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Film / Poker Night

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Poker Night is a 2014 thriller film starring Beau Mirchoff, Ron Perlman, Giancarlo Esposito, Michael Eklund, Titus Welliver, Ron Eldard, and Halston Sage. Stan Jeter (Mirchoff) is the new rookie detective in Warsaw, IN, promoted on the basis of a hot case where he found and killed a serial killer. The department has gathered a crew of veteran officers (Perlman, Esposito, Welliver, and Eldard) to train up and coming detectives, and they invite Jeter in for their poker game where they share a story of their hard-earned wisdom with Jeter for every hand they win. Shortly on the heels of the poker game, Jeter investigates a domestic abuse case and finds himself the captive of an insane killer who has a personal vendetta against him. There's also a familiar face from his past, Amy (Sage). Now, he needs to figure out why he's been targeted, rescue Amy, and survive the night, using the wisdom and hindsight gained from his poker night.

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This film exhibits the following tropes

  • Chekhov's Classroom: During the poker game, performed as flashbacks during the escape, the detectives teach Jeter to always follow his heart but rely on his brain, to never give up, to seize the moment when it comes, to identify with the perp, to let the perp walk you through their motivations, and, if all else fails, to ask for a kiss. Everything but asking for the kiss comes in handy.
  • Cuffs Off, Rub Wrists: Played completely straight by multiple characters, both the rubbing of the wrists and the lack of aftereffects.
  • Disguised Hostage Gambit: Twice. First, Maxwell, then some random schlub in the epilogue.
  • Downer Ending: Two of the senior officers are dead. Amy's in a coma. Jeter's shot by the police and sent off to jail for being the killer.
    • Then, it's zig-zagged by Amy waking up, Jeter being released, and him tracking down and shooting the killer. Only to realize it's yet another guy who was framed.
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  • The Jail Bait Wait: Seemingly the case for Jeter and Amy. They do a lot of kissing, but it never seems to go past that and he tells her that they have to wait.
  • The Magic Poker Equation: Near the end of the film, the final poker hand has Jeter beat a full house with four twos. However, given he's still chained up in the scene and he notes that two of the players are dead, this is probably symbolic.
  • Malevolent Masked Men: The killer wears a mask that looks like a mole's face with its mouth visibly stitched shut. Two of his compatriots, seen in flashback, sport clown makeup and an Easter Bunny costume.
  • Mentor Occupational Hazard:
    • Two of the senior officers die by the end of the film.
    • The anonymous killer's mentor was the man Jeter killed before the events of the film to gain the promotion to detective.
  • Papa Wolf: It's shown early on that Amy has a protective father who Jeter tries to avoid at all costs. It's Maxwell, one of the senior detectives, and his awareness of Jeter and Amy is part of the reason he opposes Jeter's promotion.
  • Pretty Little Headshots: Calabrese has a relatively tidy one, although still enough to spray blood all over Jeter's face.
  • Villainous Friendship: The killer had one with his mentor, Terrence Alby, as seen in flashbacks. He was devastated when his mentor was killed and vowed to avenge him.

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