Friday, March 14, 2008


The Action Mutant…
doesn’t want what Nicolas Cage is on. He has his limits.


review by Joe Burrows

Coppola. There are certain distinguished names in cinema and that is one of them. No one can claim they made arguably the greatest film ever and (arguably) the greatest sequel ever (The Godfather 1 & 2, respectively) but Francis Ford Coppola can. Even though the rest of his career can be defined as “mixed” at best, no one will be able to take that distinction from him. Nicolas Cage (once credited by his real name of Nicolas Coppola) worked his way from small roles to winning an Oscar for Leaving Las Vegas in 1995. Even Sofia Coppola (Francis’ daughter), who delivered one of the most ripe performances of all time in The Godfather Part III, has become a successful director with The Virgin Suicides and Lost in Translation. But what about Christopher Coppola? Francis’ nephew never really took off in cinema, despite what looked like a promising project in 1993. Respected pedigree? Check. Top shelf cast? Check. Decent enough story? Uh…check. Brother giving a well balanced, comprehensible performance? I’ll have to get back to you on that.

The Plot, as it was:
Michael Biehn plays Joe Dolan, a con artist who is a master of the fleece. However, things go deathly wrong when he accidentally kills his father Mike (James Coburn) during a con job. Mike utters his dying wish, that Joe should reclaim some stolen valuables from his twin brother Lou (also Coburn). Joe gets into Lou’s good graces and starts paling up with his coke addled right-hand man Eddie (Nicolas Cage) and Eddie’s woman (Sarah Trigger). As you would guess with a movie about con artists, things aren’t always as they seem.

Don’t shoot me…I’m only the reviewer!:
The funny thing about a production is that, while a project can survive a bad performance or two, it can be absolutely crippled by a horrendous performance. That is the fate befallen by Deadfall, a film seemingly unable to be rescued. Though it may have been your first guess, it isn’t because of the direction. Chris Coppola doesn’t have the sure polish that his uncle did but there are some nifty shots and a solid noir-ish feel to the whole thing (complete with Biehn narrating the enveloping story). The plot is solid, though it gets weak around the last ten minutes, as the ending is a little hard to swallow. And the cast is uniformly strong, with Trigger, Coburn and Charlie Sheen (as a snappily dressed pool hustler) standing out from a large name cast. But, notice I didn’t mention one name from the main cast.

That man would be Nicolas Cage

It’s a good thing that the Academy cannot revoke Oscar statuettes due to previous performances because Cage’s would have been taken away due to this film’s existence. Looking like the bastard offspring of Tony Clifton and sounding like a cross between Hunter S. Thompson and a glue-sniffing bus patron, Cage spits, screams, barks, flails, sputters, shrieks, barks (yes, I mentioned it twice) and bounces all over the place like an epileptic infant. Nearly half of his dialogue is beyond comprehension, while the other half is mumbled in a hazy wheeze. During his 20 minutes or so on screen, he pops pills and snorts coke, makes odd references to Sam Peckinpah, throws honest-to-God fits like a child and manages to scream the phrase “HI-FUCKING-YA!” while assaulting someone. The “performance” is not made any better by some noticeably bad vocal syncing with his voice and his ramblings on screen, which makes things actually more surreal. As much as I mentioned here, I don’t think mere words can describe how much of a train wreck Cage is here. Though he’s been known for his eccentricities in other films, this role truly takes the cake. Unfortunately, it’s so out there that it inadvertently becomes the focus of the film. Like a petulant, crying child at a birthday party, he becomes the only thing you will likely remember at the end of this. But hey, if you get off on crazy cinematic train wrecks, knock yourself out!

Body Count/Violence: 4. Though low on bodies, there is violence via guns and knives in spots. There is also a death involving a deep fryer.

Sexuality/Nudity: Trigger and Biehn have a nice sex scene, which showcases both of their bodies off nicely (though obviously, more attention is paid to her). There is also stripper nudity, as well.

Language/Dialogue: Pretty strong throughout. You might not be able to understand if Cage is cussing much, though.

How bad was it?:
The few reviews done on the film can’t get past mentioning Cage’s performance. It is THAT distracting! The rest of the film gets so-so responses.

Did it make the studio’s day?:
Hardly. Trimark released Deadfall on 10/8/93 to…get ready…two theaters! Now that’s confidence! Anyway, the film cleared $18,369 from those two theaters and that was the extent of its American run. No budget figures but I’m sure it was more than $18,369.

Film: *1/2/*****
Entertainment value: ***/*****

Copyright 2007 The Action Mutant.

No comments: