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Break Them By Talking / Film

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Examples of Break Them by Talking in movies.


Animated

  • Batman Beyond: Return of the Joker:
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  • In The Boss Baby, the Boss Baby does this with his adoptive older brother Tim, telling him that they'll spend every morning together, every Christmas and eventually grow old together. And since Tim is a Mr. Imagination, he can picture this all too well.
  • Cars 3: During the final race, Jackson Storm tries to talk trash to Cruz Ramirez to throw her off his trail and slow her down, while Lightning tries to warn her not to believe a word he says. As Cruz starts to feel that he got to her, Lightning tells her that it's a sign that she got to him, as Jackson wouldn't have willingly slowed down into second place just to taunt her had he not felt threatened by her.
  • Hans in Frozen tries this twice. The first one is given to a dying Anna, telling her that she was only ever a means to an end to him and what a fool she was for trusting him. It leaves her depressed for a while, but Anna eventually realizes that there are still people who care about her. His speech to Elsa, on the other hand, effectively leaves her suicidal, because being told that her sister was dead due to her own actions is her worst fear come true. Luckily, Anna wasn't dead, and saved Elsa from Hans' attempt to decapitate her.
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  • Kung Fu Panda 2: Lord Shen, when Po confronts him in the foundry and demands to know what he knows about his past. Shen cruelly lies to him, telling him that his parents abandoned him and didn't love him, which distracts Po long enough for Shen to get the upper hand and nearly kill him.
  • Moana: Tamatoa's Villain Song "Shiny" alternates between doing this to Maui and boasting about himself.
  • Pitch Black in Rise of the Guardians is a master of these. Given his ability to know what people are afraid of, it would be weirder if he couldn't pull one of these off. His speech to Jack, which is about how Jack will always be alone because he will always ruin any positive connection he makes by making a mess of things, pretty much kills Jack's will to fight him. It would've successfully taken him out of the picture if Pitch hadn't fallen victim to Bond Villain Stupidity.
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  • Teen Titans Go! To the Movies. Slade lays an epic one on Robin.
    Slade: Thank you, Robin! You were so desperate to be in a movie, you turned your back on everything that mattered to you — even your own friends! This shall be your final scene. (presses bomb switch) Magic!
  • Zootopia: Nick attempts this when he first meets Judy by playing on her fear that she'll fail to be accepted as a cop and have to return home in shame. While she is seriously hurt by it, her fundamental desire to help people ends up driving her to challenge him at wits again to get his help with a case, and then blackmailing him with his recorded boasts of tax dodging to force his cooperation.

Live-Action

  • In 42, Ben Chapman breaks Jackie Robinson's spirit by bombarding him with racist slurs and insults until he's a screaming, sobbing mess.
  • In Act of Valor, Senior Chief breaks Christo, the leader of the drug and weapons cartel smuggling the terrorists into the United States, by simply sitting down across from him, explaining how he's just lost everything: his wealth will be confiscated, he's going to prison for the rest of his life, his wife will marry someone else, his daughter will grow up without him, and they'll more or less forget about him.
    "Let me explain to you how the world works. This is no longer your boat."
  • Salieri's confession in Amadeus turns into one of these. By the end, with his closing lines about mediocrity, the priest is too shell-shocked to administer the sacrament (though Salieri was obviously unrepentant for his sins, so the conditions for the sacrament were clearly not fulfilled anyway).
  • Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery: Dr. Evil (while running away) tries to convince Austin that he's become a "square" and that the 90s doesn't have free love. Austin counters that the 60s were about freedom, only now it's joined by responsibility and that's even groovier. Evil destroys freedom, so he's still fighting the same fight. Then Dr. Evil points out that there's nothing more annoying an old hippie who refuses to get with the times. That gets Austin's back up.
  • In Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, Lex Luthor's speech to (along with the revelation he knows Clark's true identity and has kidnapped Martha Kent) force Superman to fight Batman.
    Lex Luthor: I figured it out way back. If God is all powerful, He cannot be all good. And if He's all good then He cannot be all powerful. And neither can you be. They need to see the fraud you are. With their eyes. The blood on your hands... If you kill me Martha dies. And if you fly away, Martha also dies. But if you kill the Bat, Martha lives. There we go. And now God bends to my will.
  • Harold delivers a devastating one to Michael in The Boys In the Band.
    You're a sad and pathetic man. You're a homosexual and you don't want to be, but there's nothing you can do to change it. Not all the prayers to your god, not all the analysis you can buy in all the years you've go left to live. You may one day be able to know a heterosexual life if you want it desperately enough. If you pursue it with the fervor with which you annihilate. But you'll always be homosexual as well. Always Michael. Always. Until the day you die.
  • Collateral is one long speech like this by assassin Vincent to his hostage Max which backfires towards the end.
  • The Dark Knight Trilogy:
    • The Dark Knight:
      • The Joker gives a nihilistic speech to the scarred, disillusioned and currently helpless Harvey Dent about how chaotic the world is, convincing Dent to do a Face–Heel Turn and become Two-Face.
      • Batman finally returns the favor at the end of the movie.
        Batman: What were you trying to prove? That deep down, everyone's as ugly as you? You're alone! [...] This city just showed you that it's full of people ready to believe in good.
    • The Dark Knight Rises: Bane engages in this as well, shortly before he breaks them physically.
  • Dogma, in one of its opening scenes, features Loki (Matt Damon) explains to a nun how he didn't believe in God due to the story of the Walrus and the Carpenter, successfully making her question and eventually throw away her faith...in a span of five minutes. As noted by his fellow angel Bartleby (Ben Affleck), "You know for a fact that there's a God. You've stood in his presence. You've spoken to him personally. Yet I just heard you claim to be an atheist." Loki's response? "I just like fucking with the clergy, man! I just — I love keeping those guys on their toes!"
    • There's also the board room scene, where Bartleby reveals all but one woman's sins. All their reactions range from looking down with shame to breaking down into tears.
  • Richard Nixon attempts to do this to his interviewer in Frost/Nixon with a late night phone call, but as his drunken ramblings progress, all his Not So Different lines only end up revealing how broken and full of self-loathing he is. Frost doesn't even need to say Shut Up, Hannibal! — he now knows that all he needs to do is corner Nixon and the man will destroy himself.
  • In the film adaptation of Get Smart, Maxwell does this to the giant, menacing Dalip, telling him the real family-related reason he's working for KAOS and that he's not evil at heart. This saves Maxwell and 99 from getting crushed, but Dalip still sprints off.
  • Lisa Rowe from the movie Girl, Interrupted delivers one to Daisy after the latter is released from the psych ward. It's so intense that it drives Daisy to suicide. Later in the movie, she tries to deliver a breaking speech to Susanna, but it backfires.
  • Dr. Hannibal Lecter in his various film incarnations.
    • The Silence of the Lambs: Trapped in his cell, Lecter can exert surprising influence on his subjects simply by talking to them. It's stated that he convinced the guy in the cell next to him to commit suicide and attempts to weasel into the head of Clarice during his interviews.
    • Hannibal: He managed to convince a drugged-up Mason Verger to cut off his face and feed it to dogs.
    • In Hannibal Rising, Grutas manages to do it to the young Lecter when at his mercy; it hardly improves his position, but it certainly has an impact on the other. He claims that Lecter isn't hunting him and a number of others down because they ate his sister to keep from starving but because they know that he ate some of it, too.
  • In Inglourious Basterds this is the main antagonist Hans Landa's specialty. He will talk at length, use phrases that leave it ambiguous whether he knows their guilty secrets or not, always keeping his opponents on their toes. The interrogation of Perrier Lapadite and Shosanna is a prime example.
  • Big Bad Franz Oberhauser/Ernst Stavro Blofeld gives a scathing monologue to James Bond in Spectre when he holds the Bond Girl Madeleine Swann hostage. This is because Blofeld is responsible for all the misery 007 suffered since Casino Royale (2006). It nearly leaves Bond depressed, but he gets better by saving Swann in the nick of time and having Blofeld arrested for his crimes against humanity. An orphaned Bond receiving more endearment from Franz's own father than Franz when they were younger is what ultimately led to the Cain and Abel relationship between the two in later years.
    Bond: [after shooting at a bulletproof glass which forms the SPECTRE logo] You're a hard man to kill, Blofeld. [mockingly looks at Oberhauser/Blofeld's scar] Ouch. I do hope that doesn't hurt too much.
    Oberhauser: [shrugs] My wounds will heal. What about yours? Look around you, James — look. This is what's left of your world. Everything you ever stood for, everything you believed in — a ruin.
    Bond: Why are we here? Did you miss me?
    Oberhauser: No. [blows into the glass, creating water droplets. He then makes a heart sign out of the air, indicating that he's taken Madeline hostage] But I know someone who does.
    Bond: Where is she?
    Oberhauser: That's for you to find out. [Activates a timer] In three minutes, this building will be demolished. Well, I can get out easily. Now, you have a choice. Die trying to save her, or save yourself and live with the pain.
    Bond: You're bluffing.
    Oberhauser: Am I? [snickers smugly] I've really put you through it, haven't I? Oh well, that's brothers for you — they always know which button to press!
  • Dewey gives one to Bourne in Jason Bourne in an attempt to stall for time, and it works, as Bourne listens long enough for agents to save Dewey.
    Dewey: You took a long time to get here, Jason.
    Jason: I know about Beirut. I know what you did. It all ends tonight.
    Dewey: It'll be a lot easier if you do it right away. You didn't come here for revenge. You came because it's time to come in. Your father created the program. Didn't have what it takes to make it work. And you did. You always did. That's why you volunteered.
    Jason: I volunteered because I thought our enemies killed him. I volunteered because of a lie!
    Dewey: No. You volunteered because of who you are. You volunteered because you are Jason Bourne. And not David Webb.
    [Jason then grabs Dewey and slams him against a window]
    Dewey: 32 kills, Jason. Everyone of them made a difference. People all across this country are safer because of what you did.
    [Beat]
    Jason: I'm trying to find another way.
    Dewey: And how's that working out for you? You're never going to find any peace. Not till you admit to yourself who you really are. It's sudden death here, Jason. It's time to come in.
  • In Lord of War, Hero Antagonist Jack Valentine spends the better part of two decades chasing illegal Arms Dealer Yuri Orlov for Orlov's gunrunning. Regardless of the tricks Yuri has pulled, or how he's twisted the law to suit his advantage, or done insane stunts when seemingly cornered, Valentine has been dedicated to busting Yuri by the book. So he's never planted evidence on Yuri, he's refused to make Yuri "disappear" as one of his colleagues suggested, (because even if no one else knew, Valentine would), etc. When he finally has Yuri arrested with the appropriate evidence for a conviction, Yuri calmly explains that none of that means anything because some of Yuri's arms trafficking is done on behalf of the US Government, which is going to make the charges go away in order to maintain Plausible Deniability. Along the way, Yuri shreds Valentine's idealism and faith, and when everything happens the way Yuri predicted, you can practically see the life going out of Valentine's eyes. (Below is a partial quote, full quote on quotes page or see the scene in question here.)
    "The reason I'll be released is the same reason you think I'll be convicted. I do rub shoulders with some of the most vile, sadistic men calling themselves leaders today. But some of these men are the enemies of your enemies. And while the biggest arms dealer in the world is your boss - the President of the United States, who ships more merchandise in a day than I do in a year... sometimes it's embarrassing to have his fingerprints on the guns. Sometimes he needs a freelancer like me to supply forces he can't be seen supplying. So, you call me evil, but unfortunately for you, I'm a necessary evil."
  • Marvel Cinematic Universe:
    • Loki, Big Bad of The Avengers, uses this against the heroes constantly, in keeping with his comic and mythological characterizations. The heroes seem to be aware of this, as he's muzzled when they capture him at the end. Amusingly, this ends up biting him in the ass halfway through the movie, when Black Widow exploits this to make him say too much.
    • In Thor: Ragnarok, Loki's brother Thor gives him a taste of his own medicine after realizing that just constantly forgiving Loki for everything will lead nowhere. So Thor gives him a heartfelt speech about how much Loki used to mean to him, but how he's made peace with the fact that their "paths diverged a long time ago", and claiming that them never seeing each other again is what Loki always wanted. All the while fully aware that he's hitting Loki hard. Not a minute later, when Loki attempts to sell him out on the Grandmaster, Thor incapacitates Loki and proceeds with a Kirk Summation that Loki cannot escape or interrupt. Eventually, this works and motivates Loki to finally perform a Heel–Face Turn.
  • Agent Smith in The Matrix films.
    • His speech to Morpheus in the first movie is the most memorable:
      Smith: I'd like to share a revelation I've had during my time here. It came to me when I tried to classify your species. I realized that you're not actually mammals. Every mammal on this planet instinctively develops a natural equilibrium with their surrounding environment, but you humans do not. You move to an area and you multiply and multiply until every natural resource is consumed. The only way you can survive is to spread to another area. There is another organism on this planet that follows the same pattern. Do you know what it is? A virus. Human beings are a disease, a cancer of this planet. You are a plague. And we... are the cure.
    • He delivers another one in the third movie as he watches Neo struggling to get back up after a royal thrashing - except Neo is barely listening to him and it just shows how Smith's mental state is crumbling.
      Smith: Why, Mr. Anderson? Why, why? Why do it? Why, why get up? Why keep fighting? Do you believe you're fighting for something, for more than your survival? Can you tell me what it is? Do you even know? Is it freedom, or truth, perhaps peace, could it be for love? Illusions, Mr. Anderson, vagaries of perception! Temporary constructs of a feeble human intellect trying desperately to justify an existence without meaning or purpose! And all of it as artificial as the Matrix itself! Although, only a human mind could invent something as insipid as love! You must see it, Mr. Anderson, you must know it by now; you can't win, it's pointless to keep fighting! Why, Mr. Anderson, why? Why do you persist?!
    • Neo responds with a Shut Up, Hannibal!.
      Neo: Because I choose to.
  • In Mulholland Falls, the General likes to give those speeches to the main character, also pulling a Not So Different.
  • Ocean's Twelve, where Isabel Lahiri, a Europol agent, has taken an informant named Matsui into custody in order to find out more information about the protagonists' upcoming heist. Matsui calmly endures the "bad cop" type interrogation (also unheard) by another Europol agent with an indifferent smirk. Then walks in Isabel, while the previous interrogator telling his partner that nothing will break this guy. Cue Lahiri telling Matsui a few words in the interrogation room, and the informant visibly collapses and grabs the pen to write a confession.
  • In The Princess Bride, Wesley manages to completely break Prince Humperdinck's will with an incredibly detailed threat to leave him horribly crippled, to the point that Prince Humperdinck drops his sword and surrenders. It was a complete bluff.
  • In Serenity (the Firefly film), the Operative likes to do this to people he is about to kill, crossing it with "The Reason You Suck" Speech by explaining to people what their 'sin' is. This goes poorly when he tries it on Mal Reynolds.
    Operative: Do you know what your sin is, Malcolm Reynolds?
    Mal: Aw, hell. I'm a fan of all seven. (headbutt) But right now, I'm gonna have to go with wrath.
    • It actually ends up reversed when Mal plays him the recording of the mission log they found on Miranda. A few lines of exposition shatter the Operative's entire worldview.
  • Star Trek: Generations. Dr. Soran, an El-Aurian, shows what happens when one of the "race of listeners" use their extremely profound insight to harm rather than help.
    Soran: They say time is the fire in which we burn. Right now, Captain, my time is running out. We leave so many things unfinished in our lives... I know you understand.note 
  • In Star Trek Into Darkness, Harrison gives multiple speeches deconstructing Kirk and Spock's motivations and character flaws. Several of these are similar to Khan's monologues from "Space Seed" and The Wrath of Khan in tone, though avoid any direct references.
  • Star Wars:
    • The Empire Strikes Back: Darth Vader tells Luke Skywalker that he is Luke's father, but you already knew that, which is enough to cause a Heroic BSoD, but his subsequent attempt to persuade him to join him fails.
    • In Return of the Jedi, Emperor Palpatine focuses his full powers of charm and scheming to break and turn Luke. Luke is in the throne room along with Palpatine and Vader while the Rebel Alliance and all his friends are about to be destroyed - all, it turns out, according to Palpatine's plans. Palpatine's expositing this eventually drives Luke into attacking the unarmed emperor (as intended), only to be stopped by Vader, and soon Vader's threat to go after his sister finally drives Luke into an Unstoppable Rage that almost pushes him to the Dark Side. However, he has a moment of clarity just before killing Vader, and rejects the Obviously Evil Palpatine's offer to become his new apprentice.


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