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Film / Ticker

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Ticker is a 2001 action film directed by Albert Pyun.

The film opens with a hostage situation at the house of a United States Senator. A bomb has been planted somewhere within. Frank Glass (Steven Seagal) is in charge of the bomb squad out to defuse it. Alas, once it seems they've succeeded, they turn out to be mistaken, and the bomb explodes anyway.

A year later, in San Francisco, two cops — Ray Nettles (Tom Sizemore) and his partner Art "Fuzzy" Rice (Nas) are driving around talking. Nettles and Fuzzy are narcotics cops. Nettles is a cop on the edge. His wife and son were killed by a bomb. Ever since then, he has lost his enthusiasm for his job, hygiene, and life in general. When the two are dispatched to a crime scene where Irish mad bomber Alex Swann (Dennis Hopper) and his gang are hiding; Fuzzy ends up getting killed and one of the gang, Hot Scientist Claire (Jaime Pressly) is arrested. Swann escapes. He starts planting bombs all over the city, and demands that unless the police release Claire, he will detonate one every hour, killing hundreds of civilians. Nettles and Glass team up to stop him.


This film provides examples of:

  • Anti-Climax: Ends with Nettles and Glass placidly defusing two bombs whilst mumbling to each other in hushed tones, succeeding, and then strolling about in the night by what appears to be some big stadium.
  • Black Dude Dies First: Not counting the flashback at the beginning, which has very little bearing on the rest of the plot, Fuzzy is the first named character to die.
  • Bomb Disposal: The main theme of the film. It gets discussed early on by Nettles and Glass, as the former accuses the bomb disposal squad of being content to sit on their asses and let people get blown up, while the latter points out that finding the bombs is the job of the detectives, and that the disposal squad can't actually do anything until it's found.
  • The Cameo: Ice-T appears briefly as a leader of the terrorist team that's setting up Swan's "masterpiece" bomb.
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  • Catchphrase: Swan likes to quote the AT&T advertising jingle "reach out and touch someone" whenever he's setting one of his devices go boom.
  • Dark and Troubled Past: Nettles' wife and son were killed by a car bomb that was intended for him.
  • Dead Star Walking: The film's U.S. posters and DVD cover imply that Nas is one of the three main cast members, even though Fuzzy dies very early on. DVD covers in other countries feature Dennis Hopper and/or Jaime Pressly instead of Nas, thus averting the trope.
  • Decoy Protagonist: From the opening scene, you might think that the film was about Glass redeeming himself for his prior failure to stop Swann. Instead, Glass turns out to be the secondary protagonist and to apparently not be affected at all by his prior encounter, with Nettles instead being the main character and trying to get over a completely different Dark and Troubled Past.
  • Dies Wide Open: Fuzzy passes away while his eyes are open... and then somehow manages to close them afterwards.
  • Going by the Matchbook: Because Swan's accomplice Dugger left a used matchbook into the warehouse where Fuzzy was shot, Glass and Nettles manage to track him down to a Jazz club he frequents.
  • High-Heel–Face Turn: Claire, the lone female member of Swann's gang, initially appears to realise just how crazy the guy is after being taken in by the police, and indicates that she was only working with him out of a misguided desire for revenge. However, the trope gets subverted when she betrays the police and joins Swann again later in the film.
  • Hijacked by Ganon: Not long after Claire joins up with Swann again, she kills him with a car bomb, then takes over as the main villain.
  • Insistent Terminology: Not only do they refer to all the Time Bombs in the movie as "Tickers" for some reason, at one point someone asks about defusing bombs and they say they instead call it "treating" them. Huh?
  • Jerkass: Artie spends the entire movie acting like a massive dick towards Nettles for no obvious reason, even going so far as to mock the death of his wife and son.
  • Karmic Death:
    • After causing so much death and destruction with his bombs, Swann gets blown up himself, courtesy of a car bomb planted by Claire.
    • Surprisingly enough, averted by Artie, who nearly gets shot dead by Vershbow, but gets saved when Nettles kills Vershbow first. After that, their whole conflict is forgotten about.
  • Running Gag: Swann makes more quips and one-liners about time and clocks than Mr. Freeze makes about ice in Batman & Robin.
  • Stock Footage: The film uses this extensively, seemingly due not having the budget to do any actual explosions despite its bomb-themed plot. This has the result of the exploding buildings often not looking anything like they're supposed to; for instance, the downtown hotel where Swann and his cohorts stay early in the film suddenly changes into a drive-in motel before exploding.
  • What the Hell Is That Accent?: Even though most of Swan's gang are supposed to be former IRA terrorists, Vershbow is the only one who sounds anything like an actual Irish person.


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