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  Deadfall Consider The Cage
Year: 1993
Director: Christopher Coppola
Stars: Michael Biehn, Sarah Trigger, Nicolas Cage, James Coburn, Peter Fonda, Charlie Sheen, Talia Shire, J. Kenneth Campbell, Michael Constantine, Marc Coppola, Micky Dolenz, Brian Donovan, Renée Estevez, Ted Fox, Angus Scrimm, Clarence Williams III
Genre: Thriller, TrashBuy from Amazon
Rating:  3 (from 1 vote)
Review: Joe Donan (Michael Biehn) is an undercover cop, and tonight it was all going to plan but he was overconfident in his ability to pull the wool over the eyes of the criminals he helped arrest. He and his target had pulled up at a back alley to meet with the contact, who happened to be his father in disguise (James Coburn), and they fooled the man into handing over his money for drugs, but part of that sting had to see Joe's father pretend to be shot by him. It all seemed to go according to their scheme - until Donan Sr. was discovered to actually have been shot dead.

The tagline for this, should you have seen it in the cinema or more likely have stumbled across it on video or later DVD, was "The Ultimate Con", a summation you may have had to agree with after watching it and hoping for one of those neo-noirs that happened along in the late eighties and nineties. You know the sort of thing, The Grifters, House of Games, The Last Seduction, and so on, but if on the other hand you wanted an absurdist comedy then you may have been in luck. Not that it was none too clear if this was supposed to be funny or if in fact all concerned had taken leave of their senses, but in co-writer and director Christopher Coppola's hands, anything was possible.

Coppola was of course part of the family of the more celebrated Francis Ford Coppola, his nephew as it was, which explained why so many of his family members had been recruited for roles here both in front of and behind the camera. But there was only one man to consider here as the star of the show, and that was his brother Nicolas Cage, an actor well known for his willingness to go to odd places in his thespian journey, so when you knew this was demonstrating him at his most whacked out then you'd be aware that was really saying something. Cage was incredible to behold here, some would term him a force of nature, and that was just his costume and makeup decisions.

Once Joe has begun to investigate his father's past life he discovers an Uncle Lou he never knew he had, also played by Coburn with some degree of dignity in reduced circumstances, and his chief henchman is Cage as Eddie. For this, and apparently the star was allowed to design his own look, he sported red contact lenses under shades, an obvious and ill-fitting wig, and a retroussé nose, but that was nothing compared to his behaviour, with such catchphrases as "Vive la fucking France, man!" and "Sam Peckinpah!" belted out with gusto, starting his car by swearing at it, snorting coke from what looks like lipstick, and trying to get Joe into trouble because his girlfriend Diane (Sarah Trigger) is smitten with him.

Such is the stupefying eccentricity of Cage here that he overshadows the rest of the movie, but don't go thinking that's all there was to Deadfall as the nuttiness mounted up. Naturally none of this amounted to anything approaching a coherent story, but who cared about that when you had Charlie Sheen as a Satanic pool hustler whose big shot is spoiled by a sneeze, Coppola's aunt Talia Shire displaying an alarming quantity of cleavage as a barmaid, Angus Scrimm as a crime lord who sports a metal arm complete with claw, and yes - could it be Micky Dolenz as a thug? You can sort of see where there could have been a half-decent hardboiled noir contained in this, but Biehn didn't convince as a tough guy and seemed too oblivious to be a satisfying fall guy, Trigger was less a femme fatale than someone to take her clothes off for the sex scene, and Coburn should have been in better movies, frankly. That said, if you wanted that "I can't believe what I'm seeing" feeling from movies, this delivered in abundance. Music by Jim Fox.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

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