Deadfall (1993) (part 2 of 6)
Either way, Joe finds an address book in the satchel, with a listing for Lou Donan, Mike’s brother and Joe’s uncle. With that information gotten, he heads to the thrilling, exciting, intoxicating locale of Santa Monica, California. Well, this is a low rent movie, so it’s only fitting that the majority of it be set in a city that could be described in pretty much the same way. Seriously, even with it being right by the beach, the number one recreation for folks who live there is leaving.
To be fair, they have cleaned up the place in recent years. But still, when your big city landmarks are a carousel and a pier… Damn!
On the bus ride to Santa Monica (snicker, snicker, guffaw), Joe looks through the satchel while, you guessed it, narrating. He pulls a gun from the satchel along with some clothes. He also finds a letter from his dad to Uncle Lou that consists of Mike telling his brother what an asshole he is.
Joe also finds a photo of Mike with the woman he saw briefly at the cemetery. Hilariously enough, she’s wearing the same goddamn outfit she had on at the gravesite. There’s another bit of hilarious stupidity related to this photo, but that’s a ways off.
As Joe looks at the photo, he leans back, and we focus on a rather conspicuous man sitting behind him with a really cheesy fake beard. At least, I hope it’s fake. If you let your beard grow out and it looks like that, it might be a sign that the ZZ Top look is not for you.
Joe arrives in beautiful downtown Santa Monica, and farts around by an outdoor market on the boardwalk, looking for anything out of the ordinary (I’m just going by the narration here). But he finds nothing much except for Clarence Williams III as a grocer. Yes, he will be popping up later, but we’ll be here for a while, so don’t sweat it.
The market turns out to be the site of some sort of criminal operation, which we vaguely see as a piece of paper is passed from a waiter to an old guy, but I’ll be damned if I have the first clue what the operation is all about. Regardless, Joe gets a cup of coffee and sits down, after the cashier flirts with him in the least subtle way possible. To be fair though, when most of your clientele is old guys who probably can’t remember the last time they even saw a nipple, it stands to reason you’re going to come on strong to any guy in your age range.
Joe gives a waiter twenty bucks to get him in touch with Lou, and before you know it, the kid is talking to some guy and walking off. And this is when the movie suddenly goes from a run of the mill crime drama to the most beautiful piece of unintentional comedy the film world has ever known.
Why do I say this? Because we’re about to land on Planet Cage. Be prepared for random weirdness, unintentional laughs, and the realization that it didn’t start when he named his son Kal-El—Nicolas Cage has always been a complete lunatic!
It begins with a man at another table getting Joe’s attention by loudly snapping a deck of playing cards. Joe turns and sees Eddie (Nicolas Cage), who fans out the deck and tells him to “pick a card”. Joe isn’t interested, so our rather odd friend sits right next to him, and I swear to god, you have to see Cage to believe how he looks and sounds here.
Just imagine a guy with the fashion sense of a Miami retiree, a hairstyle and sunglasses that make him look like Andy Kaufman’s Tony Clifton character, a thin pornstar moustache, and a voice that can best be described as “Kirk Douglas after a Valium and a few lines of coke, with marbles in his mouth”. I have to say, that’s a pretty solid description of Eddie.
Eddie, by sheer force of weirdness, gets Joe to pick a card, which turns out to be the joker. Joe then finds out Eddie works for Lou, and so they head off together. This is followed by an inexplicable shot of pretty much nothing, and then a shot of a man with his back turned to the camera, watching them from an office window. I guess that was supposed to be an establishing shot of the office, but all we saw was a random building. I think Chris should have gone with what his Uncle Francis would have done, and had the blinds open up a bit before cutting to the interior shot. But hey, I’m not a Coppola, so what the hell do I know?
Making this even more idiotic is that in the interior shot, the man is clearly seen pulling the blinds down a bit. Christ, even Ed Wood could get that shit right!
Joe and Eddie enter the office, and shock of shocks, Lou is also played by James Coburn! Yes, it turns out Lou is actually Mike’s twin brother. What, you think they’d have Coburn come in for just a quick little deal in the opening three minutes, where his face is only seen once? Come on, he was never that expensive. Hell, I’d bet Bruce Willis got him to do Hudson Hawk by buying him a cup of coffee and having Demi Moore flash him.
While keeping his back to Joe, Lou starts rambling (ah, so it runs in the family, then) and Eddie pulls a gun on Joe. Joe reports the death of Mike, but not the part about the gun, or his involvement in Mike’s death.
Upon hearing this, Lou turns around, and I guess the intent was that the audience would be just as shocked as Joe to see that Lou is a dead ringer for Mike, but come on. James Coburn has one of those distinctive voices you can’t really cover up. And good thing, too, because that would defeat the whole purpose of hiring the man! Hell, it’s probably the only thing that kept him employed for most of his career, given some of the shit he ended up in.
And it’s frigging hilarious, because the only difference between the brothers is that Lou has Coburn’s natural head of distinguished looking white hair, while Mike looked like he went to the La Brea Tar Pits one afternoon and dipped his head in. This is right up there with trying to pass off Frank Stallone as a completely different person by giving him a pair of glasses, a fake nose, and some Brylcreem!
Lou tells Eddie to get Joe a glass of water, and takes a phone call as Joe continues to stand there, looking shocked. Hell, I’m shocked this didn’t prompt another bit of voiceover rambling from Joe, since there’s no dialogue between anyone for several seconds.
While Joe and Lou talk, we focus on Eddie on the couch, popping pills and generally looking like the sleepy-eyed psychotic he is. Eventually, Joe gets teamed up with Eddie for an evening of entertainment. Joe has a slightly less than enthusiastic response, where I’m not so certain it was just the character talking.
Seriously, for most films, I couldn’t give a shit about the B-roll footage. On this one though, I’d love to see how many takes were blown by one of the actors looking over at Cage and going, “You’re really going to do it like that, Nic?”
The scene ends with some Psycho strings playing over Eddie tightly squeezing the armrest of the couch, and then we’re suddenly on the road, with Eddie driving Joe around. The film shows its low budget once again, as this entire shot is a stationary angle from the backseat. Hell, I wouldn’t be shocked if it turned out the director and DP were hanging onto the rear bumper and riding along on skateboards.
Here, the antagonism between the men is quite obvious. Joe is completely unimpressed with Eddie, and as for Eddie, well, it’s pretty clear he’s a psycho to begin with, so having a new face around probably doesn’t do much for his general demeanor.