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In a town with no justice, there is only one law: Every man for himself.
A 1996 action film, a cross between a Western and a hard-bitten Film Noir tale (remaking the classic A Fistful of Dollars), taking place in a dusty ghost town during Prohibition and effectively straddling the transitional period between the two. "John Smith" (Bruce Willis) is a wandering gun-for-hire with few morals and a lot of ammo for his pair of .45s. The town, despite being a tiny speck in the middle of nowhere, is home to two fairly large gangs, as the town makes a convenient place to smuggle alcohol in from across the border.
John immediately makes an impression on Irish gang leader Doyle (David Patrick Kelly) and his Dragon Hickey (Christopher Walker) by blasting the hell out of his best man Finn (Patrick Kilpatrick), and he is soon deeply caught up in the bitter and heated gang war. His presence does nothing to prevent tensions from getting out of hand. He befriends the town's barkeep Joe Monday (William Sanderson) and forms a sort of working relationship with the already corrupt Sheriff Ed Galt (Bruce Dern), determined to milk the situation for all it's worth, but in the process finds himself helping out the girlfriends of the two gang leaders. Eventually he's informed by Texas Ranger Captain Tom Pickett (Ken Jenkins) that the law will abide one gang in town, but not two, and when he returns in a few days' time there had better be one gang or no gangs, but definitely no John Smith.
Things go downhill from there.
- Achilles Heel: John can't stand to leave a woman hurting. The sheriff even lampshades this tendency when he sees it in action.
"You know something, amigo? I think I just spotted the chink in your armor. When you go down...it's gonna be over a skirt."
- Anti-Villain Villain Protagonist: John is heavily implied to be a mob hitman fleeing a bad situation elsewhere in the states. He murders, steals, lies, and manipulates his way through the entire movie. But he has a soft spot for women and puts himself through pain and near-death to help them, and everyone he kills is corrupt at best and a Complete Monster at worst.
- Blown Across the Room: Fate of many a mook.
- Book Ends: The movie starts an ends with visually similar scenes and a character in the same situation: John, driving to Mexico without any money to his name.
- The Dragon: Hickey to Doyle. No one thinks much of Doyle, but they're terrified of Hickey. (Considering he's played by Christopher Walken, this is just good sense.)
- The Dreaded: Hickey in spades.
- Ear Ache: Strozzi had Lucy's ear cut off when she revealed her affair with Smith to him. It's implied this is when John decides to Kill'Em All.
- Full-Frontal Assault: Smith's retaliation during an ambush against him when he is in bed.
- Giant Mook: Among Doyle's gang.
- Guns Akimbo: John Smith's style of gunplay.
- In the Back: Hickey prefers to feign surrender by turning his back his enemies and asking them if they would shoot an unarmed man in the back. Then he draws a pistol and kills them.
- Mob War: A central driver of the plot, and like most Mob Wars this one is intensely destructive.
- No-Holds-Barred Beatdown: Wouldn't be a Yojimbo-pastiche without it!
- Playing Both Sides: Smith is unlikely to make the cover of Loyalty Monthly, except as a warning.
- Quick Draw: John Smith makes an impression this way. John's rapid gunplay remains important throughout the film.
- Refuge in Audacity: If John Smith walked into a room and shot a dozen largely unaware mooks, and they died in anything vaguely like realistic fashion, he'd look like a Complete Monster. Since they fly across the room, crash out windows, and go rolling across the street, he just looks like a Badass.
- The Roaring Twenties: The broader setting.
- Rule of Cool: This movie walks up to physics and shoots it in the chest, causing it to lift off its feet as it goes flying backwards, crashes through a window, and rolls all away across the street to die in the dirt.
- The Sheriff: Corrupt Sheriff Ed Galt.
- Shrouded in Myth: Hickey.
- Wretched Hive: Jericho, the setting, is without effective law and order -- but well up on violent criminal enterprise. There is, in fact, nothing left in town but the gangs, the sheriff, a bartender, and the undertaker... and by the end of the movie, the undertaker's leaving.