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Film / Knockaround Guys

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We are going to get one of the three R's: the roof, the river, or the revolver.

Knockaround Guys is a 2001 film featuring Barry Pepper, Vin Diesel, Seth Green, John Malkovich, Shawn Doyle and Dennis Hopper as mobsters. Some New York mob scions are assigned to make a money drop in Montana, and end up losing the money, leading to some pretty high-stakes (and more than one murder)as they try to get it back.


  • A-Team Firing: Chris and Marbles are quite inept when they’re at a shooting range preparing for the climactic battle.
  • Added Alliterative Appeal: Teddy says if the money isn’t recovered then he and Benny are facing “the roof, the river or the revolver” as punishment.
  • Anti-Villain: Deputy Ward, who is reluctant to take the money with his boss in the first place and suggests they hand it over to the mob guys rather than risk a fight. He ends up forcibly dragged into all the mess against his will and set up as an accomplice to further force him to work with Sheriff Decker.
  • Artistic License – Gun Safety: In the finale, when Teddy empties his magazine, his gun's barrel slides back and locks, as it should have. However, when he inserts a new, fresh magazine into it, he never unlocked the gun nor chambered a round, meaning the gun would still remain locked and thus make him unable to try to pull a Quick Draw.
  • Big Bad Wannabe:
    • Once in Montana, Matty and friends try to project in-universe the cool, strong, no-bullshit mafia image, but come clearly as mostly clueless, unprepared and completely out of their depth with the situation at hand.
    • Sheriff Decker tries to be one, too. Lampshaded by Teddy, as he points out the guy who's already in charge will always thing of himself as a bigger figure than he really is.
  • Brooklyn Rage: Taylor is the toughest of the four and has a pronounced Brooklyn accent.
  • The Casanova: Chris is not only womanizer, but also proud of it.
  • The Cavalry:
    • Teddy shows up in Montana to sort things out, the old-fashioned way.
    • Chris comes back to the final shootout and dissolves the Mexican Standoff by shooting Gordy In the Back.
  • Cavalry Betrayal: Teddy and his goons didn't came to sort things out, they are there to kill everyone involved and pocket the money. If that wasn't enough, they even pull this on Marbles, saving him from a hairy situation in a bar, just to execute him in a back alley mere minutes later.
  • Cerebus Syndrome: Kicks in once Teddy orders Marbles' execution.
  • Changed My Mind, Kid: Chris gets nervous before the final shootout and decides to skip town (trying to convince Marbles to do the same), but in the end he comes back to help, shooting the sheriff's cousin as he gets the drop on Matty and the others.
  • Dirty Cop: Played with. While Sheriff Decker has no qualms about Police Brutality, taking over the stolen (and illegal) money or even planning a murder, Ward, his Deputy, has none of it and is only dragged into the situation by threat of being incriminated anyway.
    Matty: Cops are involved.
    Chris: Dirty fuckin' cops.
    Teddy: Yeah, you said cops.
  • Dumbass Has a Point: Subverted. Marbles points out nobody would be stupid enough to start throwing around the stolen money, especially in a tiny town in a middle of nowhere. He's Instantly Proven Wrong, as the scene cuts to the two stoners doing exactly that, while also goofing in the store.
  • Establishing Character Moment: All four main characters get theirs
    • Matty is introduced as a hard-working kid that nobody wants to hire for a legitimate job due to being son of a well-known mobster, which frustrated him to no end.
    • Chris is a careless playboy that's busy dating two random chicks at his family's restaurant, charging the bill on the house and being reminded that he was supposed to stop doing that.
    • Taylor comes in to a store to collect slot money and when being skimmed out of it, trashes the place and threatens the owner until he's paid, setting him up as a serious, but also overly confrontational.
    • Marbles has hard time counting for how many months he's been off drugs, setting up his unreliable nature and drug issues.
  • Evil Chancellor: Teddy, the mobs Number Two has been Stealing from the Till, goes after the money himself, and reveals that he’s always hated Matty’s dad for making him lose when they play basketball together.
  • Evil Parents Want Good Kids: While his father is a big fish in the East Coast mob, Matty is living perfectly normal life and for the most part tries to be "just a citizen", despite being fully aware of his father's and relatives criminal activities since he was a little boy. It's also implied Benny doesn't want to get Matty involved into any sort of criminal activity as a way of sheltering him from potential prison time and even more likely bullet to the head.
  • Fair-Weather Friend: Both Matty and Taylor end up considering Chris and Marbles this and openly discuss it with disdain when they don't show up for the final meet-up. The truth is a bit more complicated: Marbles just got executed by Teddy's enforcers, and Chris is in the process of changing his mind.
  • Fish out of Water: Four scions of NY mob in a tiny rural town at Montana-North Dakota state border. Not only they have no idea how to handle the situation, they have no clue how to deal with the locals, as they can't throw around the weight of their connections.
  • Flyover Country: Almost literally. Marbles was supposed to fly from NY to Spokane, Washington, and then back, in a simple fetch flight. Things get complicated in rural Montana, where he had a fueling stop.
  • Gilligan Cut: When trying to figure out how to find the thief of the bag full of money, even Marbles figures out it's unlikely for anyone to be stupid enough to suddenly start waving around so much cash. Cut to the two punks that stole it goofing around in a convenience store.
  • Greed: There is over half a million dollars in that bag and it sure is tempting to a whole lot of people in Wibaux, Montana.
  • Guns Akimbo: Taylor goes for two pistols and uses them in the final confrontation. Surprisingly, he actually manages to hit his marks by the sheer volume of fire.
  • Hero Killer: Teddy shoots Chris and also got Marbles shot by his goons.
  • Hidden Depths: For all of his bumbling nature, Johnny Marbles rejects a suggestion to run away from the final shootout and is prepared to show up for it.
  • Honorary Uncle: Matty has a whole lot of mafia "uncles". What makes it hard for him as a kid to deal with a snitch is that he's one of the guys he knew really close.
  • Invulnerable Knuckles: Subverted. After beating the shit out of Gordy, in the very next scene Taylor is sitting on a bed, with his right hand in a bowl with ice and water and it remains visibly bruised for the rest of the movie.
  • Left the Background Music On: The music in the opening turns out to be radio playing in Teddy's car.
  • Mafia Princess: Matty and Chris are male versions. They’ve been trying to make it in legitimate profession (sports agent and restaurateur) but attract too much infamy from their family names (although Chris isn’t above using his to get laid) and are ultimately desperate enough to get drawn into their crime world. By the end of the story, Chris is dead and Matty severs all ties with his father for good.
  • Mêlée à Trois: The final confrontation devolves into Teddy's crew trying to whack Matty and his friends and also kill the cops, the cops fighting off against both sides and Matty and Taylor doing their best to survive through the chaotic gunfight.
  • Mexican Standoff: The final confrontation quickly devolves into this, as the cops hold Matty and Taylor at the gunpoint, Teddy and his goons hold the cops and their gunpoint and Gordy emerges from one of the crates and takes Taylor hostage.
  • The Millstone: Marbles was the one who lost the money in the first place and contributes the least to trying to get it back. It was actually worse in the script, but during filming everyone realised nobody would send Marbles with the money if he was as unreliable as the script made him.
  • Once Done, Never Forgotten: As a pre-teen, Matty refused to kill a snitch that send his dad behind the bars. Teddy brings it up well into his adulthood, as implied sign of weakness.
  • Only Sane Man: Taylor is the most practical and fearless of the four mob kids.
  • A Real Man Is a Killer: Heavily reinforced by Teddy and something that he never let go once a twelve-year old Matty showed scruples over killing a snitch in cold blood. Matty later suggests that Teddy did this on purpose, precisely to lord over him and his "weakness".
    Teddy: Matty, tonight is the night you become a man.
    [He hands over a teenage boy a gun to kill The Stool Pigeon]
  • Sins of Our Fathers: Matty is desperately trying to be a sport manager and have a legit, self-made job. Problem is, his name is instantly related with his well-known mafioso father and he's been thrown out of all possible interviews, as nobody wants to risk getting involved with the mob. And the harder Matty pleads, the more people take him for a two-faced con.
  • Small-Town Tyrant:
    • The small-town Sheriff Decker is very keen on keeping the money for himself.
    • The gun store owner couldn't care less about the gun regulations and then covers for Matty when being prodded about the issue, since he was given a hefty tip.
  • The Snack Is More Interesting: Sheriff Decker is more interested in the egg he was having for a lunch than with Matty or his demands.
  • The Stool Pigeon: Bobby Boulevard was a rat that send Benny Chains into prison. The fact he was close to both Benny and Matty makes it all that more complicated to dispose of him - at least for Matty.
  • Taking the Bullet: Taylor takes three for Matty. Thankfully, it's all just a flesh wound.
  • Thicker Than Water: It's a mafia movie, after all
    • Teddy is Benny's brother-in-law and Matty's uncle and explicitly brings up blood early on to teenage Matty.
    • Chris and Marbles are cousins and its implied this is how rest of the crew knows him.
    • Even Gordy and Sheriff Decker are related and stick out to each other when it comes to it.
  • Those Two Guys: The Sheriff’s son and his skater buddy are goofy constant companions. Also Teddy's enforcers, who probably know each other for longer than any of the main characters is alive.
  • Time Skip: The opening scene takes place in November 1987, while Matty was only 12. Then it cuts to the "present", when he's an adult man.
  • Underestimating Badassery: Gordy, a local tough guy trucker, picks a fight with Taylor, who then proceeds to quite literally mop the floor with him.
  • Unreliable Expositor: Given the reveal in the end, did Bobby Boulevard really snitch on Matty's father, or was it just a nice set-up by Teddy to both get rid of a man loyal to Benny Chains and guilty-trip Matty for life.
  • "Well Done, Son" Guy: The whole premise of the film is that being a Mafia Princess sucks if you are a guy - and doubly so if you want to, but can't prove yourself.
  • You Wouldn't Shoot Me: Knowing that Matty is "soft", Teddy says this verbatim. However, rather than tempting fate, he still secretly reloads his own gun, preparing to defend himself should Matty actually decide to shoot him.