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Film / Judas Kiss

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Judas Kiss is a 1998 American crime thriller film that stars Alan Rickman, Emma Thompson, Roscoe Lee Browne, Carla Gugino, Simon Baker-Denny, Gil Bellows, Hal Holbrook, Richard Riehle, and Til Schweiger. It is directed by Sebastian Gutierrez.

Coco Chavez and Junior Armstrong are two small-time criminals who make money at blackmail and sex scams. They attempt to break into the big time by kidnapping a computer genius and holding him for a $4 million ransom. To help them, they enlist Lizard Browning and Ruben Rubenbauer who provide firepower and technology. However, during the kidnapping, they accidentally kill the young wife of Louisiana Senator Hornbeck.

Racked by guilt, Coco and the group are pursued by veteran Federal Bureau of Investigation agent Sadie Hawkins and grizzled New Orleans detective David Friedman. The two combative officers enjoy showing up one another during their investigation, as well as commiserate about their jobs and personal foibles. Coco and Junior also have to deal with henchmen hired by the Senator to get revenge on the group.

As the plot unfolds, it appears that the murder may not have been entirely accidental. Detective Friedman's suspicions are raised when Senator Hornbeck threatens the detectives instead of offering assistance. On the cusp of getting away with a nearly flawless crime, the group faces betrayal from within.

Tropes in Judas Kiss:

  • Accidental Murder: The gang goes into the apartment building planning to pull off a kidnapping. The shooting of Mrs Hornbeck is seemingly an unfortunate case of 'wrong place, wrong time'. However, as events progress, Coco, Det. Friedman and Special Agent Hawkins all start to feel that the killing might not have been as accidental as it first appears.
  • The Big Easy: Set in New Orleans. It avoids most of the cliches, but the humid heat is a constant presence, and the above ground graveyards make a brief appearance.
  • Briefcase Full of Money: The hapless accountant Walters is sent scurrying all around New Orleans carrying the aluminium briefcase with $4 million for Dyson's ransom, before eventually being ordered to throw it out of a train window as they pass over a bridge.
  • Bullet Dancing: While dealing with Dirty Cop Matty Grimes, Friedman fires his gun into the floor a fraction of an inch away from Grimes' foot; causing him to jump back and blurt out the answer Friedman wants.
  • Can't Tie His Tie: He is not actually wearing a tie, but Coco straightens Junior's collar and the lapels on his jacket before he leaves to collect the ransom.
  • Cloudcuckoolander: Ruben may have been punched in the head a few too many times during his boxing career. He tries to impress potential employers by playing Russian Roulette and, when that fails with Coco, he wins her over by mamboing with her. He will also turn any simple question into a Seinfeldian Conversation.
  • A Deadly Affair: Becky Hornbeck is killed as she is coming to her lover's apartment in what appears to a case of Accidental Murder. However, as the investigation progresses, both Agent Hawkins and Det. Friedman start to suspect her death may not have been so accidental, and that her affair may have been the real trigger.
  • Deadly Delivery: Coco and Junior pose as delivery people to get Dyson to open his door so they can abduct him.
  • Dirty Cop: Detective Matty Grimes is on the payroll of Senator Hornbeck and has been tailing his wife and tapping her phone. He later turns up in an attempt to clean a crime scene for the Senator but is busted by Agent Hawkins.
  • Dramatic Drop: When Coco learns that the woman she murdered was the wife of a senator, she drops the tub of ice cream she is eating.
  • Drives Like Crazy: Detective Friedman makes an offhand comment about being a terrible driver early on in the film. It turns into a Brick Joke much later when he crashes his car while trying to follow Rickles, breaking his ankle and Hawkins' nose.
  • Electrified Bathtub: Rickles knocks a radio into a kitchen sink full of water. He then jams Dyson's hands into the sink. This doesn't kill Dyson, but does badly stun and burn him.
  • Extremely Short Timespan: Barring the short epilogue (which occurs 3 months later), the events of the film take about 24 hours.
  • Fake Static: Junior pretends that his phone battery is dying as he and Ruben are driving back from the ransom pickup. He uses this as an excuse to stop the car, claiming that he has spare battery in the back. Once out of the car, he shoots Ruben in the head.
  • FBI Agent: Emma Thompson plays FBI Agent Sadie Hawkins, the lead agent in charge of investigating the abduction of tech entrepreneur Ben Dyson. Various lesser agents buzz around her doing her bidding. In an aversion of Jurisdiction Friction, she actually gets on well and collaborates with Detective David Friedman (Alan Rickman), the New Orleans police detective in charge of investigating the homicide that occurred at the same time as the kidnapping.
  • Filching Food for Fun: After knocking out the security guard, Ruben steals his bag of chips and eats them while the kidnapping is going down. He also steals the guard's porno tapes.
  • Genre Savvy: During some lighthearted banter with Detective Friedman, Agent Sadie Hawkins reels off a list of every trope/cliche that normally applies to female FBI Agents in movies. Over the course of the film, she demonstrates that not a single one of them applies to her. (Except possibly her being a better driver than Friedman, and he was the one brought that up, not her.)
  • Golf Clubbing: Friedman attacks Grimes broken foot with a golf club in an effort to force some answers out of him.
  • Headphones Equal Isolation: Friedman's daughter is wearing headphones and fails to notice her father beating up Matty Grimes with a golf club in the next room, accompanied by Grimes' screams.
  • The Immodest Orgasm: When Coco and Junior have sex immediately after the kidnapping, Coco's orgasmic cries can heard by the rest of the gang no matter where they are in the house, to the extent that Lizard puts on headphones in an attempt to drown her out.
  • It Works Better with Bullets: When Hornbeck's thugs break into the hideout, Coco grabs one one the guns only to find that someone has removed the magazine.
  • Jack Bauer Interrogation Technique: Friedman uses a golf club (and some Bullet Dancing) to force some answers out of Dirty Cop Matty Grimes. Somewhat justified in that: a) Grimes is not officially a suspect or in custody; b) Friedman does not intend using any information he gets out of Grimes in court; and c) Friedman really dislikes Grimes (who is married to his ex-wife).
  • Jurisdiction Friction: Averted. Detective Friedman and Agent Hawkins are old friends, and approach the shared case (the kidnapping is federal, the homicide is local) like mature adults. It helps that Friedman didn't want the case in the first place, and is getting more push back from his own police force than from the feds. Hawkins, who is removed from the local politics, uses her status to help Friedman, such as securing a crime scene before a Dirty Cop can tamper with it.
  • Locked in a Room: Coco tells Lizard the story of how she and Junior first met when they got locked inside a supermarket cold room during a break-in gone wrong. By the next morning, they were a couple.
  • No Honour Among Thieves: The entire kidnap scheme is revealed to have been a ploy by Junior to manipulate Coco into killing the senator's wife. He then gets paid off, kills Ruben, and leaves the rest of the gang to be killed by Hornbeck's henchmen as they come to torture Dyson.
  • Obfuscating Disability: Detective Grimes fakes having a broken foot to avoid having to investigate the murder of Becky Hornbeck. Friedman exposes him by subjecting him to some Bullet Dancing.
  • Once More, with Clarity: A partial example, in that the scenes had not actually be shown but had been alluded to by the characters. However, when the hideout is invaded by Senator Hornbeck's thugs, Coco has flashbacks to her actual conversations with Junior in planning the kidnapping. With the benefit of hindsight (and with the audience hearing the actual discussion for the first time), she realises that Junior had been manipulating her the entire time to place her in a position where she would be forced to shoot Becky.
  • Playing Sick: Detective Grimes fakes having a broken foot to avoid having to investigate Becky Hornbeck's murder. This tells Detective Friedman that Grimes knew that Becky was going to murdered before the fact, as he had enough time to fake his injury.
  • Repetitive Name: Ruben Rubenbauer.
  • Room Disservice: At the end of the film, Coco kills Junior by posing as a waitress and shooting him on the beach at a resort in Mexico.
  • Russian Roulette: Ruben plays Russian to alleviate his boredom. And because he's not right in the head.
  • Seinfeldian Conversation: Just about any conversation with Ruben is guaranteed to go off an a tangent that makes sense to no one but Ruben, and usually leaves his partners wondering how they ended up here. One example of this is when Junior and Ruben are driving back from the ransom pickup and Junior tries to make a point about The Caper by referring to the Errol Flynn picture Objective, Burma!. Before he can finish his point, Ruben interrupts to ask if Errol Flynn as gay. This then segues into a long story about his mother and why he hates old movies ever since he learned Rock Hudson and Cary Grant were gay. Especially poignant as it is Ruben's last conversation, as Junior shoots him the head partway through.
  • Surveillance Station Slacker: The security guard at Dyson's building is watching a porno film rather than the surveillance monitors when Ruben sneaks up to him and knocks him out.
  • Suspect Is Hatless: The security guard gives Detective Friedman a description of the person he saw taping over the camera lens, the only one of the kidnappers he saw before he was knocked out. He had dark hair and was in his late 20s. Or 30s. Or maybe 40s. He then admits that his eyesight isn't so good.
  • Tropical Epilogue: The 'Three Months Later' epilogue shows Junior lying on a sunlounge on a beach in Mexico as a bikini-clad waitress brings him a fresh round of cold drinks. Junior looks up to discover that the waitress in actually Coco, who shoots him with a silenced gun hidden under the tray. She puts the tray down on his chest cover the wound and walks off.
  • You, Get Me Coffee: The first thing Detective Friedman does on arriving at the crime scene is to order a uniformed officer to get him a tape recorder and a refill, handing him his empty coffee cup.