This time, the target is Walter Weed (Tom Berenger), a lowly desk jockey at the FBI on the verge of retirement, who is informed by his bewildered superiors that a massive price has been placed on his head, on condition that he is killed at precisely 3:00AM on April 19th, the very day he retires. He is given a team of Federal Agents as bodyguards and taken to an impenetrable underground fortress disguised as a bar, while all manner of ruthless killers converge on his location. Once again, there is a twist at the end that changes the nature of the story.
This film provides examples of:
- Anyone Can Die: The prequel is even worse than the first movie. It introduces several new characters who don't appear or were even mentioned in the original film (except Lester Tremor and Lazlo Soot, obviously). Besides those two, only two characters survive the bloodbath in the film.
- Awesome by Analysis: Finbar immediately susses that Ariella is another assassin, and that most of the people in the bar are feds.
- Batman Gambit: Weed put the hit out on himself. He's actually a terrorist mastermind who used his mid level desk job to plot attacks and murders abroad, and used a number of lethal assassins to do it. The entire film is a ploy to get the assassins killed and fake his death to cover his own tracks.
- Beneath Suspicion: The Leuco investigation had the belief that whoever was the guy had connections within the U.S. Government, but they didn't expected that it would be Weed, who was "mid-level" within the FBI and wasn't high enough to be an immediate possibility, but was still high enough to have access to the needed intelligence and money through cooler talk, standard bureaucracy and some penny pinching. The assassination attempt that the whole film revolves around happens the day before he was to be officially interrogated by the Bureau.
- Big, Screwed-Up Family: The Tremors. Emphasis on "big" since Lester is the only one who is in both films; the other three are his brother, sister and dad.
- Carnival of Killers: Just like the previous film, loads of competing assassins try to converge on the same target to collect the bounty on his head.
- Continuity Nod: Prequel aside, it is mentioned that the elaborate safehouse bunker that Weed is taken to try to keep him safe from the killers used to belong to Primo Sperazza (who used it as a man-cave and occasional brothel).
- Dumb Muscle: Baby Boy Tremor is the biggest of the Tremors and isn't all there.
- The Ending Changes Everything: Once the chaos ends and the smoke is clearing, Baker's boss arrives and asks Baker if he saw Weed die, before going on to explain that the Bureau had been suspecting the involvement of Weed on the "Hal Leuco" conspiracy for some time-and just Baker now is able to understand that Weed is Leuco. This is followed by us seeing that Weed made it out okay and enters a car he had conveniently left around for getting away... The ending becomes even more twisted because somehow after figuring this out, Baker is able to immediately intercept Weed and shoot him dead.
- Expy: Finbar McTeague is essentially Pasquale Acosta from the first film; both are coldly professional torturers with nicknames who are in it for the money, both of whom disguise themselves as FBI Agents.
- Foregone Conclusion: As it's a prequel, Lester Tremor and Lazlo Soot are both guaranteed to survive.
- Glasgow Smile: Again, Lazlo.
- Guns Akimbo/Gun Fu: Attempted by both Ariella and Kaitlyn Tremor on separate moments. Unfortunately for them, Reality Ensues on each occasion and one of the FBI agents manages to draw a bead on them and fatally wound them.
- Hidden Villain: The Big Bad, "Hal Leuco", was really Weed using Obfuscating Disability, a low-level job on the Bureau and a lot of false feelings to paint himself as a "nobody" suffering Disproportionate Retribution.
- Historical Rap Sheet: The film implies that the Corrupt Hick Neo-Nazi Tremor family was the real perpetrator of the March 11, 2004 bomb attacks in Madrid, as part of a world-wide campaign of terror orchestrated by Big Bad "Hal Leuco".
- Kickthe Dog: The Tremors' firing exploding clowns out of a circus cannon.
- Kiss of Death: Ariella Martinez's speciality.
- Master of Disguise: Still Lazlo Soot.
- Meaningful Name: "Hal Leuco", short for Haliaeetus leucocephalus—the American bald eagle. Implied to be Line-of-Sight Name—after all, not only is the bald eagle part of the symbol of the FBI, but Weed's personalized playing cards have the bald eagle printed on the back of them.
- Noble Demon: Martinez might be a killer but seems genuinely affronted by the Pedophile Priest she's killing, as well as willing to ally with fellow assassin Finbar.
- Obfuscating Disability: A wheelchair-bound FBI desk agent who's due to retire is informed that he's become the target of a death contract. He's then quickly moved to a secure location that the agency can use to lure in and dispatch possible assassins. After the deaths of a whole bunch of people it's revealed at the end that the guy in the wheelchair was a dirty cop who masterminded terrorist attacks during his career, and loses the wheelchair to escape on foot.
- Obligatory War Crimes Scene: Faked, when Soot committed a murder disguised as an American soldier to stir up international tensions.
- Offscreen Teleportation: A heroic example. Look on "The Ending Changes Everything" and "Villain: Exit, Stage Left" for an explanation.
- Outlaw Couple: Finbar convinces Ariella to team up once he informs her the bar they are in is crawling with Federal Agents. They both die, but Ariella removes her poisoned lips to let Finbar kiss her, suggesting they had fallen for each other.
- Pre-Mortem One-Liner/Bond One-Liner: Kaitlyn Tremor does both in one scene, going so far as to lampshading the latter trope.Dismissed!
[shoots her sailor lover]
Gonna make this joke about you shooting your load and then me shooting you, but it wasn't as good as "dismissed."
- Shout-Out: Once More, with Clarity! reveal that Weed is "Hal Leuco" and masterminded the events of the film to wipe out all evidence of his terrorism campaign is done very much like the reveal of who "Kaiser Soze" really is in The Usual Suspects. Unlike Verbal Kint, Weed doesn't gets to walk away.
- Shrouded in Myth: Hal Leuco-a terrorist mastermind of world-wrecking proportions, and apparently so deep in the government that it's impossible to root him out. In reality, Wood is a mid-level member of the FBI and somehow this gives him enough "non-importance" on the democracy of the Bureau to be Beneath Suspicion but still is high enough that he can easily move the necessary resources to orchestrate an unstoppable campaign of terror and pay the madmen who carried it out with none the wiser.
- Taking You with Me: Turns out that Weed had some explosives concealed within his wheelchair and he uses them to try to take out the assassins. In reality, being quite able to walk, he just rolls the chair towards the assassins and hopes that the carnage left behind will bee too messy for the coroners to sift through and find out that he isn't there.
- Torture Technician: Finbar McTeague, aka "The Surgeon".
- Villain: Exit, Stage Left: Subverted once again. Right when it looks like Weed/Leuco is about to make a standard, clean getaway at the end of the movie, Baker comes from nowhere and shoots him through the windshield.