|The Fan (1996) - Know When to Say When.
||[Sep. 10th, 2005|06:15 am]
Is it just me, or is The Fan one of the more disturbing B-films of all time?
They played it on the TNT station tonight, and I watched it late-night.
I can see a handful of reasons as to why film gets the knocks.
1) The mesh of Rolling Stones and Nine Inch Nails.
This was an elementary mistake. They would have done better to go with just an orchestra or something less over-the-top with the soundtrack, something not so obvious. I get it. Nine Inch Nails. Claustrophobic, ready-to-snap, just like Gil. Rolling Stones, tried and true, symbol of the past, just like Gil's muddled ideology and reason. They tried too hard with those tracks. In this case, less would have been more, to fit the nature of the film's slow burn.
Even Gil (Robert De Niro) said it himself, in deceit, to Rayburn (Wesley Snipes), the slugger, . . . "You're Barry Bonds?"
99.9 percent of people who even know what baseball is could have made that connection. We didn't need a semi-cheesy line like that. Albeit, that's in retrospect. Barry Bonds, today, is much larger in the public eye, but in 1996, he was just getting there.
It's the sport. Baseball is in shambles at the moment, and it has never been the same since the 1994 work stoppage which resulted in the cancellation of the World Series. This film is 1996, and it's poor timing, due to the sport.
3) The classic train-wreck finale.
The nature of the ending doesn't fit because the director and writer didn't capture the story quite as well as they did in the first half. It, like the soundtrack, goes over-the-top. The film's tension crashes with a screeching halt just after Gil abducts Rayburn's child, rottweiler, and Hummer. Contrast this scene in which Gil threatens Rayburn with the truly cheesy (and repeated) one-liner, "Now do you care?" to when he confronts Juan Primo (Benicio Del Toro) in the sauna and ultimately murders him in an attempt to help Rayburn.
The abduction is the precise moment when the momentum of this film, once approaching the classic pantheon of thrillers, disembarks on a spiral staircase, falling end-over-end down it, to the basement of films that can be forgotten.
In my opinion, the Primo murder sequence seems far more powerful and within the demonstrated realm of Gil's character.
In the sequence which Gil threatens Rayburn, he demands that they flash a picture of him with Rayburn's child, teething knives like pirates. Gil also threatens Rayburn with a demand for Rayburn to hit a home run for Gil. If Rayburn does not comply, then his kid dies.
At this point, we know Gil is crazy, and by this time we know he's lost any grip on reality. The demands, to me, didn't fit Gil's character. It was a sudden shift even from his demented grip on reality. His demands went over-the-top of his character, and they don't fit his prior psychological display. It wasn't a natural progression.
Anyone who just kidnapped a child and stole a Hummer would stick out like a neon sign in the night. In a city like San Francisco, flaming is not a stranger. However, police can easily find a joyrider in a Hummer, especially if it belongs to a man like Rayburn.
However, at the train tracks during Gil's phone call to Rayburn, Gil's old little league teammate, Coop (Charles Hallahan), figures out that things are not right. No guy like Coop proceeds to participate in a game of catch, not even to placate a dangerously insane man that hasn't even demonstrated the ability to hold him against his will.
In sum, from that moment of abduction, the film progresses into a succession of over-the-top moments, each topping the other in terms of implausibility.
I feel that this film is a general waste of Robert De Niro's and Wesley Snipes's talent because of the sudden drop in quality of story at point of abduction. The actors performed quite well. I never pointed a finger at either of them because they gave powerful souls to their respective characters.
I will go so far as to say that De Niro's Gil was a great anti-hero, a man who could generate empathy but ultimately inspire loathing in an audience. By the end of the film, Gil becomes a fairy tale in the imagination of a six-year-old, and it's the story-teller, not De Niro, that makes it so.
The film, despite its quite-flawed nature, still brings up great question of the role of public figures and recognized leaders with regard to the example they provide. Also, it clearly begs a question of how best to help people so disturbed.
The film demonstrates well what can happen when a person so genuinely defected in reason can translate a principle of accomplishment, at any cost, and literally take that principle beyond its intended limit. It also shows the heartbreak of all those who know the demented person.
De Niro's character, outside of the plot, is quite believable. People like him do exist in society. His character cannot listen to reason because he lacks that proper range within which to listen and self-assess. The most disturbing part of Gil's insanity is his ability to function in society just enough to avoid incarceration for his most demented viewpoint and behaviors. Gil did not understand many of the nuances of human interaction. Gil's reality played, to me, in gut-wrenching detail as a man who just did not get it.
However, the story, like De Niro's Gil to his acquaintances, makes the audience wish that they'd never met.