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Film / Wedlock

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Wedlock (which, confusingly enough, was once released as Deadlock) is a 1991 HBO Science Fiction film directed by Lewis Teague, starring Rutger Hauer, Mimi Rogers, and Joan Chen.

Frank Warren (Hauer) is a whiz with electronics. He teams up with his fiancee Noelle (Chen), who's something of a Manic Pixie Dream Girl, and a buddy of his, Sam (James Remar), in order to rob a vault of jewels.

Unfortunately, they get busted, and in the process of getting away from the cops, Frank ends up (rather involuntarily) taking the fall so Sam and Noelle can escape jail time. Frank goes to a new kind of prison: all prisoners wear special necklaces, keyed to explode if they ever get more than 100 yards from each other. Only, it so happens the system can be subverted. Enter an annoying fellow prisoner, Tracy Riggs (Rogers), and a rather nasty badass prisoner, "Emerald" (Basil Wallace), who effectively runs things.

Hilarity ensues.

This film provides examples of:

  • Explosive Leash: The titular "wedlock" (or "deadlock").
  • Face–Heel Turn: Noelle, who is apparently ready to drop anyone the moment they become inconvenient.
  • Good Cop/Bad Cop: Teal and Emerald, respectively. One brings Frank some food while he's consigned to the "floaters" (sensory deprivation tank in an isolation cell) in an effort to get him to talk, and the other takes this opportunity to urinate on him.
  • Heel–Face Turn: Tracy, who wasn't entirely on board with betraying Frank from the start and really gets to liking him.
  • Hoist by His Own Petard: The warden gets blown up by the same explosive he used to keep the prisoners in jail. Keep in mind he was trying to play a Long Game by waiting Frank out until he confessed to where the jewels had been stashed, so Frank had a reason to set him up in this way.
  • Laser-Guided Karma: In regard to the previous trope, Noelle gets blown up by the other "wedlock" explosive, as the warden's own system keys both explosives to go off if the sensor for one of them goes off.
  • Maybe Ever After: The "happy" couple have been engaged in a lot of Belligerent Sexual Tension and Teeth-Clenched Teamwork, but what else do they have to do with their lives, and with whom else would they do it?
  • Prison Rape: The warden rather unsubtly reminds Frank of where he could have ended up.
  • The Mole: Teal. Depending on how you look at it, maybe Tracy as well.
  • Too Good to Be True: Frank initially isn't buying Tracy's claim that she's discovered she's "wedlocked" to him (until she actually proves it) and spurns her sexual advances. He also doesn't trust any friendly overtures from the other prisoners, and keeps his secrets from Tracy for a long time even after they make their break. As she points out later on, he doesn't trust anyone, and is really rather justified in not taking anyone's "help" at face value.
  • Tricked into Escaping: The central "escape" is actually planned by the warden, since one of the escapees will lead him to a stash of loot.
  • 20 Minutes into the Future: For all that the movie is set in some unspecified future time, the relatively low budget means that the movie unavoidably has quite the '80s feel to it.
  • Wire Dilemma: Frank has to disarm his own necklace explosive with a hand mirror and talking his wedlock "partner", Tracy, through the disarming steps.
  • You Have Outlived Your Usefulness: Sam gets this from Noelle.