Combustible Celluloid
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With: Robert De Niro, Wesley Snipes, John Leguizamo, Benicio del Toro, Ellen Barkin, Patti D'Arbanville, Charles Hallahan, Andrew J. Ferchland, Chris Mulkey, Brandon Hammond, John Kruk, Dan Butler, Kurt Fuller, Stanley DeSantis, Don S. Davis, Michael Jace, M.C. Gainey, Aaron Neville, Jack Black
Written by: Phoef Sutton, based on a novel by Peter Abrahams
Directed by: Tony Scott
MPAA Rating: R for strong language throughout and some intense violence
Running Time: 116
Date: 04/26/2017

The Fan (1996)

2 1/2 Stars (out of 4)

Irate Giant

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

During his lifetime, and up until his tragic suicide in 2012, director Tony Scott collected mostly bad reviews for his seventeen features, but in hindsight, many of them could be worthy of second looks. At the time, they may have seemed dull-witted and wasteful, but now they lean more toward highly stylized and unpretentious fun. Set in San Francisco, his baseball movie The Fan (1996) received some of his most scathing notices, with critics complaining about the finale, a ball game played in the dark and pouring rain. Yet Robert De Niro effectively revisits the psychopathic stalker roles he perfected in The King of Comedy and Cape Fear, and Wesley Snipes is good as Bobby Rayburn, a $40 million star player newly traded to the SF Giants, and grappling with a mix of cocksure confidence and self-doubt.

De Niro is Gil Renard a knife salesman who is on the verge of losing his job, and at the same time he makes one mistake too many and his ex-wife won't let him see his son anymore. All he has left is his love of the Giants. When Rayburn goes into a hitting slump, Gil murders fellow player Juan Primo (Benicio Del Toro) so that Rayburn can get his lucky number 11 back. Then, when Gil feels he doesn't get the proper gratitude, he kidnaps Rayburn's son. His ransom? Rayburn must hit a home run. Then the rain comes. Scott directs with his usual penchant for darkness interrupted by slats of glowing light. If you can forgive the illogic of it all, it's tense fun, with some beautiful baseball footage (bonus if you're a Giants fan). Ellen Barkin is a tough radio DJ who can talk baseball harder than most men, and John Leguizamo is Rayburn's slick manager. Look fast for Jack Black as a radio technician.

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