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The film opens with ex-SWAT officer turned Los Angeles hostage negotiator Jeff Talley (Willis) attempting to difuse a situation where a man is holding his wife and son hostage due to the wife cheating on him. Alas, he doesn't act quick enough, and the man shoots the two before shooting himself. The son dies in Jeff's arms. This leaves Jeff unable to endure hostage situations anymore, so he moves with his wife and daughter to the (fictional) peaceful suburban hamlet of Bristo Camino in Ventura County and becomes a police chief. One year later, by which time Jeff's marriage is disintegrating, two teenagers, Dennis and his brother Kevin, as well as their mysterious accomplice Marshall "Mars" Krupcheck, take the wealthy Walter Smith and his two children hostage in their mansion after a failed robbery attempt. Jeff participates in the subsequent police standoff initially, but eventually backs out due to his painful memories. Unfortunately, it turns out that Walter has been laundering money for a mysterious criminal syndicate through offshore shell corporations. He was preparing to turn over a batch of important encrypted files (recorded on a DVD) when he was taken hostage. To protect such incriminating evidence from discovery, the syndicate orders one of their representatives who is known only as the Watchman to kidnap Talley's wife and daughter, and force him to return to the scene to call the police off. Jeff is thus torn between the Smith family and his own... what's a cop to do?
- Anti-Villain: Kevin, who is only really following his big brother. Dennis also seems this way in comparison to Mars, but doesn't actually qualify in his own right due to clearly being a Jerkass.
- Bittersweet Ending
- Die Hard on an X: Die Hard in... well, a house. The director called it "an art house version of the Die Hard films."
- Film Noir
- Film of the Book
- I Have You Now, My Pretty: Mars with Jennifer. So very, very creepily. Especially when he has her tied to her bed.
- I Have Your Wife
- Kill It with Fire: Much of the penultimate battle involves Molotov Cocktails, one of which ultimately kills Mars.