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Film / The Presidio

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Sean Connery is not going to shoot you, but Mark Harmon is thinking about it.

A 1988 crime drama directed by Peter Hyams, starring Sean Connery and Mark Harmon.

A Miltary Policewoman is shot and killed responding to a break in at the Officer's Club at The Presidio of San Francisco, and two SFPD cops are killed when the ensuing Hot Pursuit goes off post and into the city proper. When Inspector Austin (Harmon), the police detective assigned to the case, turns out to have a history with Lt. Col. Caldwell (Connery), the base's Provost Marshal, the working relationship between the two men is less than cooperative. And when Austin and Caldwell's daughter Donna (Meg Ryan) take a liking to each other, it doesn't make things any easier...


This film contains examples of the following tropes:

  • A-Team Firing: In the film's climax, which was a large gunfight with everybody moving around taking cover, and most notably justified by the two bad guys with submachine guns Pretty much the only people involved in the plot who weren't in the military, and thus the ones least likely to be able to use such a weapon properly.
  • Buddy Cops: Neither of them really like each other, though.
  • Bottomless Magazines: Averted in that several characters have to stop to reload, particularly a bad guy with a submachine gun (which he ends up stopping to reload after just about every time he unloads it at one of the heroes without hitting anything. Played ridiculously straight by a bad guy who is able to lay down an unrelenting stream of suppressive fire with a pump action shotgun.
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  • Bullying a Dragon: A thug in a bar decides to give Lt. Col Caldwell a hard time while he's trying to have a cup of coffee. For his part, Caldwell tried to ignore him, until the guy put his cigar out in Caldwell's cup of coffee, leading to Cherry Tapping, below.
  • Chase Scene: Several, including a Hot Pursuit in the beginning of the film, a foot chase later on, and even a car chase as foreplay.
  • Chekhov's Gun: The over-watered plant at the O Club, as well as a Colt M1911 handgun.
  • Cherry Tapping: Caldwell tells the thug that he will teach him a lesson by beating the crap out of him using only his thumb. His right thumb. His left thumb would be far too powerful for him. He does in fact use both thumbs, and a foot at one point, but the other guy was twice his size.
  • Completely Missing the Point
    Caldwell: I never liked Lawrence!
    Austin: Then why did you throw me out of the MP's? (for striking Lawrence)
    Caldwell: Because you broke the law! (shakes his head in disbelief) You still don't get that, do you?
  • Cutting the Knot: Caldwell kicks down a door that Austin is trying to lockpick.
  • Diner Brawl: Between Caldwell and the thug. The thug's buddies run to help, but Austin pulls his gun, asking the men to "keep it fair."
  • Fake Nationality: Averted. Colonel Caldwell was born in Scottland, and moved to America with his father when he was ten. Seeing the Statue of Liberty for the first time inspired him to join the Army to protect his new homeland.
  • Floating Head Syndrome: As seen in the image above. They included more than the main actors' heads, but it is effectively Sean Connery, Marc Harmon, and the Golden Gate Bridge cut-and-pasted over a black background.
  • The General's Daughter: Austin ends up in a relationship with Donna, Caldwell's daughter, much to the Colonel's chagrin. Something of a reversal of the trope as the relationship only happens after Caldwell had Austin courtmartialled, demoted, and sent out of the Army.
  • Groin Attack: Austin knees another one of Donna's potential suitors in the nuts at a dinner party at the O Club.
  • Heroic BSoD: Caldwell has one when he nearly strikes his daughter in anger during a heated argument.
  • Hidden in Plain Sight: The reason why the bottles of water are important? The bad guys are smuggling jewels in them, since diamonds turn invisible when immersed in water, due to both materials having the same refraction index.
  • I Just Shot Marvin in the Face: Pretty much everybody is practicing horrible trigger discipline in the final act, particularly troubling since almost everybody involved happen to be military veterans.
  • Immigrant Patriotism: Caldwell moved to America with his father when he was a child. He fell in love with the United States when he saw the Statue of Liberty, and decided to join the Army in order to protect his new homeland.
  • Insistent Terminology: The thug at the bar makes a point of repeatedly addressing Lt. Col. Caldwell as a Major, making it pretty obvious that he knows how to read the rank insignia on his uniform, he just wants to get a rise out of him. After beating some sense into the man, Caldwell instructs him on the difference between the two rank insignias, so that he can avoid pissing off another officer of the Army.note 
  • It's Personal: The Military Policewoman who was shot and killed was Austin's partner when he was in the Army. In fact, the beef he and Caldwell have with each other was because of an incident where a colonel was pulled over for drunk driving and insulted Austin's partner. Things escalated quickly and Austin laid the colonel out. The colonel was let go without charges, and Austin was court martialled for assaulting an officer.
    • Also between Austin and Colonel Lawrence.
  • Jurisdiction Friction: The case involves the deaths of an investigating MP and a pair of pursuing SFPD officers, and thus the investigation features the installation Provost Marshall and a SFPD detective partnering up rather than investigating the case separately. Their desire to solve the case is pretty much the only thing they happen to agree on, naturally.
  • Mineral MacGuffin: The heroes don't figure it out until the climax, but the bad guys are smuggling diamonds from Asia on Air Force transports, in bottles of water.
  • Noodle Incident: Whatever McClure did that gave the bad guys blackmail material to bring him in on the plot.
  • Offscreen Teleportation: A heroic example, justified in that it takes place in a bottling plant with steam everywhere due to the ongoing gunfight.
  • Put Down Your Gun and Step Away: Averted. Also Austin's Establishing Character Moment.
  • Pre-Mortem One-Liner: Austin gets one after his Offscreen Teleportation.
  • Redemption Equals Death: McClure decides to make it all right.
  • Retired Badass: Sergeant Major (Retired) Ross McClure, who was so badass during The Vietnam War that he managed to save Caldwell's life. Mind you, Caldwell is played by Sean Connery.
  • Soft Glass: One of the suspects runs through a restaurant window, followed by Inspector Austin.
  • Strange Minds Think Alike: During the crime scene investigation at the Officer's Club, both Austin and Caldwell ask the Officer In Charge at the club when the last time a particular plant was watered, given that it had obviously been watered way too much. This becomes very central to the plot later when it was revealed that a jug of water was dumped in the plant in order to find the diamonds hidden inside the jug.


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