Starring: Michael Biehn, Nicholas Cage, James Coburn
Genre: Drama/ Thriller
After his latest scam goes tragically wrong, con artist Joe (Biehn) carries out his father’s (Coburn) dying wish by recovering valuables that his father’s twin brother Lou (also Coburn) stole many years ago. However despite Joe thinking he is the one doing the con, he soon realises he is part of an even deeper and dangerous world of cons involving Lou, the manic Eddie (Cage), Eddie’s seductive girlfriend Diane (Sarah Trigger) and a charisma free Charlie Sheen.
We all love to laugh at Nic Cage and his tendency to overact, but what is more depressing is that in his earlier films he did it just as badly and then somehow went on to become a Hollywood megastar. Now do not get me wrong; I like Nic Cage and he can be very charismatic when he wants to be, as well as a great figure of unintentional comedy (two words: “The Bees!”) but his performances in his earlier films more suggested crap b-movie actor than potential Hollywood megastar. Either way he has made his millions and certainly made me laugh on numerous occasions, but if you thought he starred in some real tripe these days, check his back catalogue!
Though in fact officially the main star of Deadfall is actually The Terminator’s Michael Biehn, it is Nicholas Cage’s performance that is out there by even his manic standards that this film has got undeserved cult status. Though admittedly his performance is something that has to seen to be believed, there are compilations of his best bits from this film on YouTube available for that as this is one truly appalling film and 98 wasted minutes you will never be able to get back. I usually try to avoid spoilers, but as a kind favour I am going to reveal that perhaps the only reason to watch this film, Nic Cage, is killed off with over 30 minutes to go. Though it is a very funny death scene involving a wig and a deep fat fryer!
Though the story itself could have been good fun if turned into a slick little thriller that would require someone who actually knew how to make a film at the helm. With Cage’s brother Christopher Coppola directing (sadly demonstrating none of the talent of Francis Ford), this film is very much a family affair and yet another depressing demonstration of the nepotism of the insular film industry. It is for this reason that Cage was told he could play the part how the hell he wants, and with a wig, albino contact lenses and a very strange accent certainly does so. Just to further keep things in the family, Marc Coppola turns up as one of the most uncomfortable film extras I have ever seen, he even accidentally looks directly at the camera at one point!
The performances from the rest of the cast do not fare much better either. In the leading role Michael Biehn may have the charm to play his character well if it were written well and the film were actually good, but is straight faced performance just makes him look bored, sharing no chemistry and an appalling sex scene with an equally bored looking Sarak Trigger, the film’s apparent femme fatale. James Coburn plays it for laughs, chewing scenery in every scene and generally embarrassing himself. The worst of all has to Charlie Sheen; appearing in only one scene, he is an actor that can be charismatic but yet he tries here to be serious and intense, but (partly thanks to the horrific dialogue) his performance is both unintentionally hilarious and embarrassing to watch as billiards playing gangster called Morgan ‘Fatts’ Grip.
$11 million is a reasonable amount of money to spend on a film, especially in 1993, but all that money must have been spent on wild parties at shez Coppola as this film looks like it was made for 11 quid! The dialogue, editing, camerawork and cinematography are all absolutely appalling, it is impossible to tell if it is a serious film or comedy, and I do not think Coppola knew either. The result is a total mess that is embarrassingly in the middle and something that should be shown to film students everywhere as a case study in how not to make a film. There was a good, enjoyable story in there somewhere, but when Nic Cage isn’t around (and that is about 80% of the film), watching it is truly hard work. It is a story that is so badly constructed, and contains one of the most clichéd, clunky and generic voice-overs ever written that is truly impossible to care who is double crossing who by the end with its apparent big ‘twist’.
Why this wannabe bond villain turns up at one point is certainly anyone’s guess, and I think just demonstrates that by this point in the plot even those making it no longer cared:
A film that deserved to be forgotten about and would have been if weren’t for one of Nic Cage’s most outrageous performances. Deadfall is an example of how not to make a film in every way and only exists due to Hollywood nepotism. Watch the YouTube clips of Cage, but avoid the other 80% of this truly atrocious 98 minutes!
1/10 (and the 1 is solely for the Cage comedy factor)