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This 2002 thriller, directed by Michael Apted, is basically a Lifetime Movie of the Week, on the big-screen, turned Up To Eleven.

Stars Jennifer Lopez as Slim, a woman who leaves her evil husband behind. However, he turns out to be rather determined to bring her back, so she might have to fight back...

This film provides examples of:

  • All Men Are Perverts: The reason this whole mess started? Another man made a bet about whether or not he would be able to get into Slim's pants, and Mitch intervened on her behalf. Except it turns out he and Mitch were in cahoots the whole time, and that this was a trick they used to help each other pick up girls.
  • At Least I Admit It: Once Mitch realizes the game is up, he admits to Slim that he believes in his own desires coming before others (especially if it's because he's a man) rather than making lame excuses. Of course, this is probably one of the worst things that someone can say while trying to maintain a relationship.
  • Berserk Button: Mitch does not react well to his masculinity being called into question when his wife starts hitting back.
    • His other major button seems to be that he takes it quite badly when others don't submit to his 'important' requests and demands, even if it is unreasonable. He's even willing to threaten Robbie's career just because Robbie was reluctant to go outside the law.
  • Beware the Nice Ones: Mitch learns this the hard way. By the final confrontation he is taunting her and acting like she's gonna give in if he hits her hard enough, and then he gets hit in the face.
  • Bitch in Sheep's Clothing: Taken up to eleven with Mitch. Turns out the whole loving husband image is fake, when his true self is actually someone who goes beyond his possessive behavior and really likes to rely on using fear on literally everyone to achieve his goals if necessary.
  • Black-and-White Insanity: Count the number of times Mitch goes from being casual and calm to threatening or rageful in less than five seconds.
  • Broken Aesop: Hoo, boy. Even though the movie tries to show Slim as an "empowered" and self-reliant woman, it's men who ultimately help her and Gracie throughout the film (her formerly Disappeared Dad gave her money, her ex-boyfriend hid the two of them in his apartment and even a man physically trains her to fight all the while knowing what her true intentions of meeting up with Mitch are.)
  • Car Fu: Because there are ever so many abused women that get into high-speed car chases with their husbands and crooked cops. Self-imposed, in this case, on the Dirty Cop who tries to chase her mid-sized sedan across a condemned bridge and nearly loses his head in his taller SUV when he hits a low support beam.
  • Cell Phones Are Useless: A rare invocation by the hero(ine): part of Slim's preparation of the battleground for her climactic confrontation with Mitch is to disable his home's phone and activate a cell phone jammer she brought with her so he won't be able to call for help.
  • Chekhov's Skill: Slim is shown learning how to break out of a choke from the front by driving her elbow down onto an attacker's forearm. This comes in handy during the final confrontation when Mitch tries the exact same choke.
  • Combat Pragmatist: Slim, when she Took a Level in Badass. Notably, when she takes on Mitch, she wears steel-toecapped boots and heavy rings under her hand wraps to even the odds.
  • Crazy-Prepared: Slim to almost Batman-like levels. Whenever she moves house, she has an exit strategy planned. Before she confronts Mitch at his place in the climax, she moves the furniture around, memorizes the whole house, finds and hides his guns with a metal detector and jams his phone so he cannot call for help or trigger an alarm.
  • Demonization: It's commonly noted that Mitch is depicted as a plain evil scumbag to the core with no sympathetic qualities, despite the fact that he's very mentally obsessed with complete control over his own surroundings and that he absolutely refuses to give up anything he values, insecurities which normally should make him a little pitiful.
  • Deus Angst Machina: Mitch is rich enough and well-connected enough to do whatever the hell he wants to Slim and get off scott free. Of course, what he does for a living and what his connections actually are are ridiculously vague.
    • Near the start of the film it's shown Mitch owns some sort of construction company.
  • Didn't Think This Through: One of Mitch's worst weaknesses, if not the WORST, is that his drastic methods just do nothing but end up destroying the control he is trying to hold over Slim and their marriage. Had he actually taken a second to maintain his anger and call the police after knocking Slim out from behind, he might have very well ended up victorious. Instead, he chose to further take out his rage on Slim, which ended up getting him killed.
  • Dogged Nice Guy: Slim's ex-boyfriend Joe. When she flees for the first time, she goes to his apartment and he doesn't reveal her hiding place despite three men threatening him with a knife. Later, he visits her in Michigan, where they share a bed for one night, and she says he's "really not that bad" (few guys are, compared with Mitch.) After that, Joe disappears until the end credits, when he pops up with Slim and Gracie on a boat.
  • Domestic Abuse: One of the reasons the movie is widely hated is its use of Domestic Abuse, a very sensitive topic, as a thriller. In fact, one of the things portrayed in the film that makes it more interesting is the fact that Mitch appears to show obvious signs of being a Sociopath. In reality, legitimate Sociopaths are uncommon among abusers.
  • Double Standard: Abuse, Female on Male: To be fair, Mitch is showcased throughout the whole movie to be an unrelenting, absurdly evil and absurdly well-connected abusive husband, but the climactic fight is not Slim fighting Mitch off, but performing premeditated breaking and entering and murder, which is no different from what Mitch had done at least once during the movie (and also she plants falsified letters and other items that will help with her "self defense" testimony). If the movie was not a high-budget Lifetime Movie of the Week, chances are that Slim would have seen the inside of a jail cell for some time (at least until the investigation cleared her), or ended with a He Who Fights Monsters aesop. Instead, out into the sunset she goes, without an ounce of angst from her, or her kid.
  • Entitled Bastard: Mitch is ultimately revealed to be this, insisting he will always have his way regardless of Slim's feelings, and is determined to remain married while cheating on her to his satisfaction.
  • Fatal Flaw: Mitch displays this in a combination of Greed, Pride, and Lust.
  • Faux Affably Evil: Played painfully straight. It's very obvious that Mitch's "nice guy" persona is clearly a deliberate act to give a false impression to others, as opposed to going with the flow. He's not polite even once whenever he drops it.
  • Genre Shift: After Slims escapes Mitch for the first time, have fun deciding on whether the film is supposed to be a crime, action, or psychological thriller for the rest of the movie.
  • Hate Sink: Unlike some abusers, Mitch has absolutely no redeeming qualities except when they are for his own desires, nor any sign of a tragic background that would explain his character. He demanded more respect than he had for others, especially when cheating on his wife's back for years, felt entitled to judge and control everything and everyone with no concern to anyone's feelings, and preferred to solve every problem with others using disrespect, impoliteness, and threats. The fact that he was willing to kill his wife in front of his daughter after shoving her aside shows just how badly he had no patience with others and wanted to control them for his own desires.
  • Hypocrite: Mitch at one point scolds his dirty cop friend for referring to Slim as a bitch....moments after calling her one for interrupting his phone call with Gracie. Mitch was also a hypocrite from the very beginning as he cheated on Slim to his heart's content, yet stopped at nothing to remain married. Even Robbie acknowledges this by mentioning how Mitch intended to not let marriage interfere with his ways in the old days.
  • If I Can't Have You…: Said verbatim by Mitch while he's attacking Slim.
  • I'm a Man; I Can't Help It: Mitch's justification for his affairs before he stops feeling that he has to justify his actions to his wife at all, and it becomes a case of 'I'm a man, I can do what I want'.
  • Implacable Man: Mitch literally chases Slim and Gracie across the entire country.
  • Instant Expert: Slim picks up Krav Maga with ridiculous ease. Sure, it is easy to learn quickly, but you don't get that good after one lesson.
  • It's All About Me: Mitch prioritizes himself over others and seems to believe that the entire world and everything he has revolves around him. Everything he does in the film is mostly about and for his own benefit and needs.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Slim's father Jupiter is initially dismissive of her when she comes for help, though not without reason as many people tried to scam him before with stories about being his children due to his Really Gets Around nature. However, when he realizes that Slim really is his daughter after Mitch's thugs come to threaten him, he not only sends her the money to help her and her daughter out, but even promises to send more if she needs it.
  • Jerk With A Heart Of Jerk: Mitch, an abusive misogynistic and adulterous psychopath who spends nearly the whole story trying to track down and kill his wife who escaped his abuse in order to get back their daughter. The resources he can call upon to keep on his Domestic Abuse are almost to super-villain levels since he mainly relies on connections with dirty cops he has leverage on and goons working for his company. Also, whenever he appears to be doing something generous for others, it's really for his own benefit.
  • Lack of Empathy: Mitch is an unnerving example. He has absolutely no regret for almost everything he does, seems prone to lying about most women to hide his affairs, doesn't care about Slim's protests to him ignoring her in favor of cheating on her, and is completely unwilling to submit to the desires or opinions of almost every single person that tries to fight him. He even shoves his daughter aside and continues to try to attack her mother in front of her.
  • Lifetime Movie of the Week: It tries to be a Hollywood popcorn flick in disguise with some recognizable faces and a bit of action-packed scenes, but has many of the tropes you would see on the channel in full force.
  • Love Makes You Crazy: Mitch claims he chose Slim and wants her back possibly because of this. But given what we see from his behavior, it doesn't really even seem likely he knows what love even is, even if it were exaggerated.
  • Mama Bear: When she finally fights back, there is a series of flashes from previous scenes of her being abused. What made her pull the killing blow was when she remembered him hurting Gracie for trying to protect her.
  • Melodrama: Pretty much your standard "battered wife" Lifetime drama upgraded to nearly-The Fugitive levels of "action" thriller.
  • Murder Is the Best Solution: Slim was even told that Mitch was powerful enough to get away with it, and any legal action she takes would just allow him to track her down and kill her. It wasn't exactly the best option but it may have really been her only option. Though for this to work we have to of course accept that Mitch has numerous powerful friends in every division of every police department everywhere, among other things.
  • Narcissist: While it's his possessive personality that motivates most of his actions through out the film, Mitch also appears to have an exaggerated sense of self-importance that contributes. He is clearly self-absorbed as he repeatedly exploits others for his own personal gain, while prioritizing his own feelings and desires at the expense of others and displaying little empathy each time.
    • He clearly has a delusional/fake sense of superiority over others, as he can't and won't take "no" for an answer even over typical requests that are "important" to him, even if it is unreasonable. He also believed that because he was the breadwinner, that he had more of a right than Slim to decide how their lives worked. He also insisted that she should be grateful for him giving her a happy life and therefore tolerate his decisions, even though he admitted that his own business was more important than her making him happy. He lied to women about his circumstances, as well making himself look like a hero, solely for the purpose to manipulate them into going out with him.
    • The opening montage seems to focus on this rather than his obsessive side. During the wedding, he asks Slim, "Are you going to give me babies?". He then completely ignores Slims when she commands him to give their newly born daughter to her in a very casual tone. Oh, and he lies about a call clearly coming from his mistress being from construction, revealing that he was cheating on her since the beginning of the marriage.
  • Nice Job Fixing It, Villain: When Slim goes to her Disappeared Dad for help, as she has nobody else to turn to. As he Really Gets Around, he's heard this story enough times not to believe it at face value and dismisses her and Gracie. But when thugs working for Mitch show up and threaten him not to help Slim out, he immediately provides her with all the money she needs, because if she wasn't his child, Mitch would have had no reason to try and keep him from helping Slim.
  • Not Good with Rejection: Mitch is clearly this, demanding that Slim accept her marriage to him as it is. She finds out just how serious she is when she rejects him upon finding he has tracked her down in Michigan.
  • One-Word Title: While it's not said on-screen, it's pretty obvious that it crossed Slim's mind every time she makes a major decision (run away with her daughter, kill Mitch).
  • Only Known By Her Nickname: We never do learn Slim's real name.
  • Pay Evil unto Evil: Once it is made clear that Mitch will only stop once Slim is dead (and he doesn't minds sending her friends to the grave before her), Slim decides to kill him.
  • Plot-Inciting Infidelity: Slim finds out her husband's true nature when she accidentally discovers from his pager number that he is cheating on her. He appears to be remorseful at first, but then after Slim smells perfume, she correctly figures that he's been cheating for a long time. He simply boasts and laughs in her face about how he deserves it simply because he's the breadwinner and a man
  • Police Are Useless:
    • The cops who are clean cannot help Slim in any way (even with copious amount of evidence and multiple witnesses). The ones who are dirty are all friends of Mitch and using their connections as cops to help him track her all over the country and try to strong-arm said witnesses.
    • Averted in that Slim doesn't bother calling them later on. A lawyer she consults with after Mitch goes after her in Michigan calls her out on this, stating that she had two chances to report him, getting his abuses on record, and didn't. He also points out that if Slim misses her court date with Mitch, he can then legally track her down and she'll end up in jail for contempt.
    • Also played straight in that even with Mitch's connections and wealth, his Dirty Cop friend has limits to what he can do without calling attention to himself and isn't seen again after losing Slim in a car chase; implying that Mitch was Gaslighting Slim and relied more on private investigators and hired thugs to handle his dirty work than dirty cops.
  • Politically Incorrect Villain: In addition to his rampant misogyny, Mitch also refers to one of Slim's friends as a "rughead" when he catches them helping Slim sneak out of the house with Gracie.
  • Protagonist-Centered Morality: While the movie established that Mitch was a dog-kicking monster who if given half the chance would punt the animal up and down the street like he was trying to win the World Cup... Slim premeditated his murder, broke into his house, initiated a fight, and isn't even arrested (the police proved to be thoroughly useless by that point). As the tagline suggests "Self defense isn't murder". Never mind that it sorta stops being self defense when you break into someone's house to beat them to death with your bare hands. The ending would likely have been better received if Slim had just waited for Mitch to make the first move (which he clearly would have done, given the chance) and then given him a taste of her newly-acquired self defense skills rather than start it herself.
  • Screw the Rules, I Have Connections!: Mitch has a ridiculous number of Dirty Cops and thugs (some of whom might be impersonating cops) at his beck and call in various locations around the country with which he can track down Slim. As a result, going to the police isn't an option for Slim.
  • Self-Defense Ruse: The Tagline is "Self defense isn't murder". When Slim decides she's tired of running from her abusive misogynistic husband, she breaks into his home, initiates a fight, and plants falsified items and letters that would help her claim that her murder of him was all in self-defense.
  • Smug Snake: In an abusive relationship, rather than showing that he's externally insecure or temperamental, Mitch instead is portrayed as ridiculously arrogant. His reaction to Slim calling him out on his nonsense? It's his call and not hers' on how the marriage and choices play out, and he simply justifies this by telling her she more or less asked for it since she married him.
  • The Sociopath: Unlike most individuals in a bad relationship, Mitch seems to be an especially grandiose and example of a sociopath. He never wastes time being polite and reasoning with others to get what he wants, and has no problem using outright threats rather than logic to get what he wants. He feels little regret or empathy for his actions and hardly seems to care about preserving his self-morality, as he abuses his power and superiority over Slim and others to do as he pleases. It's safe to assume that because of this, his obsession with keeping his family in his life was more about self-preservation for his insecurities rather than being a truly caring husband and father.
  • Straw Misogynist: Both Mitch and Robbie are this. They conned women into sleeping with them for personal gratification and discarded them after some time. Robbie seems to be far more open about it though, if the scene where he helps Mitch track down Slim is any indication, while Mitch is more of a general narcissist.
  • Threat Backfire: Mitch's hired thugs threatens Slim's biological father not to help her out. He immediately provides her with an exorbitant amount of money and a decoy person as to convince Mitch that Slim is somewhere else while she turns his house into a booby trap.
  • Tired of Running: After spending most of the movie trying to escape from Mitch, Slim finally gets sick of running from him and fights back.
  • Took a Level in Badass: Slim passes from an innocent housewife into a Lara Croft - like Action Girl.
  • Trailers Always Spoil: In about three minutes you find out the Mitch is an abuser, Slim gets away with her kid, that a country-wide chase that wouldn't look out of place in The Fugitive ensues, that Slim starts to get all Batman (including disguises), and that she will at some point get so fed up that she takes martial arts lessons and gets in an all-out brawl with Mitch with the objective of killing him... well, "self-defense is not murder", she says, so... it's all right, we guess?
  • Training Montage: Slim undergoes one when she's learning to fight.
  • Ungrateful Bastard: Mitch isn't ungrateful so much as he doesn't seem to care that much that his wife was completely devoted to doing her job for him when he clearly felt that his own personal interests and desires such as cheating behind her back was much more important.
  • Unskilled, but Strong: Mitch, as we discover when Slim confronts him at the end. She knows what she's doing, he just prefers raw power.
  • Violence is the Only Option: A core theme of the film. Slim realizes that it comes down to either "kill or be killed" to truly be free of her abusive husband, who was fleshed out to be a prominent example of this. Mitch never once considers using logical reasoning or uses any of his shady manipulative tactics (which he can be quite clever with, as seen in the beginning) whenever there's a "problem" and seems to act as if threats and intimidation is the one and only solution to solve them. This also gives the impression that he's not someone who represents wisdom much at all.
  • What Does He See in Her?: The film never actually explains the precise reason why Mitch is so determined to keep so much control over his wife and child, when for the most part he's largely a rather self-serving sociopath who pays more attention to himself than his family.
  • Would Hurt a Child: While Mitch starts the film unwilling to be abusive in front of Gracie, he later shoves his daughter to the ground when she attempts to stop him from attacking Slim after tracking her down.