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Film / Give 'Em Hell, Malone

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Give 'Em Hell, Malone is a 2009 Neo-Noir film produced by Russell Mulcahy, who also brought us Razorback and Highlander. It stars Thomas Jane, Ving Rhames and Elsa Pataky.

Malone (Jane) is a former private eye, who has turned gun for hire. One day, he receives a job to retrieve a briefcase from a hotel but he the finds the building is filled with armed gangsters. After a violent shootout with the mobsters, of which Malone is the lone survivor, he manages to get the case. Suspecting that the job was a set up, he returns to his handler, Murphy (Leland Orser), to find out who hired him. It turns out it was the beautiful Evelyn (Pataky) who hired Malone to steal the case from a gang controlled by the local crime lord, Whitmore (Gregory Harrison), as she needs it to trade for her brother whom Whitmore is holding hostage.

Meanwhile Whitmore learns that the case has been taken and is furious. He puts a five million bounty on Malone and brings in the local Psychos For Hire to retrieve the case.

But things are not as clear cut as they seem...

A sequel was greenlighted for production in 2021.

Tropes include:

  • Action Prologue: The first ten minutes of the movie depicts Malone in the middle of a shootout against plenty of mooks, which he emerged victorious.
  • Ain't Too Proud to Beg: In a last-ditch bid to save his life, Whitmore tries to strike a bargain with Malone to reveal the location of his family. Malone instead pumps two bullets into him with a Pre-Mortem One-Liner.
  • The Alcoholic: Malone is constantly swigging from bottles of whisky and Gloria, his mother, makes him recite the twelve steps when he comes to see her.
  • And Show It to You: Malone has a fearsome reputation from hunting down the people who killed his family and ripping their hearts out with his bare hands. Though since his family are not dead, he probably never killed anyone that way.
    Whitmore: And, Boulder... ripped out a man's heart and ate it? The physics of punching through a man's sternum alone make that an impossibility. Next time, spare me the hyperbole.
  • Affectionate Parody: Of Film Noir and the tropes common to the Hardboiled Detective in particular. It's mostly a loving Homage to the Dick Tracy-type over-the-top take on the genre...and then you get to the retirement home scenes.
  • Arc Words: "The meaning of love." The first time Malone says it, it sounds like he's throwing out a sarcastic answer. Every time he says it afterwards, it becomes clearer it means something to him.
  • Bad Boss: Whitmore, and how. He doesn't just blackmail his Dragon with the life of his ailing wife, he successfully tricks Malone into wiping out his entire syndicate. Unwilling to take the fall for his many, many crimes, Whitmore decides to go "legit" by having every single person who knows about his criminal history slaughtered and trying to pin the deeds on Malone—this includes his own pregnant lover, whom Whitmore icily guns down himself. This behavior is ultimately his downfall; seeing with his own eyes how disposable he is to Whitmore, Boulder beats down Whitmore with his own baseball bat and allows Malone to finish him off.
  • Bench Breaker: After Mauler knocks him out with a Tranquillizer Dart, Malone wakes up and finds himself tied to a chair on a stage. To escape, he pushes the chair off the stage, shattering it. Then he grabs a broken chair leg and impales Mauler as she jumps down.
  • Blade Enthusiast: Mauler is literally armed to the teeth with various blades and eschews guns. Her actress describes her as "a sinister Asian Shirley Temple-ish knife-wielding crazy delusional girl".
    Boulder: The Mauler? Have you seen where she keeps her knives?
  • Covered with Scars: Matchstick has burn scars all over his body from a fire he started as a child. After the first time Malone immolates him, it seems like there is not an inch of unscarred skin left.
  • Cute and Psycho: Mauler is introduced wearing Girlish Pigtails and a school uniform. What she does next to a poor schmuck is... unpleasant.
  • Dead Guy on Display: After Mauler knocks him out with a Tranquillizer Dart, Malone wakes up and finds himself tied to a chair in a theatre with the corpses of all of Whitmore's lieutenants in the seats. Then music starts and Frankie the Crooner's body, propped up on a wheeled stand with a microphone taped in his hand, moves across the stage.
  • Death by Origin Story: Malone turned from private eye to feared gun-for-hire when gunmen sadistically killed his family and his brother's family. He then tracked the killers down and gruesomely killed them in a Roaring Rampage of Revenge. Subverted when it is revealed that his family is not dead. Malone knew that in his line of work, his family would be the first ones targeted by anyone wanting to hurt him. So he hid them and made up stories about their demise.
  • Destination Defenestration: Malone's very first onscreen kill, a mook he shot out of a window which happens right in the first two seconds of the film.
  • Erotic Eating: Mauler's first scene is meeting a guy that she had contacted over the internet under the name Lollipop69 and seducing him by sucking on a lollipop.
  • Fedora of Asskicking: Malone and Boulder both wear a stylish fedora when kicking ass.
  • Femme Fatale: Evelyn; it wouldn't be Noir without one. Emphasis on fatale as she is working for Whitmore and manipulating Malone the entire time.
  • Film Noir: Specifically Neo-Noir, what with the mobile phones and all.
  • Foreshadowing
    • Whitmore is the only one to express any doubt on anybody being able to rip the heart out of a chest because he knows Malone's backstory is false.
    • Whitemore's hostage, Sammy says a very confused "sister?" before dying, a hint that he is not Evelyn's brother.
  • Functional Addict: For all the alcohol Malone drinks, it does not seem to negatively affect his motor skills or his aim.
  • Hall of Mirrors: When the Hostage for MacGuffin trade-off at the fairground goes south, Evelyn, Malone and Mauler end up in a hall of mirrors. Mauler makes full use of the mirrors to trick Malone into shooting reflections and wasting bullets, so she can get up close and take the case.
  • Heal It with Booze: Instead of seeking proper medical care, Malone gets his elderly mother, an ex-nurse to patch him up in her retirement home using his whisky as an anaesthetic and as an antiseptic.
  • Healthcare Motivation: Boulder works for Whitmore because he pays for the upkeep of life support for his comatose wife. By the end, he has accepted that she will never wake up or she died (it is unclear which one) and turns on Whitmore.
  • Heel–Face Turn: Boulder accepts that his wife will never wake up and, when he becomes the last surviving member of Whitmore's syndicate, he turns on Whitmore and lets Malone kill him. Afterward, he and Malone bury the hatchet.
    Malone: To not being dead.
  • Hero's Classic Car: Malone drives a 1952 Chop Top Buick Straight 8, a suitable car for a noir hero.
  • Hoist by His Own Petard: In the theatre, Matchstick starts spraying kerosene on Malone and threatens him with a lighter. Malone spits out the kerosene sprayed into his mouth and it catches alight from Matchstick's lighter, immolating him.
  • Inner Monologue / Private Eye Monologue: In true Noir style, Malone's inner monologue narrates the film.
  • I Want Grandkids: Malone's mother is not very subtle about her want for grandchildren.
    Gloria: Esther's granddaughter was here. She looks fertile, Malone.
    Malone: Wow. You got a hell of a way of selling a gal.
  • Jar Potty: Malone chains Evelyn to the radiator and when she asks what to do if she needs to go to the toilet, he pushes across a pot plant.
    Malone: Fertilize.
  • Last-Name Basis: Everyone calls the main character Malone, including his own mother.
  • Leg Focus: There are some Male Gaze shots that show off Evelyn's legs, especially since she likes dressing in a way that exposes them.
  • Lounge Lizard: Frankie the Crooner spends his time badly singing to either a disinterested club crowd or the senile residents of a retirement home.
  • MacGuffin: The case contains a few wads of cut up magazines and a toy elephant that Whitmore calls "the meaning of love". Whitmore desperately wants to get the elephant back and sets a five million dollar bounty on Malone's head to get it back. The elephant holds no meaning to Whitmore, it is actually the favourite toy of Malone's son, a sign that Whitmore knows Malone's family is still alive and he knows where they are.
  • Made of Iron: Malone gets shot and stabbed multiple times, yet all it takes to keep him still going is a swig of alcohol and some rough surgery from his mother to patch him up. Whitmore's plan even relies on Malone being harder to kill then all of his mooks.
    Malone's Inner Monologue: Some men are harder to kill than others. Fortunately, I'm one of the hard ones.
  • Monochrome Past: The Flashbacks are in black and white with a Splash of Color, such as the bloody hearts torn from people’s chests.
  • Mook Horror Show: When Malone is retrieving the case in the opening scene, the criminal mooks are as much running for their lives as they are trying kill Malone.
  • Pocket Protector: During the final confrontation with Whitmore, Malone is saved when a bullet hits his hip flask. He does seem rather disappointed that it spilled its contents, though.
  • Psycho for Hire: Despite Boulder's consternation, Whitmore hires Matchstick and Mauler to take out Malone and retrieve the case, outright calling them sadists.
  • Present Company Excluded: Whitmore goes into a rant about how all the men working for him want to take all his money:
    Whitmore: Look at those happy shmucks. Three hundred dollars, and they're king for an hour. Meanwhile, I'm a paying out millions of dollars a year in payroll to a bunch of two-bit crooks who make me feel like a fucking court jester.
    (Looks over at Boulder and Matchstick)
    Whitmore: Present company excluded, of course.
  • Pyromaniac: Matchstick is introduced barring the door to a disco as the patrons desperately try to escape the inferno he started. His favourite method of interrogation is covering the person in kerosene and threatening them with a lighter. Malone immolates him, twice and still has to put a bullet in him.
    Matchstick: Once Upon a Time, there was a bad little boy who loved playing with matches, you see, because fire was his only and best friend, but then after the accident, he learned to respect fire, Murph, because fire, though it's beautiful, it's consumptive, you see. It's powerful, and if you're not careful, Murph, fire will hurt you. Do you understand what I'm saying?
    Matchstick: So, as the house was burning down, the little boy's Mommy and Daddy scream. They sounded like music to his ears because now there was nothing to get between the bad little boy and his heart's desire.
    Matchstick: Fire.
  • Revolvers Are Just Better: Malone's gun of choice is a Mateba Model 6 Unica.
  • Sadistic Choice: The gunmen who killed Malone's family forced him to decide if his wife or his son would die. On top of that, once he chose his wife, they killed both of them anyway. Then again, his family never died.
  • Scary Black Man: Boulder, as to be expected from a character played by Ving Rhames. He acts as Whitmore's dragon and punches one of his guards for simply asking for ID. Despite this he is one of the more sympathetic characters and he does a Heel–Face Turn by the end.
  • Shoot the Hostage: Malone takes Evelyn hostage but Whitmore calmly kills her with a headshot.
    Whitmore: Nobody's worth that much to me.
  • Stocking Filler: There is a lingering shot of Evelyn smoothing out her stockings while on the bed.
  • The Stool Pigeon: Frankie the Crooner is an invertebrate coward, who informs on and to Malone depending on who is threatening him at the time.
  • Taking the Kids: Some time before the movie begins, Malone's wife got fed up with him and left with their son without telling him where they were going.
  • The Teetotaler: Boulder gave up drinking after his wife fell into a coma and suggests Malone join him at his weekly AA meeting even as he is getting ready to interrogate him. Malone ambushes him at the meeting and forces him to take him to Whitmore's hideout.
  • Title Drop: Gloria yells out the title while Malone is fighting Boulder in her retirement home.
  • To Be Continued: Malone calls up his family but cannot bring himself to speak to them. As he walks off, To be continued... comes up.
  • Tranquillizer Dart: Mauler captures Malone by shooting him with a blowpipe because she sometime likes "to go tribal".
  • Unreliable Narrator: As a rule, when the Hardboiled Detective is the one narrating for the audience, he isn't the one hiding something big—especially from us.
  • Using You All Along: Whitmore got Evelyn to hire Malone to steal the case. Whitmore did this so Malone would kill any man who ever worked for him and then he would kill Malone, blaming all the deaths on him. Once everyone who knew of Whitmore being a crime lord was dead, he could make a clean break and go legit.
  • Wham Line: "Malone's family's not dead".