Deadfall (1993) (part 5 of 6)
Joe frees Lou, and later, they talk about the big con while standing out by the oil fields where they apparently buried Eddie’s body. Evidently, Eddie was the main player in the con, and now Lou needs Joe to take his place. As luck would have it, it’s going to be the exact same con we saw in the beginning of the film. Naturally. Otherwise, our hero would have no emotional dilemma to work his way through.
Joe is vague in his answer, and sure enough, we next cut to him driving around while narrating about what the audience can already guess. Look, we already know he’s tormented by the nature of the con. Goddamn, I love this film, but holy shit, is the script awful!
Joe arrives back at his motel, and after some emotional outbursts where Joe isn’t sure he can trust Diane, and a rather shameless reference to Apocalypse Now, we get a dream sequence comprised of Joe walking towards us with his head down, with black and white photos zooming at us. It’s very artsy, very pretentious, and totally pointless. It’s also very predictable, as it ends with Joe shooting Mike.
Yes, even though this ties in with the main character’s dilemma, it’s still pointless. Why? Because it’s shit we already knew after the first three minutes of the movie, and Michael Biehn is a good enough actor that we don’t need the constant narration and bullshit reminders. I honestly don’t know what the hell Chris Coppola was thinking when he made this movie, but I can safely say he has nothing on his uncle.
When this film sticks to just out of the blue strangeness, it’s great, but when it tries to go for the deep character stuff, goddamn. To be fair though, the dream itself is moderately out there, but when you compare it to what’s come before and what will follow, it just doesn’t hold up.
Later that night, Joe is drinking and looking at the torn photo. He repeats a line Diane said earlier, which Mike used to say (well, there’s a big clue as to the twist at the end), “Leave the past to people who are stuck there.” Fade to black. Well, that was pointless.
The next day, in lieu of giving James Coburn a grand “explaining the plot” moment, we’re given a pointless bit of narration from Joe, as Lou reveals that the “cake” is just a small model of a cake.
Turns out Lou was in love with Joe’s mother, and had the cake made for her, but Mike stole her away from him. Accordingly, Lou takes the top off the cake to reveal an engagement ring. He gives it to Joe, and as far as plot devices go, this is one of the most anticlimactic I’ve come across in a while. Still, if it leads to more insanity (and it does, don’t worry), I’m all for it.
Joe tells Lou to hang onto the ring, and then Lou begins to get sentimental. He suggests Joe join him and Blanche in Tahiti. Yeah, that sounds like a real good time.
They get down to business, and the con is finally laid out. A man named Dr. Lyme is the mark, and he happens to be a diamond merchant specializing in stolen diamonds. The idea is to lure him in with an expensive watch, some cash, and a diamond. Lou asks about Joe’s pool game, and this leads us back to the wonderful world of strangeness, because we’re about to meet the man who can lead Joe to Dr. Lyme.
Joe enters a pool hall and requests a billiards table. For those not in the know, billiards is basically pool without the pockets. In other words, it’s about as enthralling as a beige room.
Joe lays some money on a billiards table, and begins to assemble his cue. As he does this, a familiar voice asks whether the money is “per game or per point”. The voice turns out to belong to Charlie Sheen. Sheen is quite the sight to behold here, although not as nutty as Cage, and certainly not as odd as what we’ll see in a little bit.
His hair is cut short, he has a goatee that makes him look like the Devil, and it would also seem he just came over to the set after getting blown by a hooker at the Playboy Mansion, if his smoking jacket is any indication.
Sheen sets the stakes for the game, and suggests they move to his preferred table. He tells a guy named Sausage (after what I’ve seen so far, I’m not even going to touch that—too damned easy) to set the table up. And I’m not certain, but if his delivery is any indication, this was apparently filmed during the time Sheen was still pretty heavily into the drugs. Hell, his dad and brother may have decided to stage an intervention just based on his performance here.
Sheen, whose character’s name is “Morgan Gripp”, notes out of nowhere that this is “one of the rare occasions that one… plus one… equals one.” We also see he has a sharp silver fingernail on one finger of his left hand. If this wasn’t a noir film, I’d swear he’s supposed to be Satan.
They introduce themselves to each other, with Gripp noting that people just call him “Fats”. He also refers to Joe as “Mr. Joe.” To be honest, this scene is actually pretty good; it has a real David Lynch quality to it. It’s still hilariously bizarre, but I do have to give credit where credit is due.
The game begins, and for the most part, it’s Gripp playing while Joe just looks on with subtle exasperation, and cheesy sax riffs are heard on the soundtrack. Gripp goes on and on about how Mark Twain played billiards, and then he notes he hasn’t seen Joe around town.
Gripp: That makes sense. Welcome to Paradise, Mr. Joe.
Yeah, soon to be lost, right? I’ll be damned if this weirdo isn’t supposed to be the Devil.
Gripp then starts talking about billiards, and the strategy of the game. It’s all just… Well, it’s just weird for the sake of being weird. Personally, I think the only reason to play billiards is if you and your friends think it would be hilarious if you did that instead of playing pool and actually enjoying the evening.
In an odd moment, Sausage breaks Gripp’s concentration, which I guess breaks his momentum, finally giving Joe a chance. It would be great if they were just playing pool, because that requires nothing in the way of overlong explanations. Billiards, on the other hand, I don’t get. I’m not certain billiard pros even get it, and for the sake of our collective sanity, I think we should just move on.
Joe blows his turn, and ends up owing Gripp $24,000. Upon hearing Joe doesn’t have the money, Sausage presses a button, and two tough guys enter. Joe tries to talk his way out of this, offering the guys his watch. This buys him some time, but it also earns him threats from Gripp. Low key, possibly stoned threats, but threats nonetheless.
Joe is escorted out after a farewell from Gripp, and we get one last little moment from the guy as he takes another shot and says, “Goddamn, I am good.” Sure, whatever you say, you goddamn billiards-playing Satan!