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Jack Bauer Interrogation Technique / Live-Action Films

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  • Deconstructed in The Siege, where Devereaux and Kraft calmly discuss the best technique to use to torture an Arabic male suspected to have knowledge of terrorist activities. However, he knows nothing, and later the torture/murder is used by Hubbard to justify arresting Devereaux.
  • Appears in the Brazilian movie Tropa de Elite (aka The Elite Squad, won the Berlin Golden Bear), with Truth in Television techniques since the movie is based on a real Special Forces squad. Besides physical aggression, other interrogation methods include plastic bags on the head (and watering one which passed out after receiving the bag twice), and menacing sodomy with a broomstick.
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  • In the blaxploitation film Three the Hard Way, the heroes capture a mook alive, and torture him, in which he's placed in a bedroom with three gorgeous females, who, behind the closed door, do some sort of rape or something to him, over quite a period of time, and various screams, so much so that one of the other heroes gets nervous. He wants to find out what's going on, and his friend suggests otherwise, "Brother, if you go in there, they're liable to pull your assets in with him, too." "Yeah, maybe I better wait."
  • Probably the godfather of the Jack Bauer interrogation technique is none other than "Dirty" Harry Callahan. When Scorpio, a murderous psycho who likes to snipe people off, kidnaps a teenage girl and leaves her in a spot where she'll suffocate in a few hours, he makes Harry run all the way across the city as fast as he can in order to get the information on her whereabouts, but when Harry is finished, the killer says that he's changed his mind and is just going to let her die before trying to kill Harry. Needless to say, Harry is furious, and when he finally tracks Scorpio down on a football field, Harry gets brutal in making him give up the location of the girl. Harry's brutal methods get results, but when the girl is finally found, it's already too late for her. Harry promptly gets a dressing-down for "police torture" among other violations of due process by Da Chief, and Scorpio gets Off on a Technicality anyway because of those violations.
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  • Subverted in The Untouchables (1987). After leading a raid on Al Capone's gang on the Canadian border, Eliot Ness has captured one of the gang's coders and is interrogating him in a nearby cabin. The man refuses to talk, so Ness's second-in-command Jim Malone walks outside and pulls another member of the gang to his feet against the window. Exclaiming he's fed up with the easy way, Malone sticks his gun in the man's mouth, and demands information by counting down from three. When met with no response, he blows the gangster's brains out into the room. This scares the captured man enough to spill everything. Unbeknownst to said coder, the other gangster was already a corpse (he was shot by Ness in the earlier firefight).
  • Played straight in Public Enemies, where the Bureau Of Investigation's tactics to locating John Dillinger involve torturing men dying in hospitals from gunshot wounds (by agitating the wound) and beating up defenseless women. In the former case, it's played straight because it works. The second case subverts it because the subject being beaten gives false information.
    • Truth in Television: BOI agents were known to beat prisoners during the later days of the manhunts for Dillinger, the Barker-Karpis gang, Pretty Boy Floyd and the Kansas City Massacre conspirators, etc. Dick Galatas, a conspirator of the Massacre, complained about this in a motion filed by his lawyer. In fact, after Dock Barker was caught, one agent bragged of breaking a telephone book over his head.
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  • In Brute Force, Captain Munsey, a guard from the penitentiary, wants to get extra information out of Louie before Joe and the gang try to escape, so he puts on loud classical music and proceeds to beat Louie with a drainpipe.
  • Referenced in Reservoir Dogs where Mr. White, Mr. Pink and Mr. Blonde try to torture a cop to find out if he knows anything about the setup of their disastrous heist. When Nice Guy Eddie finds out, he criticizes their thinking saying "If you fucking beat this prick long enough, he'll tell you he started the goddamn Chicago fire, now that don't necessarily make it fucking so!" When everyone but Blonde leaves, he proceeds to torture the cop anyway, admitting that he neither cares nor expects to get any information out of him, but simply because he likes to torture cops.
    • Also notable in that, despite the particularly brutal beating the cop suffers, he tells them nothing, even though he knows exactly who the mole is.
  • Mick does this to quite a few people in Crocodile Dundee 2 (including a cop who's following him) after Sue is kidnapped by a mobster. The most extreme case is when, after subduing a thug sent to kill him, he dangles him out the window of a high-rise and threatens to cut the rope with his knife until he talks, which the guy eventually does. (Possibly a subversion, because at that point, he may have been angry enough to actually kill the guy.)
  • In Taken, with Liam Neeson, the main character has 96 hours to find his kidnapped daughter before she becomes drug addicted and sold into prostitution. He finds a man who knows information, and the scene proceeds quickly with the trafficker waking up as the hero knocks two nails together and tells him to wake up and focus. He then rams the nails into the trafficker's thighs, attaches crocodile clips to the nails, wired to the mains electricity through a light switch, and proceeds. He at one point mentions torturing people in backwater countries where the electricity was unreliable, but in Paris "I can leave it on until it gets shut off for not paying the bill." Once the trafficker's told the hero everything he knows, the response is a cool "I believe you...but it's not going to save you," and turns the light switch on one last time. Then walks out leaving it on and, as revealed in the sequel, the trafficker dies from the current causing his heart to explode.
    • At the secret slave auction, Bryan escapes from the slave leader’s men and kills them all. An angry Bryan repeatedly shoots the leader non-fatally to force him to spill the whereabouts of his daughter. Once he got what he needed, he empties the gun into the leader, killing him.
  • James Bond does this in The Spy Who Loved Me, with a mook hanging by his necktie from a great height. Once Bond has the information, he lets the mook fall.
  • Occurs in Dead Poets Society. Headmaster Nolan paddles Charlie to get information about the student's poetry group.
  • Used in Lethal Weapon 3 where our heroes convince one of the gang leaders to tell them where they've been getting weapons from by threatening to have Lorna run him over with a car. He gives up the name, she puts the pedal to the metal... and it's revealed that the car was put in reverse.
  • Marv from Sin City, when he needs to find something out, he just goes out and finds somebody that knows more than him and he asks them. Sometimes he asks pretty hard.
    Marv: I don't know about you, but I'm having a ball. (Said as he is driving a car while dragging a guy's face on the pavement.)
    • Also employed later by Dwight who stabbed his victim with a machete even before he asked any questions.
    Dwight: I let him know I'm not fooling around.
  • John Creasy from Man on Fire, to gain information and destroy everyone responsible for Lupita's kidnapping. His technique including: cutting someone's finger off, blasting someone's kneecaps off with a shotgun, and shoving a thimbleful of C4 explosive into somebody's ass and chaining them to a car. When this guy goes Papa Wolf, let's just say you do not want to be among those responsible for messing with the kid.
  • In The Machine Girl, when interrogating a yakuza for information on the gang's new hideout the decide to both smash his face with a hammer and drive nails into his face.
  • In Who Framed Roger Rabbit, Eddie Valiant threatens R.K. Maroon into telling him what he knows about Cloverleaf's plot to get Toontown by sticking Maroon's tie in a film-editing machine. (Of course, Eddie had a good reason to be angry; Maroon had used him as an Unwitting Pawn in the scheme.)
    Eddie: I'm going to listen to you spin the Cloverleaf scenario. The story of greed, sex and murder. And the parts that I don't like, I'm going to edit all out.
  • Lawful Neutral Scott in Spartan breaks a man's arm in an alleyway. When the guy still won't talk Scott orders his somewhat alarmed apprentice to "take his eye out" and then "you bet your life" when he hesitates.
  • In the 1987 movie of Dragnet:
    Streebeck: It's just you... and me... and your balls... and this drawer. SLAM!
  • In Guarding Tess, Nicolas Cage's character, who is a Secret Service Agent, threatens and then shoots the toe off of a suspect to get the information he desires.
  • "H", the "hero" of the film Unthinkable, is an ex-Army interrogator who uses extreme methods to get a terrorist to talk, which go up to and include cutting off the man's fingers, electrocuting him, and killing his family in front of his face. His methods end up being viewed as crossing the Moral Event Horizon for the counterterrorism unit assisting him, causing them to run interference.
  • Subverted in The Punisher (2004). To get information from a mook, the titular hero fakes taking a blowtorch to the mook's back, using a popsicle and a slab of steak, along with a monologue describing the effects of a blowtorch on human skin.
  • The cops in The Untold Story brutalize the owner of a restaurant because they suspect that he killed the original owners and possibly a few of his employees.
  • Subverted in Serpico. When Frank Serpico discovers a brutal gang rape, he only manages to capture one of the perps. The perp is then beaten to a pulp by his commanding officer with no results. Later on Serpico's humane methods (taking the perp for a burger and soda) manage to get him to give the rest of the gang up.
  • X-Men Film Series
    • In X-Men: First Class, Erik interrogates a bank President by using his magnetic powers to pull out the older man's dental fillings. Later, he cracks Emma Frost's diamond body in such a way that a gentle tap would shatter her if she turned back before having time to heal.
    • In The Wolverine, Logan does this to Noburo. ("Talk or I'll throw you out that fucking window!").
    • Parodied in Deadpool (2016). Wade interrogates an injured mook dragging himself across an ice rink by attempting to run him over with a Zamboni... but is half the length of the rink away.
    • Subverted in Deadpool 2 when Cable kidnaps Weasel and starts explaining how he's going to hurt him. Weasel calmly tells him he'll tell him everything he knows before Cable can finish, and even adds some helpful advice. After that, he runs back to Deadpool and says he just revealed everything, so that Deadpool will have a good idea of what Cable will be doing (and so they can kick Cale's ass without Weasel risking getting hurt).
  • In Wanted: Dead Or Alive, bounty hunter Nick Randall comes up with a technique that works more on the principle of abject terror than pain: tossing the terrorist's Mook into a free-standing locker and locking him inside, he demands to know where the Big Bad Malak Al Rahim is. Every time the mook refuses to talk, Nick taps the locker twice with the tip of the barrel of his rifle, and then fires. Faced with the terror of trying to dodge the bullets in the blind, his subject quickly cracks. The film somewhat justifies his being able to use this technique by establishing earlier that as a freelance bounty hunter, Nick is not quite as constrained by some of the laws binding the police and government agents also pursuing the terrorist. Of course, he probably could still have been prosecuted for this if anyone actually cared about his victim.
  • Parodied in Dude, Where's My Car?. The two main stoner characters are interrogated by the cops for a crime they didn't commit, but they don't remember anything from the night before. Thinking they're holding out on them, the cops then bring in a dummy, which they "torture" with beatings, pouring hot coffee in its face, and cigarette burns.
    Chester: Leave him alone! He doesn't know anything!
    • This only works on Chester, though. Jesse just looks confused at the whole thing.
  • Deconstructed in The Dark Knight:.
    • Batman firsts starts to find his methods are no longer working when interrogating Sal Maroni. Hoisted over a balcony, Maroni remains fearless because the fall would be too short to kill him. Bats then drops him to a broken leg, but Maroni still refuses to tell where the Joker is, explaining that the mob is more afraid of the clown because the Batman has a noticeable code but the Joker has no rules.
    • Harvey Dent, having captured a henchman of the Joker, starts trying to scare information out of him by flipping a coin and threatening death if it lands tails. Even though it was a double-headed coin, Batman rebukes Harvey for toying with the man's life, especially since he turns out to just be a former Arkham Asylum patient who knows nothing about where the Joker is.
    • Batman tries to force the Joker to reveal the locations of Harvey Dent and Rachel by punching him repeatedly and smashing his head onto a glass window. The Joker simply laughs his ass off in response. He then voluntarily relents and gives Batman the information anyway but he switches their locations, thus intentionally providing misinformation.
  • In the Live-Action Adaptation of Dudley Do-Right, Dudley ties one of Snidley's minions to a log on a saw mill to get information. Since this is a family movie, the saw was made of paper mache.
  • Standard tactics for the eponymous squad in Gangster Squad. For example, harris extorts information out of a drug dealer by pinning him against a wall and squeezing the knife wound he had inflicted on him earlier in the movie.
  • In a villainous example, Angel Eyes (through a Union soldier sergeant) inflicts this on Tuco to get him to reveal his half of the info on where the gold is in The Good, the Bad and the Ugly after he and Blondie are captured and taken to a prison camp.
  • Halo: Nightfall: After a Covenant terrorist detonates a radiological weapon on Sedra, Sedran Colonial Guard Colonel Randall Aiken tries to beat usable information out of the alien smuggler who sold the weapon to them. (It's worth noting here that Aiken's daughter died in the attack, but we don't find this out until later.) He fails miserably, and Jameson Locke rather quickly gets the prisoner to talk by playing the good cop to Aiken's bad cop.
  • Female Agents: The standard m.o. of the Nazis in questioning prisoners.
  • Criminal: Bill gets tortured with a cattle prod by Xavier, then killed after he refused to give up The Dutchman.
  • In Den of Thieves, O'Brien and his cops grab Donnie after the robbery at the Fed, then handcuff him to inside of their truck and beat him till he tells them the location where Merriman and the rest of the crew are meeting up.
  • Jeebs in Men in Black is often subjected into this, in the form of Boom, Headshot!. Good thing he's got a potent healing factor that it's hardly lethal, but it hurts.
    Jeebs: You insensitive pricks! Do you have any idea how much that stings?!
    K: Show us the merchandise or you're gonna lose another head, Jeebs.
  • Parodied in Ace Ventura: When Nature Calls, where Ace interrogates a man by... scraping silverware on a porcelain plate, then poking his own eye to gross the man out.
  • Carrie and Pryce assault Haden and then threaten to cut his fingers off while attempting to extract the location of the canisters in Whiteout.
  • 13 Minutes: When Elser refuses to give his name or date of birth, let alone any other information, he's flogged and has his nails pulled out. It's only the threat to his former fiancee that gets him talking though.
  • Captive State: The police use torture on captured Resistance members to get information.
  • Night Train to Lisbon: Joao was tortured by having his hands broken to get information from him the secret police were seeking. He didn't break though.
  • Destroyer: After trying to play nice with Amoral Attorney Dennis DiFalco, Erin loses he patience and starts beating him about the face with her pistol till he coughs up the info she wants.
  • No God, No Master: Raverini beats up Andrea Salsedo when he claims not to know who the bomb packages are for. He cracks after Flynn sets one of the bombs to explode and they leave him with it.
  • You'd be forgiven for not expecting a Pokémon movie to show up here (even in Parody form), but in Pokémon Detective Pikachu the titular Pikachu and Tim are interrogating a Mr. Mime for information about the source of the R Gas that's causing Pokemon to go berserk. Mr. Mime clearly knows the answer but isn't being very cooperative and mimes walling himself off from his interrogators. Tim gets creative and starts to speak Mr. Mime's language (so to speak) himself by miming opening a secret door to Mr. Mime's little room, then picking up a canister of something and pouring it all over Mr. Mime and the rest of the room before lighting a match, implying that it was gasoline. After a couple of false starts where Mr. Mime quickly extinguishes the matches Tim mime-lights, Tim pours out a trail of gasoline out from the door and threatens to light it from outside — Mr. Mime relents and spills the beans soon after. Then when Tim and Pikachu celebrate getting the answer Tim accidentally opens his hands and "drops" the match.
  • Ricochet: Styles beats up an Aryan Brotherhood member to get information on Blake picking up passports at his bookstore.
  • In Headless Horseman, Lizzie extracts the information the group needs from Kolchak by hitting him in the knee with hammer till he tells them what they want to know.
  • This is Christini's preferred method of extracting information from people in Dobermann, be they criminals or civilians. Strays dangerously close to Cold-Blooded Torture at times.
  • In Judas Kiss, Detective Friedman uses a golf club (and some Bullet Dancing) to force some answers out of Dirty Cop Matty Grimes. Somewhat justified in that: a) Grimes is not officially a suspect or in custody; b) Friedman does not intend using any information her gets out of Grimes in court; and c) Friedman really dislikes Grimes (who is married to his ex-wife).
  • Gone (2012): Once she's overpowered him, Jill gets her abductor to fess up about what he did with her sister by shooting him non-lethally twice, then promising she won't any more if he tells her.
  • Death Wish: Kersey uses some of his medical knowledge against Joe, one criminal among those who had harmed his family, to get information on the rest.
  • The Evil That Men Do: Molloch teaches the use of torturing people for information. In fact, the film opens on him demonstrating it to some military men.
  • In Blonde Savage, Berger attempts to beat the location of the native village out of Blake. Blake does not divulge a thing.
  • In Death Ring, Skylord beats up the tattoo artist until he gives him the name of the man with the double triangle tattoo. However, it does not avail him much as all the artist has is the man's surname—Chavez—which is extremely common in a Texas border town.
  • Exam, Brown tortures Dark with a piece of paper. It is debatable who is the hero in this scenario.
  • Stripped to Kill: When Heineman catches the mobile entrepreneur trying to get back into his car, he slams his foot into the car door: pinning the entrepreneur between the door and the car. He questions him by repeatedly pressing on the door until the entrepreneur tells him what he want to know.


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