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Engineered Public Confessions in Live-Action Films.


  • 16 Blocks uses the tape recorder variety, in which the protagonist plays back the words of a corrupt cop. Also, in the alternate ending, the tape recorder is found and played by the DA after the protagonist is shot.
  • In Antitrust, Milo is able to set up an elaborate satellite feed of Gary's company killing programmers and intending to create a monopoly.
  • Batman Returns had Batman pull one of these on a Villain with Good Publicity, the Penguin, whose taunts to him during the wild ride he inflicted on him after hijacking the Batmobile (including such gems as "I played this stinking city like a harp from hell!") were broadcast over the loudspeakers during Penguin's speech. Penguin's good reputation goes bye-bye, and the eggs and tomatoes are broken out. The Penguin immediately starts shooting into the crowd.
    • In Batman & Robin, Batman shows Mr, Freeze that he didn't kill his wife by playing-back a video of Poison Ivy mouthing off about "As I told Lady Freeze when I pulled her plug, this is a one-woman show!!", thus pushing Mr. Freeze out of his Despair Event Horizon. Hilarity Ensues (unfortunately off-screen) when Mr. Freeze later becomes Poison Ivy's cellmate at Arkham Asylum, as he (presumably) beats the living hell out of her.
  • Towards the end of Big Fat Liar movie producer Marty Wolf confesses out loud that he stole Jason Shepard's story and made it into a movie, and tells Jason nobody will ever know the truth about the plagiarism. Unfortunately for him, director Dustin "Dusty" Wong and his crew have filmed the whole thing on multiple cameras and are showing it to the news media, Universal president Marcus Duncan, and Jason's parents, finally vindicating Jason and destroying Wolf's career for good.
  • Jason Bourne pulled one on Ward Abbott in The Bourne Supremacy instead of killing him, which led to his suicide.
  • Breaking the Girls: Sara and Nina manipulate Alex into confessing her crimes while the police are listening.
  • In Buffaloed, Zoey Deutch's debt collector manages to get all her competitors together in a bar to watch the Bills game and talk business. And also because a hidden camera would record their confessions (and given it's a gathering, along with extortion and such, everyone can be charged with racketeering!) to compound with the evidence the police raided from their offices as they were gone.
  • In The Cobbler, while Elaine Greenawalt believes she is in private with Mr. Solomon, she threatens to kill him and his daughter if he doesn't let go of his apartment. What she doesn't realize is that a newsman captured the conversation on tape from behind the door.
  • In The Count of Monte Cristo (2002), Dantes meets Villefort in a bath house and turns up the steam, obscuring much of the room. He then gets Villefort to confess to his crimes, at which point the steam clears away revealing the authorities who have been standing there the whole time.
  • In The Dark Knight Rises, Bane reads out Gordon's speech where he reveals the conspiracy to protect Harvey Dent's good name. (Inverted, as here it's the villain enforcing the hero's confession than the other way round.)
  • In the Norm Macdonald film Dirty Work, Norm's character uses his Note to Self tape recorder to nab a confession out of the bad guy at the end.
  • Brilliant subversion (or perhaps Double Subversion) in the Eddie Murphy political comedy The Distinguished Gentleman. Murphy's conman-turned-congressman is secretly trying to prove that a more senior congressman is taking kickbacks from a lobbyist in return for blocking an investigation into the relationship between power lines and cancer. He claims in a committee hearing to have videotaped a meeting between himself, the senior member, and the lobbyist. When they grab him and pull him into the meeting and demand to watch the tape, they discover it's a bluff- it was just an ad for the phone sex business he used to own. Secure that they've dodged the bullet, they launch into discussing their Evil Plan-as he surreptitiously tapes the whole thing and then plays it for the media as soon as they go back into the hearing.
  • Happens at the end of the French film District 13. The villain, however, only does it when threatened with a Karmic Death.
  • Conventionally executed at the end of the Neill Marshall film Doomsday. The villain Canaris believes he's gotten away with everything and explains his plan to heroine Eden Sinclair, and then returns to the control center and discovers that Sinclair recorded his confession and is having it broadcast to the world. We even see her setting her wrist device as she approaches the conversation with him.
  • In Enemy of the State (1998), after the protagonists (Will Smith, Gene Hackman) have lost the original video record of a congressman's assassination ordered and overseen by the Corrupt Politician named Thomas Reynolds, senior advisor to the National Security Agency, they decide to bluff and try to trick him into incriminating himself during a meeting. Unfortunately, their plan of catching it on tape via a hidden mic fails, and they are captured by his goons. However, thinking he has won Reynolds then launches into a villain speech, confessing to the murder. Unbeknownst to Reynolds, one of his own NSA technical people gets cold feet and records the whole speech in their surveillance van, which is later used by the FBI as proof for the conspiracy to murder the congressman. Not that Reynolds cares anymore, because he's already dead at that point.
  • In A Face in the Crowd, Pompous Political Pundit Lonesome Rhodes has an official agenda for his adoring public but a more sinister agenda in private. When he starts to rave about this during a private conversation, Marcia switches on the microphone so that his ravings are broadcasted and he is abandoned in droves immediately. He becomes completely unhinged afterward, even more so when he finds out that Marcia had tricked him.
  • Humorously played in The Flintstones in Viva Rock Vegas. Jerkass Chip Rockefeller engineers a plan to get Fred, his main rival for Wilma's affections, out of the way so he can marry her and steal her money instead. First, he makes Fred win huge sums at his casino after giving him a line of credit; then he rigs the games so Fred loses and ends up in massive debt to him. He then plants Wilma's pearl necklace (a gift from her beloved father) in Fred's pocket and announces that a crime has taken place in the casino. Chip makes a speech to the assembled guests and offers the "crook" a chance to step forward and confess...but he doesn't specify what the crime is. Cue a woman screaming "I STOLE ALL THE TOWELS FROM MY ROOM!", a man admitting he's wearing someone else's underwear, and another man announcing that he's been poisoning the water supply of every dinosaur, which will wipe out the species (his confession, and the crowd refusing to believe it, becomes a Running Gag). When Chip finally does reveal that the pearls were stolen, Fred stands up and demands that the crook come forward, giving Chip the opportunity to "discover" them, tell the whole crowd about Fred's huge debt, and have him arrested.
  • Forrest Gump: Inverted. During Forrest's stump speech during an anti-Vietnam rally that he was pulled into, a large percentage of the speech involving things he was going to admit to the people about his experiences in Vietnam during the speech actually ended up missed because a pro-Vietnam military man pulled the plug on the mike, and the mike's sound output was only restored right when Forrest finishes up the statements. According to Tom Hanks, the actual censored portion of the speech was "Sometimes when people go to Vietnam, they go home to their mommas without any legs. Sometimes they donít go home at all. Thatís a bad thing. That's all I have to say about that." Arguably, seeing Abbie Hoffman (who was standing next to him and heard the whole thing) moved to tears by Gump's speech was effective enough.
  • Subverted in Four Brothers; the adopted brothers, in their quest to avenge their murdered adopted mother, have to take down a dirty cop. The brother assigned to take down the cop goes to the cop's house and gets him to confess and pretends to be wired. Meanwhile, the girlfriends go to the police station and say that they're afraid that he's going to kill a cop. Cop cars show up at the dirty cop's house, he starts sweating and takes the brother hostage. The cops end up shooting him.
  • Happens in the finale of Gamer, right before he gets knifed in the gut.
  • The Green Hornet: Britt Reid meets D.A. Frank Scanlon in a restaurant and Scanlon gloats about his crimes, then Britt reveals he recorded it. However, Britt later finds out he forgot to turn the recorder on.
  • In the 2007 film of Hairspray, after Amber loses the Miss Teenage Hairspray Competition, Velma then admits to Amber that she rigged the votes. Edna then informs Velma that her confession was broadcasted on camera, which causes Velma to lose her job.
  • Hollywood Homicide: K. C. Calden gets Wasley to confess to murder, then reveals that he has recorded it.
  • In Home Alone 2: Lost in New York, Kevin recorded the "Sticky Bandits"' confessions with his toy tape recorder.
  • One of the greatest examples of the Alpha Bitch, Courtney Shayne from Jawbreaker, spent the entire movie covering up her responsibility for a prank that got her friend killed. While holding a recordable greeting card, she says, "I killed the teen dream. Deal with it.", forgetting she had a finger on the recording button. One of her former pals, Julie Freeman, discovers the card as she prepares to turn in for the night. Off she goes with her boyfriend, Zack, to deliver the goods. In the end, Courtney's recorded confession was spliced into the microphone as she gave her prom queen acceptance speech. And the Humiliation Conga begins.
  • Parodied in Johnny English, where the protagonist accidentally switches the vital confession recording with candid footage of himself lipsynching to Abba in front of the bathroom mirror. In his underwear.
  • Kimi: Samantha, the woman who's stream Angela overhears, attempted to record a full confession from Brad that he raped her. It doesn't work, but she does inadvertently record her own murder, which he ordered. It ultimately takes him down.
  • In Kingsman: The Secret Service, Arthur believes this could be in play after Valentine kills Harry. Unfortunately, Arthur won't let it get that far, having been persuaded to join Valentine's cause.
  • In the 1970 Rod Taylor comedy The Man Who Had Power Over Women, Peter Reaney (Taylor) is a talent agent whose clients include a successful rock band whose amoral lead singer, Barry Black, has managed to impregnate a groupie named Mary Gray. A back-alley abortion is arranged, but Mary later dies from post-surgical complications. In the film's final scene, Peter, who had to attend the inquest into Mary's death, confronts Barry as the singer exits his house to welcome a crowd of screaming, adoring fans before he goes on tour. Just as the crowd noise dies down, Barry bellows, "I can't feel sorry for every scrubber I pick up! And there are plenty more where she came from!" An enraged Peter punches Barry in the jaw, and the crowd of fans, still reeling with shock at seeing what a scumbag their idol really is, follow him as he leaves across the grounds of Barry's house.
  • Major Grom: Plague Doctor. Grom is framed for being the Plague Doctor, but escapes with the help of Eager Rookie Dubin and Intrepid Reporter Yulia and captures him. The Plague Doctor just laughs however, pointing out Grom doesn't have Hero Insurance—he's broken out of prison and apparently committed several terrorist acts, and he can just claim that Grom forced him to wear the Plague Doctor costume, so all of them are going to jail. Grom is contemplating whether to just murder him, when Yulia reveals she earlier planted a bug on Grom without his knowledge, recording the Motive Rant where the Plague Doctor denounced his vigilante followers as riff-raff he was setting up to be killed.
  • In Max Keeble's Big Move, moments after Max broadcasts his confrontation towards his enemies via Principal Jindraike's morning announcement camera when he learns he isn't moving after all, Jindraike returns to his office, turns off the system and rants about he doesn't care about the school because he's using 97% of the money to build a big football stadium and about 1% for the school (2% is on breath spray). Max secretly reactivates Jindraike's camera and the entire school is shown just how much of a slimeball their principal is. Needless to say, after Max stops him from demolishing the animal shelter, where he planned to build the stadium, Jindraike gets fired and faces criminal charges for embezzlement.
  • The Well-Intentioned Extremist and Villain with Good Publicity Big Bad in Minority Report fell victim to this.
  • In Mission: Impossible II, Vlad infects John McCloy with the Chimera virus, and will only give him the antidote if he confesses to leaking it. However, it's all a trick, and Vlad was really Ethan in disguise with a tape recorder hidden under his coat.
  • Another more comedic version occurs in Mister Roberts, where, via the ship's intercom, the petty-tyrant naval captain is goaded into revealing the secret deal he struck with his subordinate Roberts.
  • Pulled off by Samuel L. Jackson and Kevin Spacey in The Negotiator. Another Kevin Spacey film Horrible Bosses has this as a Double Subversion.
  • Now You See Me 2: What The Horsemen do to Mabry and Tressler at the climax of the film. Broadcast on to a giant screen on Tower Bridge and streamed live round the world to boot.
  • In The October Man, Mr. Peachy does one of these saying he is the murderer. No one is around to hear it, but it gives the hero enough incentive to prove it to the cops.
  • Played pretty much straight in PCU, except that the unintentional broadcast didn't reveal past wrongdoing so much as current bigotry.
  • The 1986 comedy Playing For Keeps has Danny's attempts to create a resort in a small town thrawted by the townspeople who are eager to have millionaire CEO Cromwell invest in what he promises will be a much fancier resort. The climax has Cromwell showing up at the house where Danny brings up how his "river project" is actually a toxic waste dump that will poison the entire town within a decade while Cromwell pockets millions in kickbacks. Cromwell just scoffs and asks what Danny's price for keeping quiet on this is. Danny's response is to pull a curtain to show the mayor, sheriff and town council all glaring at Cromwell, who tries to flee but is easily caught and arrested.
  • Please Murder Me!: Craig lures Myra to his office and gets her to admit her entire scheme by threatening to tell Carl about it. When he picks up the phone to call Carl, she shoots him dead. she stages the scene to look like a suicide as is about to leave when district attorney Ray Willis walks in. while examining the scene, Willis discovers a running tape recorder in Craig's desk drawer, and Myra realises her confession and Craig's murder have been Caught on Tape.
  • In Project: ALF, the Made-for-TV Movie that serves to wrap-up ALF, the Big Bad is an Air Force Colonel, who has a personal score to settle with the titular alien, as he believes that aliens have performed experiments on his mother. Early in the movie, he has his Number Two requisition a deadly substance to be used to quietly kill ALF. Two other officers find out about this and spirit ALF away, becoming fugitives. Eventually, they are cornered by the Colonel, and one of them tries to confront him with the requisition form. The Colonel points out that the request has his Number Two's name on it, not his, and then lights the piece of paper on fire, just in case. Unknown to both men, their conversation is recorded by a security camera, which happens to make its way into the hands of the Number Two. Upon finding out that his superior has planned to frame him from the get-go, he shows the recording to a general, and the Colonel is too stunned to be able to offer an explanation.
  • Colin Farrell's character in The Recruit uses his "Spartacus" program to transmit the gloating revelation Al Pacino's corrupt CIA agent to his superiors. Al Pacino emerges to find dozens of agents surrounding the building. However, in a subversion, it turns out that Farrell was just bluffing, as the program wasn't able to get a signal. The agents still thought that he was the mole, and had arrived to capture him, not Pacino. However, Pacino believing they were here for him, delivers a rousing You Can't Handle the Truth speech and as a result is Hoist by His Own Petard. As the dozens of laser sights move from Farrell to him, he is given a moment to realize his error before committing Suicide by Cop.
  • In Rehearsal for Murder, Alex's so-called play (which Walter points out is no more than a group of unrelated scenes) is designed to get the killer to confess, with a police officer waiting to hear the confession.
  • Played straight in RoboCop (1987), when Corrupt Corporate Executive Dick Jones boasts of his many crimes in front of the eponymous hero. Of course, being part robot, Robocop visually records Jones' confession and plays it back for his bosses. Oops. What makes this even worse is the fact that Jones lambasted his own henchman for doing the exact same thing earlier, incriminating Jones and thus setting Robocop on his trail.
  • In Robot Jox, prior to the climactic battle, one of the Market's top engineers, Dr. Matsumoto, turned up dead. While watching final instructions for their mech pre-recorded by Matsumoto, it cuts to showing Tex revealing himself as a mole for the Confederation before shooting him. Tex then jumps off some nearby scaffolding and kills himself.
  • Safety Patrol had the main characters expose that Scout Bozell was framed and that it was the entire Safety Patrol and the lunch lady who were the true instigators of the fire by arranging for Weird Al Yankovic to sing the revelation with the tape being played throughout his concert. As soon as this was exposed, pretty much the entire Safety Patrol was fired, and Scout was reinstated with a new safety patrol team, and the Lunchlady was arrested partially for this reason.
  • The Saint (1997): used in reverse. Simon Templar convinces the Russian president to confess to a fraudulent cold fusion project. After the president confesses in response to Ivan Tretiakís accusations, the cold fusion machine works and destroyís Tretiakís credibility.
  • The Shamers Daughter: Shamers can make people admit to the things they are ashamed of. The heroes arrange a public encounter between the villain and a shamer... but he isn't ashamed of what he has done, so he keeps his mouth shut.
  • Sharpay's Fabulous Adventure: Sharpay finds out that her boss and the star of the theater, Amber Lee Adams, is actually using her so she can get rid of her dog Boi and be the sole performer in the show. In order to show everyone the real Amber Lee, Sharpay (with the help of her competitor, Roger) releases the dogs to distract Amber Lee before her performance and also turns on her microphone so that the whole audience would hear her compulsive ranting. Cue to the audience booing Amber Lee after the curtains open and her quitting.
  • In A Simple Favor, Emily redirected the police Stephanie had called to another location, shoots Sean and recalls all her crimes as she considers doing the same to Stephanie. And then Stephanie reveals that one of her shirt buttons is a nanny cam, and that she had been livestreaming their entire violent confrontation.
  • In A Simple Plan, Jacob is forced to kill a man to protect the secret of the money he, his brother Hank, and his friend Lou found. When Lou starts to come between Hank and Jacob over the money, Hank secretly records Lou pretending to confess to the murder in order to maintain a hold on Lou, threatening to take it to the sheriff if Lou steps out of line.
  • In Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country, during Kirk's trial, an excerpt of his log entry saying "I have never trusted Klingons, and I never will. I've never been able to forgive them for the death of my boy." is shown as apparent proof of his motive behind Chancellor Gorkon's assassination. This fact is used later to implicate Lt. Valeris as a conspirator trying to sabotage Federation/Klingon peace talks, since Kirk has no idea how long Valeris was standing in his open quarters doorway when he made that recording before he noticed them.
  • Tian Di: This is how the main villain, Paul Tai, who moonlights as a philanthropist and charity provider but is actually a drug-dealing baron, ends up getting exposed at the end of the film, in a theater full of people. Unfortunately, Paul then decides to order his armed gangsters to kill EVERYBODY (at least 300 people) in said theater.
  • In the "Weird Al" Yankovic film UHF, evil Channel 8 head R.J. Fletcher goes on a secretly-filmed tirade about how little the community means to him and how stupid he thinks its inhabitants are. Then when Fletcher prepares to deliver an "important message" to the television-viewing public, the message is intercepted by Philo, the Chief Engineer at U62, who broadcasts the secretly-filmed message in its place. Immediately afterwards, the camera cuts to the flabbergasted Fletcher, who simply looks wide-eyed at the screen and ducks out of sight.
  • At the end of Vipers, the Corrupt Corporate Executive's self-incriminating and callous parting words to the herpetologist he'd left to die, along with other witnesses to his role in the titular snakes' escape, start playing over the loudspeakers as he's giving a presentation to potential investors. His demands that the playback be stopped are stymied when the scientist herself arrives with the police. Subverted in a sense, as the film is a formulaic direct-to-video horror flick, so can't resist the obligatory Hoist by His Own Petard ending for the villain: he's bitten by one of the lethal vipers in the last scene, rendering any legal or career damage from the confession moot.
  • In Wall Street Gordon Gekko is furious at Bud Fox for sabotaging a business deal. He goes into a rant and then punches him in the face. All caught on an audio recording; even after he realizes Fox went behind his back he still isn't watching his step.
  • Used in Yogi Bear when the corrupt Mayor Brown's attempt to dispose of an endangered turtle whose existence would stop his attempts to close Jellystone Park. Turns out Boo Boo's bowtie camera (which previously in the film had been put on him for a nature documentary about him and Yogi) recorded Brown stating both this and how he doesn't care about Jellystone at all. The heroes then play it during his election promo, revealing what a slime ball he is to the entire city. To make matters worse, said turtle gets on stage at that very moment, confirming the confession. He and his Chief of Staff are arrested on the spot.

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