This was a mistake.
(A full confession is perhaps in order here. I have never been among those who thought that The Wrath of Khan was a top-notch film. In fact, it's not even my favorite Star Trek movie. Still, I was predisposed to, at least, find it a diverting way to spend two hours hurtling across the North Atlantic.)
Put plainly, in a lot of ways, The Wrath of Khan just isn't all that good. It has good bits, but as a whole suffers from a multi-level Idiot Plot. I'm not talking about trivial inconsistencies--seriously, who cares? No, I'm talking major "Chuuuuuwhah?" moments here: places where the movie doesn't make sense even by its own internal premises. For example:
- Starfleet sends out one of its front-line, newly-upgraded vessels on a training cruise, with a crew consisting of almost 100% cadets. Let me know the next time the U.S. Navy sends out an aircraft carrier crewed exclusively by Annapolis plebes.
- The cruise is apparently supposed to take place at sub-light speeds, within Earth's solar system. Nonetheless, they are the only vessel in the area when they get a distress call from space station Regula I. Apparently this station, for security and safety reasons, is located in a remote and little-traveled sector very near Earth.
- The distress call is clearly being jammed, and it's obvious from the content that something funny is going on, and the hijacked U.S.S. Reliant goes out of its way to approach Our Heroes in an unnecessarily suspicious fashion. Nobody notices.
- Apparently the Federation relies on clay tablets for record-keeping. Hence, they can enter a solar system without registering that one of its planets has exploded, much less remembering that, oh yeah, this was that place where we dumped that ship-load of highly dangerous genetically-enhanced super-criminals a few years ago. (Also, apparently, they can't count; they land on the fifth planet from the sun, under the impression that it's the exploded sixth planet. It's a wonder they can even find it.)
- When you have beamed down to a planet, and you realize that you need to escape immediately, do not run outside to investigate the weather. Use the magic words "Two to beam up immediately." Remember that teleportation system that got you here? It works both ways!
- Oh, noes! The Plot Device is going to blow up, and we're all doomed! Kirk: "We'll beam aboard and stop it." David Marcus: "You can't." (Well, wonder boy, why not? Apparently just ... because.) Missing next line of dialog: "OK, then, let's just photon-torpedo it into its constituent atoms, then phaser the remains."