"I mean, there we were, both of us, at the beginning of our careers. And all of a sudden one of us took off, lit up the sky like a meteor! And why? Because he met the other."Ricochet
— Earl Talbot Blake
is a 1991 thriller film directed by Russell Mulcahy.
Nick Styles (Denzel Washington
) is a cop who is studying to became a lawyer so that he can help his neighborhood better. Earl Talbot Blake (John Lithgow
) is a hitman who is taking a job to make it in the big leagues. Chance puts these against each other, and Styles walks away as a hero to the career he has sought and Blake is sent to prison with nothing. This leads to Blake becoming obsessed with Styles, and as he climbs the ladder of success, Blake follows every step plotting his revenge.
Years later, Styles has become the new District Attorney. Blake finally escapes from prison, and then starts a campaign to destroy his life.
Examples in this film:
- Adult Fear: Blake goes into Nick's house disguised as a power company technician, drugs the babysitter, takes Nick's sleepy daughters to bed, then shoots video of himself threatening the little girls. When Nick sees the video, he goes paranoid quick.
- And Your Little Dog Too: Blake tells a probation officer that, after being released, he'd pay a visit to fuck the man's wife, his daughter and maybe even his dog.
- Answers to the Name of God: "Almost."
- Artistic License - Medicine: After Styles is rescued after being drugged and kidnapped by Blake, at the hospital he is informed in the ER that he has "VD" based on his blood work. This is wrong on sooo many levels: First, the only STDs that show up on blood work are syphilis and HIV. Second, these are based on the body's antibody response, so it takes a while to turn positive, not overnight as in this scenario. Thirdly, doctors only run tests that are medically needed (or at least the ones they are sure they'll get paid for!)
- Big Bad: Blake
- Big "NO!": Blake lets out one when he thinks that Styles has killed himself, which would ruin his plans.
- Bond One-Liner: "You got the point now, don't you Blake?"
- But for Me, It Was Tuesday: At first, Styles doesn't remember who Blake is.
- Call Back: Blake and Styles arm-wrestling each other.
- Cassandra Truth: Blake is alive and he did all those things to discredit Nick.
- The Cast Showoff: Early on, Nick's partner, played by Kevin Pollak, does his James T. Kirk impression.
- Chekhov's Gun: The metal tower.
- Clear My Name
- Climbing Climax: Styles lures Blake onto the unfinished child center grounds for the climax, where they start climbing the thing while fighting.
- Crucified Dragon Shot: Kim
- Cruel Mercy: Blake's response to Styles' question "Why don't you just kill me?" is a laugh and "I don't wanna kill you; I wanna kill your life!"
- Driven to Suicide: Farris' murder is staged to look like he killed himself, complete with a handwritten suicide note.
- Styles pretends to kill himself in front of Blake, complete with a laundry list of things he was accused of doing, to lure him into a trap.
- Double Standard: Rape, Female on Male: Used as a plot point in-universe. Part of Blake's plan involves drugging Nick and videotaping him being forcibly raped by a female prostitute...but when he leaks the tape to the media (with dubbed-over sound), people take it as evidence of an extramarital affair. Even Nick's wife initially refuses to believe that it wasn't consensual.
- If the audience hadn't seen the original rape scene (and the completely innocent scene the dubbed dialogue came from), they wouldn't know it wasn't consensual. It isn't really a double standard since people watching the tape have no way of knowing it's rape.
- The Dragon: Kim to Blake.
- Embarrassing Nickname: In-universe. The DA is called "Priscilla the Hun." Nick himself is "PK" (Preacher's Kid). Subverted with Nick, who says it's a badge of honor.
- Evil Redhead: Blake
- Faking the Dead: After escaping from prison, Blake fakes his death. Nick stages his own death at the end to draw Blake out.
- Faux Affably Evil: Earl Talbot Blake.
- Filth: After killing Farris, Blake plants child pornography on his belongings.
- Frameup: Part of Blake's plan.
- Friendly Rival: Odessa, to Nick.
- Gaslighting: Blake used a form of this on Nick with the sex video and the swimming pool.
- Genre Savvy: Nick knows the police can't be trusted to protect his family, but Odessa and company can.
- Groin Attack: Blake kicks Chekowski's groin during the fight which happens when Blake becomes his cellmate.
- Gunman with Three Names: Blake is always referred by his full name in media.
- Hero Antagonist: Wiley (the DA's right-hand man), who doesn't seem to like Nick very much to begin with. And Gail Wallens.
- Hidden Weapons: Blake keeps a blade in his shoe.
- Hostage Situation: During Styles and Blake's first meeting.
- If It Bleeds, It Leads: Coverage of Blake's demise, with no censorship of his condition, or Kim's.
- Impaled with Extreme Prejudice: Blake falls from a tower and is impaled.
- Improvised Armor: The combatants in the prison swordfight are given armor made of books and duct tape.
- Intercontinuity Crossover: News anchor Gail Wallens.
- Intoxication Ensues: Nick becomes a jittery, rambling mess of a man after Blake and Kim inject him with drugs.
- It's Personal
- Large Ham: Both The Hero and the Big Bad.
- Malcolm Xerox: Nick is watching a talk show on TV when a man argues with the host about an evil conspiracy that supposedly befell Styles and was meant to bring him down. Nick just chuckles. Funnier yet, considering who Denzel Washington would play about a year later...
- Media Scrum: A gaggle of reporters is always ready to follow Styles around and hound him about alleged misconduct.
- Non-Indicative Name: Ricochets don't come into play at all.
- It's not immediately obvious, but the name probably refers to the fact that Styles' actions (taking down Blake) rebounded on him later.
- Not Helping Your Case: Nick rambles on and on to his wife about what he did or didn't do to keep the prostitute away; comes running out of the house like a madman upon seeing Blake's video and pulls a gun in front of a bunch of kids, assaulting a clown; goes on a stammering tirade after the DA confronted him about the sex tape and the assault on the clown (watch Priscilla's face as Nick talks about "water in the pool"). He's paranoid, stressed out, intoxicated and should be laying low during the DA's office investigation, but noooo...
- Obfuscating Insanity: Styles, as a ruse to bring Blake into the open and fight him.
- One-Word Title
- Quip to Black: "News at eleven? Nahhh!" (Switches video camera off). Subverted after the screen goes to black: "Styles, you can't do that, we're live!" "We're live now, huh? Good. Gail, kiss my ass!"
- The Only One Allowed to Defeat You: Blake to Nick.
- Pants Positive Safety: Styles' hidden gun in his underwear.
- Playing Gertrude: Victoria Dillard, who played Alice Styles, was just 21 during filming. Depending on how old her on-screen daughters were (in-universe), Alice should be well into her 20s after the Time Skip.
- Red Right Hand: Blake's milky eye, and perhaps his bright red hair.
- Room Full of Crazy: Blake's cell has a wall covered with Styles' pictures and clippings from newspapers and magazines.
- Sacrificial Lion: Larry, Nick's partner.
- Shoot the Dog: When he escaped, Blake killed the bookmobile guy, who was harmless.
- Stalker with a Crush: Blake
- Stealth Insult: When they fight at the end, Styles compares Blake to a pig slaughtered in sacrifice by Hawaiians as a gift to their gods.
- Strawman News Media: Gail Wallens. Consistent with media portrayals in that other picture she appeared in.
- Super Window Jump: Blake performs one, which leads to his initial meeting with Styles.
- Sword Fight: Members of the Aryan Brotherhood arrange a swordfight between Blake and Chekowski in prison.
- Those Wacky Nazis: The Aryan Brotherhood, whom Blake makes a deal with to escape prison.
- Unusually Uninteresting Sight: Gail was covering the explosion, oblivious to Blake, whom everybody thought was dead, standing next to her, ranting like a madman.
- Villainous Breakdown: Blake starts to have one when the crackhouse blows up. It continues when Kim calls him out at the end.
- Worthy Opponent / Pet the Dog: Blake shows some sympathy to Styles when he eavesdrops his live call to the talk show.