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Film / Cohen and Tate

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They were hired killers going up against the deadliest force of all...Each other.

Cohen and Tate is a suspenseful high tension 1989 neo-noir thriller starring Roy Scheider and Adam Baldwin about a boy that's been kidnapped by two mismatched hitmen.

The boy tries to put them at each other's throats while being driven to their employers, possibly to be killed. Cohen, an older no-nonsense, straight-laced, professional becomes increasingly irritated with his partner Tate, a young, brutish, hot-tempered, psychopathic killer. When their prisoner uses unnatural guile and resourcefulness to play them off against each other the movie becomes filled with edgy, suffocating tension. Written and directed by Eric Red, who also brought us Near Dark and The Hitcher.It's basically a much Darker and Edgier variation of O. Henry's "The Ransom of Red Chief".

The film provides examples of:

  • Affably Evil: Cohen despite being a professional mob hitman, he couldn't bring himself to kill Travis near the end of the film.
  • Alas, Poor Villain: Cohen at the end of the film, to the point of being Driven to Suicide.
  • Antagonist Title: Cohen and Tate are the name of the film's villains which young Travis tried to elude as well as the Villain Protagonists of the overall film.
  • Ax-Crazy: Tate is a psychopath obsessed with hurting and/or killing everyone he can.
  • Badass Longcoat: Cohen wears a long trench coat.
  • Balance of Power: Possibly why Cohen & Tate was forced to work with each other so they can compensate for each other's personality, flaws, strengths, and weakness. Cohen balance out Tate's hotheadedness, Tate balances out Cohen's age, and physical weakness.
  • Batman Gambit: Travis pulls this on his captors by figuring out Cohen and Tate's psychological weaknesses. Cohen is old and weary, and Tate is an unhinged reckless psycho.
  • Big Bad: At first Cohen and Tate acts as the Big Bad Duumvirate with The Don who hired them to be the Greater-Scope Villain, but by the climax, Tate acts as this solely.
  • Boring, but Practical: Cohen's method of killing. And ironically the thing that screws him and Tate over in the end.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Cohen. Actually the only one in the movie with a bit of sarcasm.
  • Divide and Conquer: Travis play Cohen and Tate off of each other.
  • Do Not Taunt Cthulhu: Travis does this A LOT to Tate. But this is part of his gambit to get the tension between Tate and Cohen to build up. As he knows Cohen won't allow Tate to hurt him before they get to their employers.
  • Driven to Suicide: Cohen shoots himself in front of Travis after realizing there was no escape after being surrounded by police in every direction.
  • Even Evil Has Loved Ones: Cohen stops by a mailbox to deliver an envelope of cash and a trinket to a family member named Pamela Cohen living in California.
  • Even Evil Has Standards: Cohen is driven by principle unlike the amoral Tate, it's because of these principles is why he turns against Tate and couldn't bring to commit Murder-Suicide/Taking You with Me with Travis even when he's on the brink of a Villainous Breakdown and decides to kill himself instead at the end.
  • Evil vs. Evil: Cohen and Tate, who already had feud to start with, end up fighting and trying to kill each other.
  • Faux Affably Evil: Tate, who warps between being a Fun Personified party animal and a savage animal at the same time.
  • The Guards Must Be Crazy: The FBI agents assigned to protect the Knight family whom apparently was in a witness protection program. Good all that did, as Cohen and Tate effortless waltzed in and killed most of everyone.
  • Heel Realization: Probably what's going through Cohen's head after going through the ordeal with Tate and now surrounded by the cops while he himself is unable to commit the deed of killing Travis himself, prompting him to turn the gun on himself instead.
  • Hidden Heart of Gold: Apparently, Cohen may have one, which Travis uses to his advantage to get him to sic on Tate and how he refuses to kill him despite several chances.
  • Improbable Aiming Skills: Cohen is VERY skilled with his Colt pistol. he shoots a state trooper in the back of the head while driving behind said troopers squad car. After suspecting of being recognized by the gas station attendant he shoots the clerk several yards away, and the phone he was using, including shooting out the power to the gas station!!, Travis' dad was one lucky mofo to survive being shot by this guy.
  • Irony: Cohen pretty much chew out Tate over the fact he's a Wild Card, and being careless and sloppy. The irony comes from the fact that Tate, makes sure all of his victims are deader than dead, while Cohen's reserved, practical method of killing Travis dad with one shot fails to get the job done. Essentially setting into motion their gradual downfall.
  • I Work Alone: Cohen apparently use to, but was forced to work with Tate by their employers.
  • Laughably Evil: Tate, a psycho with a twisted sense of humor.
  • Let's You and Him Fight: Cohen and Tate are definitely not getting along at any point of their partnership and Travis tries to manipulate them into killing each other constantly and succeeds at the climax. The resulting fight ends Tate, and Cohen survives long enough to figure out he screwed up the assignment, deciding to kill himself rather than be taken by the cops.
  • Noble Demon: Cohen, who still has a little humanity left in him despite being a hired killer.
  • Oh, Crap!: When Travis see that Tate is still alive after looking through the back windshield, whom was creepily illuminated thanks to the red brake lights.
  • Order Versus Chaos: Cohen and Tate are almost physical manifestations of this respectively. Cohen being calm and level headed, while Tate is the polar opposite.
  • Plethora of Mistakes: Whoo boy... possibly starting with the fact that Cohen botched his kill (Travis' dad). Which led to a gradual domino effect of issues.
  • Punch-Clock Villain: Unlike Tate who kills for the fun of it, Cohen's an old pro only concern with accomplishing his job and is a Noble Demon in comparison to Tate.
  • Red Oni, Blue Oni: Cohen and Tate, So much so they can't even stand each other, and start to show signs of very short nerves towards the end. Travis of course helps move this along until their Villainous Breakdown.
  • Road Trip Plot: 90% of the movie takes place on the road.
  • Tempting Fate: Travis does this A LOT to Tate. But this is part of his gambit to get the tension between Tate and Cohen to build up until both of them has a detrimental Villainous Breakdown. As he knows Cohen won't allow Tate to hurt him before they get to their employers.
  • The Sociopath: Cohen could be this. Unlike Tate he rarely shows emotions. He kills people without losing his composture and he outright tells Travis that he'll be probably killed by his boss after being interrogated. However, after all that happened and near the end, Cohen points his gun at Travis several times, but he decides against it, showing a little bit of humanity, which is even pointed out by Travis himself.
  • Supporting Protagonist: Most of the character arc and tension between Cohen and Tate are told from the viewpoint of and manipulated by Travis.
  • There Is No Kill Like Overkill: Tate uses SIX shotgun shells to kill Travis's mom, while Cohen shoots his dad just once (a shot that didn't kill him). Which leads to the Plethora of Mistakes.
  • Took a Level in Badass: Travis becomes a Defiant Captive who uses his psychological wits and guile to pit his two kidnappers against each other.
  • Villain Protagonist: The titular Cohen and Tate, especially the former, when Tate becomes the personal Big Bad and the actual threat of the story.
  • Villain Respect: By the end of the film, Cohen developed this towards Travis.
  • Villainous BSoD: Cohen has one when he is surrounded by the cops before killing himself.
  • Villainous Breakdown: Thanks to Travis turning his captors against each other, both the titular Cohen and Tate ended up going through this.
  • Wild Card: Tate, being a hot headed psycho..
  • Wise Beyond Their Years: Travis, despite being a nine-year-old, is smart enough to use psychological manipulation to get his enemies to kill each other.
  • Witless Protection Program: The film begins with the Knight family entering Witness Protection and about four minutes later (and very shortly afterwards In-Universe) Cohen and Tate arriving to the safe house and massacring all of the Federal agents assigned to protect the family and the family except for Travis and Travis' dad, if only accidentally.
  • Witness Protection: The Knight family, for being a witness in a organized crime case.
  • Worthy Opponent: What is ultimately boils down to, a rapport between Travis and Cohen.
  • You're Insane!: Travis yells at Cohen that Tate is "nuts", in which Cohen replies by wearily saying "I Know".