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Film / Ricochet

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"I mean, there we were, both of us, at the beginning of our careers. And all of a sudden, one of us took off, lit up the sky like a meteor! And why? Because he met the other."
Earl Talbot Blake

Ricochet is a 1991 thriller film directed by Russell Mulcahy and starring Denzel Washington, John Lithgow, Ice-T, and Kevin Pollak.

Nick Styles (Washington) is a young cop who is studying to become a lawyer so that he can help make his neighborhood better. Earl Talbot Blake (Lithgow) is a hitman who is taking a job to make it into the big leagues. Chance pits these two men against each other, and Styles walks away as a hero and having achieved the career he has sought while Blake is sent to prison with nothing. This leads to Blake becoming obsessed with Styles, and as he climbs the ladder of success, Blake follows every step, plotting his revenge. Years later, Styles has risen to become a star Assistant District Attorney. Blake finally escapes from prison and then starts a campaign to destroy his life.

Examples in this film:

  • And Your Little Dog, Too!: Blake tells a probation officer that, after being released, he'd pay a visit to fuck the man's wife, his daughter, and maybe even his dog.
  • Answers to the Name of God: When Nick sees Blake again.
    Nick: Jesus Christ!
    Blake: Almost.
  • Artistic License – Medicine: After Styles is rescued after being drugged and kidnapped by Blake, he's informed about having gonorrhea due to his blood work. This is wrong on so many levels: first, the only STDs that show up on blood work are syphilis and HIV. Second, these are based on the body's antibody response, so it takes a while to turn positive, not overnight as in this scenario. Thirdly, doctors only run tests that are actually medically needed (or at least the ones they are sure they'll get paid for!). Since they didn't know he'd been raped or had unprotected sex, there would never have been a test for that (only whatever drugs he had).
  • Big Bad: Blake is the main bad guy of the movie.
  • Big "NO!": Blake lets out one when he thinks that Styles has killed himself, which ruins his plans.
  • Bond One-Liner: "You got the point now, don't you, Blake?"
  • Broken Pedestal: Thanks to Blake's Gaslighting and Frame Ups, Styles's friends and family along with the rest of the public who once looked up to him began to quickly lose faith in him, the DA, and his wife Alice in particular. After clearing his name, he becomes a Rebuilt Pedestal at the end.
  • But for Me, It Was Tuesday: A rare heroic example. At first, Styles doesn't remember who Blake is.
  • Call-Back: Blake and Styles arm-wrestling each other.
  • Cassandra Truth: Blake is alive and he did all those things to discredit Nick.
  • Character Overlap: The film appears to take place in the continuity of the Die Hard films, with which it shares a writer and producer. Journalist Gail Wallens, played by Mary Ellen Trainor, reappears from the first Die Hard.
  • Chekhov's Gun: The metal tower.
  • Clear My Name: This becomes Nick's goal after Blake re-enters the picture.
  • Climbing Climax: Styles lures Blake onto the unfinished child center grounds for the climax, where they start climbing the thing while fighting.
  • Crucified Dragon Shot: Kim, Blake's right-hand man, after Blake shoots him.
  • Cruel Mercy: Blake's response to Styles's question "Why don't you just kill me?" is a laugh and "I don't wanna kill you; I wanna kill your life!"
  • Double Standard Rape: Female on Male: Used as a plot point in-universe. Part of Blake's plan involves drugging Nick and videotaping him being forcibly raped by a female prostitute...but when he leaks the tape to the media (with dubbed-over sound), people take it as evidence of an extramarital affair. Even Nick's wife initially refuses to believe that it wasn't consensual simply due to the fact that he got it up.
  • The Dragon: Kim to Blake.
  • Embarrassing Nickname: In-universe. The DA is called "Priscilla the Hun." Nick himself is "PK" (Preacher's Kid), but, in his case, the trope is subverted, as he feels that it's a badge of honor.
  • Evil Redhead: Blake has red hair and is VERY bad news.
  • Faking the Dead: After escaping from prison, Blake fakes his death. Nick stages his own death at the end to draw Blake out.
  • Faux Affably Evil: Earl Talbot Blake never drops his cheery and upbeat tone even as he makes Nick's life a living hell.
  • Filth: After killing Farris, Blake plants child pornography on his belongings to frame both him and Nick.
  • FrameUp: Part of Blake's plan. First, he makes it appear like Styles is a child molester and stole the money raised for a children's center. Then he kills Styles's former partner, throwing the gun to him so his prints are on it.
  • Friendly Rival: Odessa, to Nick.
  • Gaslighting: Blake uses a form of this on Nick with the sex video and the swimming pool.
  • Genre Savvy: Nick knows the police can't be trusted to protect his family, but Odessa and company can.
  • Groin Attack: Blake kicks Chekowski's groin during the fight, which happens when Blake becomes his cellmate.
  • Gunman with Three Names: Blake is always referred by his full name in media.
  • Hero Antagonist: Wiley (the DA's right-hand man), who doesn't seem to like Nick very much to begin with. And Gail Wallens.
  • Hero with Bad Publicity: Styles, courtesy of Blake's Roaring Rampage of Revenge torment.
  • Hidden Weapons: Blake keeps a blade in his shoe.
  • Homage: The prison swordfight homages the last fight in Highlander. Both were directed by Russell Mulcahy.
  • Hood Film: It's one of those 1990s films that is mostly set in the inner-city slums and crime-ridden streets and involves African-American characters.
  • Hostage Situation: During Styles's and Blake's first meeting.
  • If It Bleeds, It Leads: Coverage of Blake's demise, with no censorship of his condition, or Kim's.
  • Impaled with Extreme Prejudice: Blake falls from a tower and is impaled.
  • Improvised Armor: The combatants in the prison swordfight are given armor made of books and duct tape.
  • Intercontinuity Crossover: News anchor Gail Wallens.
  • Intoxication Ensues: Nick becomes a jittery, rambling mess of a man after Blake and Kim inject him with drugs.
  • It Was Here, I Swear!: Blake makes a video of Nick drugged in bed being raped by a prostitute, with audio added to make it sound consensual. The bed is at the bottom of a dry swimming pool. When Nick shows the pool to verify his innocence, he finds it filled up with water again. Making this an inverted trope: "It wasn't here, I swear!"
  • Jack Bauer Interrogation Technique: Styles beats up an Aryan Brotherhood member to get information on Blake picking up passports at his bookstore.
  • Large Ham: Both The Hero and the Big Bad.
  • Malcolm Xerox: Nick is watching a talk show on TV when a man argues with the host about an evil conspiracy that supposedly befell Styles and was meant to bring him down. Nick just chuckles. Funnier yet, considering who Denzel Washington would play about a year later...
  • Media Scrum: A gaggle of reporters is always ready to follow Styles around and hound him about alleged misconduct.
  • Never Suicide:
    • Farris's murder is staged to look like he killed himself, complete with a handwritten suicide note.
    • Styles pretends to kill himself in front of Blake, complete with a laundry list of things he was accused of doing, to lure him into a trap.
  • Non-Indicative Name: Ricochets don't come into play at all. It's not immediately obvious, but the name probably refers to the fact that Styles's actions (taking down Blake) rebounded on him later.
  • Not Helping Your Case: Nick rambles on and on to his wife about what he did or didn't do to keep the prostitute away, comes running out of the house like a madman upon seeing Blake's video, pulls a gun in front of a bunch of kids, assaults a clown, and goes on a stammering tirade after the DA confronted him about the sex tape and the assault on the clown (watch Priscilla's face as Nick talks about "water in the pool"). He's paranoid, stressed out, intoxicated, and should be laying low during the DA's office investigation, but noooo...
  • Obfuscating Insanity: Styles, as a ruse to bring Blake into the open and fight him.
  • Obstructive Bureaucrat: The DA and her right-hand man Wiley are this to Styles once they viewed him as a Broken Pedestal to them after Blake's Gaslighting made the latter appear to be a Hero with Bad Publicity undergoing Sanity Slippage, resulting in Styles's suspension.