Andrew Wyke, a mystery writer, realizes his wife is having an affair with hair salon owner Milo Tindle. He finds in Milo the opportunity to divorce his wife, but he needs to avoid having to pay alimony. So, he challenges the younger man to rob his house; Milo can get rich off his loot, while the insurance company will handsomely reimburse Andrew. Milo complies; but just as he pulls it off, things get really complicated.
This features examples of:
- Anti-Hero: Milo in the 1972 film is only in it to punish Andrew for the pain he caused him. In the 2007 film Milo is revealed to be a sociopath on Andrew's level.
- The Chessmaster: Both Milo and Andrew.
- Disney Death: Milo. He's not so lucky the second time.
- Evil Plan / Kansas City Shuffle: The scheme in the opening paragraph was just a precursor to Andrew's real scheme: to humiliate Milo, by means of shooting him with blanks, because he, a middle-class hairdresser, dared to mingle with the upper class. Its the former because it starts and drives the plot. Its the second because the one being schemed thought they knew where to look and what was going on but the real scheme is coming from another direction. From there it gets a lot more complicated.
- Famous Last Words: See the page quote.
- Only in the film. In the play, the line is "Game, set, match," and doubles as an Ironic Echo.
- Foe Yay: The homosexual undertones present in the original are made much more explicit by the remake:
Black: You gave him... a pat... on the bum?
Black: You gave him a metaphorical pat on the bum?
- Gold Digger: Margueritte.
- He Who Fights Monsters: Milo in the 1972 film. As stated previously, he is recharacterized to be one of the fellow "monsters" in the 2007 adaption.
- Minimalist Cast: It has only six characters. And only two actors.
- Mobile Maze: Andrew's got one.
- Mood Whiplash: The initial burglary plot is quite silly, as Milo disguises as a clown and makes a mess of the robbery attempt, but after the first or second plot twist it becomes extremely dark.
- Mythology Gag: Michael Caine, who played Milo to Laurence Olivier's Andrew in the 1972 film, starred as Andrew to Jude Law's Milo in the 2007 version.
- Ooh, Me Accent's Slipping: An In-Character example. Michael Caine struggles a bit with Milo's Inspector Doppler accent.
- Psychopathic Manchild: Andrew in the 1972 film. The creep factor is dialed up with long shots of his moving, dancing, watching-you toys.
- Rich Suitor, Poor Suitor: Sort of. Andrew sees it this way.
- Shout-Out: Andrew, a popular detective writer, has a sign that reads "221 B Baker Street" in his basement.
- Shut UP, Hannibal: Andrew lectures Milo about the upper class being smarter and better, and believes his amateur sleuthing is superior to real-life detective work. Milo and Inspector Doppler basically the same person go out of the way to prove Andrew so very wrong about both.
- Spoiler Opening: Subverted; despite what the credits may tell you, Laurence Olivier and Michael Caine are the only stars of the film.
- Unfortunately, played straight in the remake.
- Thanatos Gambit: In reprisal for the Kansas City Shuffle below, Milo manipulates Andrew into killing him for real.
- The Cake Is a Lie: The jewels are a lie!