorder handy! It's a very cliche conclusion to a frame-up plot, yet it shows up in the best of them. In "The Bourne Supremacy," even Jason Bourne tapes a confession from Ward Abbot (Brian Cox). Also, broadcasting a confession can work, too, as in "Enemy of the State," "The Negotiator," and so many others.

Answer any and all mysterious phone calls Answer any calls from unknown numbers appearing on your cell phone or pick up random phones that ring in your vicinity because it's probably someone who is looking to help or offer instructions. In "The Matrix," Morpheus (Laurence Fishburne) sends Neo (Keanu Reeves) a cell phone and then uses it to guide him to safety. In "Eagle Eye," a mysterious woman calls Jerry Shaw (Shia LaBeouf) to warn him of an FBI raid and then helps him escape custody.

Agree to a special mission The same government that framed you might give you the chance to fight for your freedom with a "very dangerous mission." In "Lockout," that mission is to save the President's daughter from escaped convicts-turned-hijackers who've taken control of a prison located in space. The upside for framed CIA agent Snow (Guy Pearce) is that the evidence he needs to prove his innocence might also be found at the space prison. What a coincidence!

Don't be afraid to kill when necessary Some framed protagonists are able to get through their ordeal without being a tough guy and maybe even without having to shoot anyone in self-defense. But it's more likely that you'll need to be strong, talented in all kinds of combat, and lethal without hesitation. You can be like Bourne and not even think about whom you're taking out so long as it's for your own survival. In "A-Team," B.A. Baracus (Quinton "Rampage" Jackson) makes a vow of nonviolence because he regrets having ended so many lives. At the end, though, he has to break that promise in order to save the lives that matter most and exonerate the team.

categories Movies