Ah, finally film producer Joel Silver graces us with his long overdue presence. Much as Dino De Laurentiis stands as a symbol of Bad Movies ’70s style, Silver can be said to represent everything wrong with films in the ’80s. Known primarily for inane, bombastically kinetic action flicks, Silver made a fortune and defined the ‘event’ film for that decade. In the process, he managed to produce one genuine classic, Die Hard.
He also produced the Lethal Weapon films. Personally, I never found them to be that hot, but you can’t argue with success. Other popular and/or decent films he was involved with include The Warriors, 48 Hours, Commando, Predator, Demon Knight, Executive Decision (featuring that which Jabootu fans have long fantasized about, a grisly death scene featuring Steven Seagal that ‘ironically’ involved sucking) and the recent The Matrix.
Like fellow crapologist Irwin Allen before him, though, Silver used his formula over and over again. Even when box office receipts began to indicate a diminishing audience for this stuff, he continued to churn it out. And as usually happens, the films got progressively lamer. Like a photocopy of a photocopy of a photocopy, they got worse with each succeeding generation.
Recognizing this, Silver tinkered with his old formula, not always with the best results. A particularly disastrous decision was to abandon the ‘buddy picture’ concept. (The odd thing is that Silver never created a buddy film with two female leads. This might have worked.) On those occasions where Silver attempted to broaden his demographic by creating a male/female dynamic, Jabootu struck hard.
One example was the hideously sadistic A Long Kiss Goodnight, a film that helped dig the grave of Geena Davis’ stardom. That movie, however, elided over a romance between the leads. It was much supposed that this was due to the fact that the male lead, Samuel L. Jackson, is black, while Davis is white.
Other fiascoes on the Silver rÃ©sumÃ© include Xanadu, Jekyll & Hydeâ€¦Together Again, Streets of Fire, Brewster’s Millions, Jumpin’ Jack Flash, Hudson Hawk, The Last Boy Scout, Ritchie Rich [isn’t it weird how Silver’s action pictures are so much funnier than his comedies?], Assassins, Fathers’ Day [see previous note] and Conspiracy Theory.
This brings us to Fair Game. You can see, practically smell, Silver’s flop sweat here. This is a film that bundles ten pounds of, uh, bad judgement calls into a five pound bag. First, it’s a formula film produced when the formula was dying off. Second, Silver’s trademark ‘buddy picture’ format was abandoned in a dubious attempt to add sex and romance to the mix. Third, it is, even for a Silver film, tremendously stupid.
The worst decision, however, was presumably driven by the need to keep the budget (comparatively) low. To facilitate this, the leads are portrayed by other than established stars. This had worked for Silver in the past. For instance, Bruce Willis’ first movie (for a then record breaking five million dollar payday) was Die Hard. Willis became an instant A-List star. As did the young Eddie Murphy when he appeared in Silver’s 48 Hours.
Those guys had big screen charisma, though. The leads here definitely do not. Worse yet, unlike Murphy and Nick Nolte in 48 Hours, there’s an all-too-evident void where the chemistry between the stars is supposed to be. Sometimes screen partnerships have it. Gable and Lombard. Hope and Crosby. Newman and Redford. Gibson and Glover. Crawford and Baldwin.
See what I mean?
Supermodel (a bad sign right there) Cindy Crawford improbably plays our hot shot lawyer female lead. Meanwhile, the obligatory rogue-cop-who-makes-his-own-rules protecting her is played by OOT Baldwin. Put them together and they generate enough heat to cause another ice age.
‘OOT’ Baldwin is my shorthand code for ‘One of the’ Baldwin brothers. I adopted it back when I lost the ability to separate them all out. I mean, there’s the slightly more famous Baldwin, the big, beefy Baldwin, the really tall one, the one that’s younger than those (he’s the one, I think, in this movie)â€¦there’s probably more, but I really can’t tell. It’s like a horrible genetic experiment gone awry. In a particularly ’90s touch, it even has an affirmative action equivalent in the Wayans brothers.
Let me get into video boxes here again. Here’s a clue: Never rent a movie with the line “He’s a cop on the edge” on the cover. Here’s another: If the only highlighted ‘critic’ is someone you’ve never heard of, like Chris Hewitt of the Knight-Ridder Tribune News Wire, stay away. There are people who like to get blurbed, and will therefore write intellectually and esthetically improbable quotes.
For instance, Hewitt’s supposed claim that Fair Game is “Sexy, exciting and fun.” Of course, I haven’t seen the entire review from which the quote was taken. To be fair to Mr. Hewitt, the full line might well have read “Sexy, exciting and fun are three things that Fair Game definitely isn’t.”
Here’s a final clue. Don’t rent movies whose plot descriptions include prose like the following: “If Kate and Max itch, the killers after them know where to scratch.” “The killers are sure the two have met their match. It’s a match, all right: one to light a hellfire of retaliation.” “Kate and Max are on the run. Buckle up for the movie that keeps up with them.”
We open on a beach at sunrise. The sun is cinematically appearing over the horizon, and the shots are given an over-saturated orange tint. Bad flamenco music plays as we cut to a slow motion shot of pumping, running legs. Another angle shows a silhouetted Crawford from the neck down as she continues to jog in slow-mo. In an inane ‘artistic’ choice, these shots are then all superimposed atop of one another. Still, you can’t accuse them of waiting too long to exploit Crawford’s body, the movie’s only real asset.
To make our putative distaff star more comfortable (as misery loves company), we see that other and better known female actors are doomed to be embarrassed here. Salma Hayek’s name appears in the credits, as does Jenette Goldstein’s. Goldstein played Vasquez, the tough female marine in Jim Cameron’s Aliens. She should have quit whilst she was ahead.
After this, ahem, ‘arty’ opening, we switch to a normal lighting scheme. This allows us to better ogle the sweaty Crawford in her spandex shorts and sports bra. So we watch super-lawyer Kate McQuean
Kate is still jogging when we hear a silenced shot. Luckily, if somewhat improbably, the bullet is deflected by the teeny-tiny cassette player strapped to her arm. Make sure to watch this bit in slo-mo. First, there’s a way-silly animated burst of light meant to represent the bullet ricocheting off the Walk-man. Second, let’s just grant that it’s possible for this flimsy device to deflect a bullet. (Which I don’t.) Even so, given where she’s hit and the angle from which the shot came, the slug would have to go off to her left. This makes it somewhat strange that a window off to her right shatters.
Next we head over to a generic movie Police Station. Here we meet tough cop Max Kirkpatrick. In a ‘comic’ intro, we see Max on the phone, trying to contact his bank. He’s listening with exasperation to the automated menu of options. This subtly informs us that Max is a Man of Action who has Trouble Dealing with The Rules.
Max is having a bad day. He’s not getting a mortgage for a condo he wants because the computer shows that he bounced a check seven years ago. Then his ex-girlfriend Rita (Salma Hayek) stalks into the squad room and angrily dumps a bunch of stuff on his desk. She tells him to get his, uh, crap out of her apartment. When he asks if she can keep it down, she begins a ‘humorous’ foulmouthed tirade wherein she disses him in front of his fellow detectives.
This scene is even less funny than it probably sounds. This is one of those films that seem to have been written by a computer. And a poorly programmed one at that. We begin with a little ‘sex’ (Kate jogging in her short shorts), then some violence (Kate getting shot at). This is then mechanically followed by some, supposedly, ‘comic’ relief (the hilarious Angry Girlfriend Chew-Out scene, executed by a Spicy Hispanic Chick to boot). After this, we continue with the standard blueprint. Now that Max has been comically emasculated, it’s time for the film to prove his Man o’ Action bonafides.
So we cut to an orange jump-suited prisoner acting in a somewhat broadly suspicious manner. Sure enough, he soon grabs a gun away from an inattentive bail bondsman. (Doesn’t this kind of thing seem to happen in movies much more regularly than in real life?) In an extremely lame ‘action’ bit, Max kicks a computer monitor into the guy’s crotch, hits him in the face with a keyboard and finally smashes his head into a desk.
The cowering Rita stands up, swearing in Spanish and making the sign of the cross. All she needs to do at this point is don a big sombrero and take a swat at a piÃ±ata. Before exiting, she tells Max that she doesn’t need this, uh, stuff in her life. I don’t know if that was supposed to be the character Rita speaking, or if it was actress Salma Hayek swearing off further embarrassing manquÃ© Rosie Perez roles.
We now meet Max’s boss, Lt. Meyerson, played by a presumably embarrassed Christopher McDonald. Although he’s listed fourth in the credits, Meyerson plays little part in the film. He’s onscreen for, I would guess, well under five minutes and disappears entirely before the picture’s halfway over. (No doubt to actor McDonald’s profound relief.)
Meyerson orders Max to interview Kate. She’s in a conference room, waiting to report the shooting. Here, as you might have guessed, the film treats us to an utterly excruciating ‘meet cute.’ (Further evidence of the Plot-O-Matic 3000â„¢ computer at work.) As Max enters the room, we see Kate, still in her hubba-hubba sweat gear, on the phone. She’s busily spitting out ‘Lawyer’ lingo that has all of the authenticity of someone on Star Trek yelling “Captain, we must modulate the phase variance of the shield harmonics!”
Actually, I imagine that if you walked in to a room containing Cindy Crawford it’d be pretty much the same thing. Only instead of juggling legal matters, she’d be busy performing arm curls and butt crunches, all while making sure not to make skin contact with any surface that may have a dusting of sugar on it.
The film then ups the humor ante (from zero to, uh, zero) by having the phone ring as Max begins the interview. Only, it’s not for him (*snigger*), it’s for her. Because she’s a big-shot attorney, get it? When she finally gets off the phone, another one rings. Max can’t figure out which phone it is, so Kate points out that it’s the fax machine. Sure enough (ho ho) it’s a fax for Kate.
Max then takes advantage of Kate’s presence to knock lawyers. Because, you know, cops hate lawyers. More comedy! (Please, kill me know.) Max notes that being a lawyer is a problem “only if you like seeing criminals put behind bars.” Kate ably parries this droll gibe by wryly noting, “You’re right. It would be so much easier if we could just lock people up without a trial, now wouldn’t it?!” Wow, it’s like she’s Clarence Darrow and Oscar Wilde in one package!
Still, beneath all their witty verbal jousting, there lies an unacknowledged but powerful sexual tension. But enough about Bruce Willis and Cybil Shepherd on Moonlighting. Let’s get back to our movie.
Kate, of course, is a lawyer, and words are the tools with which she makes her living. Therefore, it’s unsurprising when she quickly gets the upper hand in their rhetorical duel. (Especially since Max is being played by a Baldwin.) She lays the trap by noting that Florida cops have an unsavory reputation for taking bribes, then delivers her devastating oratorical riposte:
Kate: “You know what they call a Florida Cop in a three piece suit?”
Max: “No. What?”
Kate: “The defendant!”
At this, Max bursts into laughter, acknowledging that he has no rejoinder to her razor-edged bon mot. Ah, it brings back the glory days of Dorothy Parker and the Algonquin Roundtable, doesn’t it? Their sly verbal foreplay at an end, Kate takes her leave. Which is kind of odd, as Max never really asked her any questions about the shooting. Sherlock Holmes he ain’t.
We next see Kate entering her office. Her professional attire includes a pre-Ally McBeal business jacket and mini-skirt combo. She greets the obvious indigents sitting in her waiting room. This array of salt-of-the-Earth clients informs us that Kate is a noble benefactor of the downtrodden. No greedy Corporate Lawyer she!
Waiting in her office is a hopefully embarrassed Dan Hedya. He’s playing Walter, a more typically sleazeball lawyer. You know, for contrast. He leers at her legs and makes sexist remarks. (Maybe he’s leering at her legs because she’s wearing a mini-skirt. Oops, it’s sexist to point that out. Right?) Meanwhile, I noticed that Kate never sits down. Probably because if she did whilst wearing that skirt she’d end up doing an impression of Sharon Stone in Basic Instinct, if you know what I mean.
This leads to yet more painful ‘comedy.’ Kate nails the lowlife Walter for trying to hide some of his client Juantorena’s (yes, that’s a name, not a typo) property in a divorce. Hedya, presumably under the express orders of the film’s director, mugs and bugs his eyes and basically acts like he’s in a silent movie.
Walter thinks he’s got Kate on the ropes when he threatens to tie up the proceedings in red tape. At worst, he chuckles, he’ll get hit with a small fine for helping his client hide his assets. He’s soon outwitted, though, by the savvy Kate (duh). Since one of the items of hidden property is a ship, the Tortuga, she threatens to haul him and his client into Maritime Court. (On a divorce proceeding?!)
“The law of the sea is simple,” she announces. “And federal. I don’t care if you hid the registry of this vessel in Panama or Podunk. I want the title signed over to my client in 48 hours. Or you’re going to end up in a Federal Prison so deep
I must note that this scene fails in its primary purpose of showing Kate to be a hard-as-nails super-lawyer. Why? Because you don’t prove someone’s superior skills by having them outwit a moron.
I should mention that the client, Juantorena, is also hiding a ski house, a condo and a private airplane. Meanwhile, the Tortuga proves to be a rusty old cargo ship. So apparently the deal is that Walter’s guy gets to keep the first three assets. In return, Kate’s client gets sole ownership of the Tortuga. Yeah, I’m pretty sure that’s the way she wanted it. “Let that bastard keep the real estate and the private plane,” she no doubt instructed Kate. “Just get me that cargo ship!”
This scene, however, proves to have greater utility than to prove Kate’s rather questionable legal expertise. It also provides a segue. (*Yawn*) We now visit the Tortuga at sea. In the hold, rather than cargo, we see a dankly lit room containing a cornucopia of supposedly elaborate cutting-edge computer equipment. You know, you really have to wonder why super-villains can never afford decent lighting for their secret headquarters.
In attendance is Juantorena himself, along with Kazak, his Evil Partner (or something). Kazak is played by veteran heavy Steven Berkoff, memorable as the head bad guy in Beverly Hills Cop. That this actor has a thick British accent might make him, to some, an odd choice to play the putatively Russian Kazak. Berkoff, by the by, is due to make another appearance to our site in fairly short order. This is because he played the villain (what else?) in Prince’s execrable Under the Cherry Moon.
Juantorena wastes no time in spitting out some clunky expository dialog. Kazak, we learn, is an ex-KGB nogooknik. (Gee, that’s fresh.) Juantorena taunts him for screwing up the hit on Kate. For good reason, I might add. Let’s even grant that he had a good reason (like what?) for trying to nail her on a crowded boulevard in broad daylight. Even so, it seems improbable that he (or a member of his team) would take one shot and then drive off in a panic.
Juantorena walks over to a computer. He strikes about a dozen keys and pulls up Kate driver’s license info from the DMV database. Then he accesses a satellite and quickly has the image of Kate’s house arrayed across his monitor. This takes him all of ten seconds. It’s amazing what screen villains can do with a computer. Even more amazing is that Juantorena is apparently some kind of genius computer dude, yet was unable to cover up ownership of the vessel that serves as his floating headquarters.
Just in case anyone doesn’t get it, Juantorena and Kazak are running some McGuffin-y scam using the computers on this ship. Once they realized that Kate had learned of his ownership of this vessel, they sent their ex-KBG mercenaries to blow her away. Now she must be killed before she draws attention to the Tortuga. Apparently, the idea is that no other lawyer would have been brilliant enough to connect him with the ship (yeah, like lawyers personally do that kind of research). Therefore, with Kate out of the way, their evil plans can safely come to fruition.
This almost (well, almost) sounds like a somewhat serviceable plot. Except for a couple of obvious points. First, Kate’s threat to haul a divorce case into a federal Maritime Court seems rather dubious, to say the least. Next, why would criminal mastermind Juantorena have a schlub attorney like Walter? I mean, he can afford all this computer equipment, private planes and cargo ships, not to mention a whole team of professional (if inept) assassins. You’d think he’d have rather better legal representation.
Yet the biggest miscue involves the film’s giving the Evil Plot a time element. You know, for ‘suspense’ purposes. Juantorena notes that he needs, at most, forty-eight hours for his computers to complete their nefarious task. So unless we believe that Kate’s actions would somehow result in law enforcement types finding and seizing his ship in less than two days, well, I don’t see how’d she represent much of a threat to his plans. Yet even if she received her change of venue to Maritime Court, that would take weeks, more likely months, to set up.
Now the Plot-O-Matic 3000â„¢ calls for some additional (ugh) humor. So we cut to Max, reading a book on fixing your credit rating. (Yes, I think this is supposed to be funny in some manner.) His partner, Louis, interrupts him and hauls him over to a window. Outside (get ready for hilarity!), we see Rita. Uh-oh! Comedy Ahoy!!
This time, Rita arrives with an entire pickup truck full of Max’s stuff. She dumps it into the street so that a car runs into it, then grabs a baseball bat and continues smashing the stuff. Then she threatens the driver of the car with the bat. All this, mind you, directly in front of a police station. I can think of quite a few ordinances she’s just violated, yet none of the cops watching suggest arresting her.
We cut to Kate’s house. Just like Madonna’s, er, character in Body of Evidence, Kate lives in a giant floating house on the water. This place looks like it would cost a fortune, yet Kate’s clients are all indigents. Nor is there any suggestion that she’s independently wealthy. This serves to shatter whatever tenuous suspension of disbelieve we’ve managed to sustain up to now.
Kate walks into her bedroom and removes her jacket, taunting the audience with the possibility that Crawford’s going to show some skin. She walks into the bathroom and starts slipping off her blouse, examining her bandages. Thenâ€¦
â€¦we cut to Max back at the Police Station. Considering that it’s now nighttime, Max is apparently pulling a sixteen hour shift. So is the rest of his shift. Max just wants to go home (no kidding!). Lt. Meyerson, however, informs him that he didn’t get Kate to sign her statement. (This guy’s a detective? And what statement? She talked to Max for about half a minute.) Also, Kate left her pager behind. (This chick’s a lawyer? Actually, wouldn’t a lawyer know to sign a police statement?)
So (get this!), instead of calling Kate and making her come back down to the station the next morning, Meyerson orders Max to go to her house that very evening and get her to sign the report. Yeah, that sounds like procedure to me. Nor do we see any indication that Max even calls over there to make sure she’s home.
Back at Kate’s palatial abode, we see an ominous looking fellow exit a SUV parked nearby. He looks at his watch. This indicates to the savvy viewer (savvy enough to get stuff like this but not savvy enough to have stopped watching the film, that is) that there’s a bomb set to go off in her house. I’m not sure why he had to leave his truck in order to look at his watch. Other than to allow us to see him looking at his watch.
Inside, Kate is pouring a small dish of cream. I assume it’s for her cat, because there’s no way that someone with Kate’s figure would be imbibing all those calories in one shot. Hmmâ€¦yep! There’s the cat. Kate then conveniently walks out upon the house’s outdoor balcony. This way, when the bomb goes offâ€¦well, I don’t want to give anything away.
Unsurprisingly, Max picks this moment to drive up. Inside, Kate asks the skittish cat if it wants to watch TV, noting that “it’s not going to kill ya!” (Boy, the irony, huh?) Then, just in case they haven’t sufficiently telegraphed what’s about to happen, Kate and Max begin to move in slo-mo. By which I mean, even slower than they have been already. Which is pretty slow.
From the balcony, leaning back against the railing, Kate punches her TV remote. Apparently, she prefers to watch her television from the greatest possible distance. As the TV activates a bomb goes off. The resultant explosion is so massive that Kate is turned into a stuntwoman and blown off her balcony. Boy, good thing she went outside before turning her TV on, huh?
My question: If the bomb was set to go off whenever she turned her TV on, why was the assailant meaningfully staring at his watch? Does she always watch TV at the same time? Still, I shouldn’t complain. After all, there’s a huge bomb going off in my TV right now, and I guess that I should just be glad that I haven’t turned into a stuntwoman. (Hmm, of course, then the stuntwoman would be watching this movie, soâ€¦)
By the way, if you’re thinking ‘Atomic Grenadeâ„¢’ at this point, give yourself two points. Either the Russians crammed a small tactical nuclear device into her television, or else her home was constructed of plastique.
Also, let me get this straight. For whatever reason, the original assailant took one measly shot at Kate and then took off, burning rubber. However, the next attempt on her life involves planting a humongous incendiary device in her house, one that takes the entire top floor off. I’m not a professional assassin, but surely there’s something between the two extremes.
Bomber Guy looks into the water and notices that Kate is still alive and kicking. Well, alive and bobbing, anyway. Out comes a machine pistol, as he attempts to shoot her from a ridiculously long distance. (Actually, it seems somewhat unlikely that he’d even have spotted her.) This leads to more ‘dramatic’ slo-mo footage as he rushes towards her while firing. This despite that fact that he’d run out of bullets in about two seconds. I know that a machine gun is louder and more ‘dramatic,’ but I’d really recommend a sniper rifle at this point. Of course, then he’d actually hit her and the movie would be over. (All the more reason, if you ask me.)
Meanwhile, we see Max reaching for his pistol. Next comes what is, without doubt, the single most ridiculous ‘John Woo’ rip-off shot I’ve ever seen. Max, in slow motion, leaps for the water while firing shot after shot as he flies through the air. (Sound effects ludicrously suggest that he gets off seven or eight shots during the leap.) Needless to say, it would be practically impossible to hit anything in this fashion, much less a running target at night.
Plus, once Max is in the water, both he and Kate are going to be easy pickings for someone firing down at them from the dock. Unbelievably, though, Max has somehow managed to scare off their assailant. (This guy was a professional Soviet assassin?!) The fellow runs as Max swims over and helps Kate from the water.
Juantorena is somewhat peeved by the news of Kate’s survival. (If he saw what I did, he’d have the guy’s head on a pike.) He gives Kazak some lip and Kazak blows him away. Then Kazak asks one of Juantorena’s men whether he can do everything that needs to be done. Rather luckily for Kazak, the answer is ‘yes.’ What would he have done if Juantorena had proven indispensable to the operation? No wonder we won the Cold War.
We catch up with Kate, Max and Louis, driving around with sirens and lights and the whole deal. Max is on the radio with Nancy, a Forensic Scientist. He asks her the status of her investigation, which she’s presumably been conducting for over fifteen minutes now. “So far, all I’ve got is a blast pattern and a strong smell of marzipan,” she notes. Boy, those jargon-spewing Forensic Scientists, huh?
She notes that “the blast was shaped in a military configuration to blow through the apartment and kill anything in its path.” Hmm, yeah, that sounds about right. “These guys are not fooling around, Max,” she concludes. I’m thinking that Max might have already figured that part out. You know, when he saw the tremendous fireball that totally obliterated the top floor of Kate’s house. Let’s not forget, after all, that Max is a trained detective.
Next comes a moment of stunning stupidity, even for this film. The formation of cop cars, all with sirens and lights a’blazing, arrives in front of a closed-down hotel. This is going to be the ‘safe house’ (!!!) where Kate will be ‘hidden.’ Max and Kate are met at the door by a couple of Red Shirts, er, detectives. After all, you have to have some sacrificial types ready for when the bad guys come a’calling.
One of the cops notes that Our Twosome stinks, something we perceived quite a while ago. However, he means literally, from their being in the water. This will set up the next ‘action’ set-piece. Max, meanwhile, throws some orders around. “Keep her away from the front windows,” he commands. Yeah, that’s probably a good idea. Then Max notes that he’s going to check to see if the back door is locked. Hmm, Kate obviously has nothing to fear. This guy really knows his stuff.
We cut to three SUVs (Max drives one too, they must have cut a deal with some auto maker). These are an ominous black, just so we know that bad guys are in them. Inside one of them, the bespectacled goon Zhukov flicks a switch. A secret panel on the roof of the SUV opens up, revealing a silly looking gizmo of some sort.
Next he (again in about three seconds) calls up all of Kate’s bills and DVM info and news articles about her and so on. “I can tell you what size panty hose she wears,” he smugly asserts. “We know more about her than she does!” Kazak reacts to this with an evil and arrogant grin. Bwahahaha!
Back to the ranch. The Two Deadmeat Cops (2DCs, from here on out) start bitching about who will pay for dinner. This seems a little silly, as you’d think that the department would be picking up the tab in this situation. Also, do you generally order in when on safe house duty? Anyway, Kate, tired of their whining, offers to pay for dinner herself. I think we can all see where this is leading.
Max comes in and checks on Kate. (Who’s sitting right in front of some unobscured windows, by the way. Only these face the back of the building, so I guess that they’re OK.) At one point, he rather laughably declares that “Whoever’s after you, they’re real pros.” Oh, yeah. I’m very impressed with what I’ve seen so far. Then the scene plays out, revealing Kate to be frightened but spunky, and Max to have a sensitive side, etc. Yawn!
Max tells Kate that she can take a shower in the next room. This again tantalizes the audience with the idea that maybe some nudity is coming up. Again the film fails to deliver. In fact, despite the fact that we see her turn the water on, she doesn’t even shower in this scene.
Kate’s soon using her credit card to pay for the pizza (!!), which gives her location away to the Russians. Because, you know, they have a computer. (Again, if their location was meant to be a secret, would the cops have rolled up to the front door in three police cars all using their lights and sirens?) Meanwhile the 2DCs are standing guard by sitting directly in front of the glass doorways, right where they can be easily seen and shot.
In another room, Max is taking his own shower. Meanwhile, the Russians intercept the pizza guy. “My pizzas are getting cold,” he yells. “Da. And so are you!” replies a goon, blowing the guy away. Gee, great line, Ivan. No wonder we won the Cold War.
The Russians send Rosa, their obligatory Sadistic Butch-Lesbian Looking Female (SBLLF), up to the door with the pizzas. Deadmeat Cop #1 goes to let her in. This tends to support my theory about not sending out for food while on safe house duty. “Hey, babe! If you were Dominoes I’d get a discount,” he non sequiturs (especially since he’s not paying for the pizzas anyway). “If I were Dominoes, you’d still be alive!” she retorts, blowing him away.
I’m telling you, there was evidently a significant Droll Quip Gap between us and the Soviets. Here, let me try. “Hey, who ordered the medium Cheese and Pepperoni with Extra Death?!”
OK, so maybe its not as easy as I thought.
Upstairs, Kate is watching TV. A war movie is on. I think that the footage of soldiers being mowed down is supposed to be ‘ironic.’ (Although ‘mo’-ronic is closer to the mark.) Man, with artistic flourishes like this, well, it only proves that the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences wouldn’t know a great movie if it bit them on the ass. Why, Fair Game wasn’t even nominated for a single award! I swear!! (Although it was nominated for its fair share of Razziesâ„¢.)
Anyway, here we go. Sure, Fair Game is pretty stupid across the board, but it’s this scene that earns it classic status. We our now mere seconds away from one of the most idiotic bits I’ve ever seen in a movie.
Kazak, back in the SUV, is equipped with a ‘scope that penetrates the walls of the hotel and reads body heat signatures. He radios Rosa that there are three people remaining in the building, and gives her their locations. OK, so they brought three truckloads full of goons – now that they know that there are only three targets in the building, why not send in five or six guys and just get it over with? (Answer: Because then our heroes would be killed.) Instead, they send in Rosa and two others.
Get ready for that bit I was warning you about. Deadmeat Cop #2 is urinating downstairs on the first floor. Finished, he flushes the toilet. We then we see Max, upstairs in a second floor shower, getting doused with cold water. (Man, that’s quite a plumbing system. I think I can see why this hotel went out of business! Besides, don’t you get doused with hot water when someone flushes the toilet?)
And then (I SWEAR!!) Max disappears off of Kazak’s body heat scope!! Because he got sprayed with cold water!! (This despite the fact that he then stays under the water after it warms back up.) You know, I’m no scientist, but I’m not sure that’s how ‘infra-red’ works.
As if that’s not enough, we are now treated to a major continuity gaffe. DC#2, having fulfilled his task of inadvertently turning Max invisible to infra-red, now walks out of the john. He sees the Russians and goes for his gun, but gets blown away. However, the Russians kindly wait a while, because the plot needs DC#2 to actually have his gun out of his holster before being shot. So the Russkies noticeably just stand there until his gun clears its holster, and then they shoot him.
Anyway, as he takes like a dozen squibs, er, hits to the chest, DC#2 fires some shots straight up into the ceiling. These shoot through the floor of Max’s shower, alerting him that mischief is afoot (literally). The problem? Less than a minute ago, when we saw everyone’s position mapped out on the infra-red scope, we saw that Max’s location was many yards down the hall from the bathroom where DC#2 was taking care of business. In fact, it was Kate who was located more or less above DC#2’s position. Yet, somehow the bullets end up shooting through the bottom of Max’s shower stall.
Max grabs his guns and strides naked from the bathroom. Kate, however, listening to the war movies, doesn’t recognize that shots were fired downstairs. Now, at this point, we have Max, a rather youngish police detective, facing off against a well-trained team (well, not really, but you knowâ€¦) of professional assassins. This is hilariously unlikely, especially since the script is too lazy to even imply that Max is an ex-Naval Seal or Green Beret or something.
Remembering that this is only an ‘R’ rated movie, Max ducks back in the bathroom and throws his pants on. At this point it’s over half a minute since DC#2 was killed, which seems like plenty of time for a team of killers to have made their way up one flight of stairs and taken care of Max and Kate. However, quick-thinking Max has the presence of mind to throw a convenient hair dryer into a toilet, blowing out the lights. (All the lights, by the way, not just the ones on the same circuit. Apparently, the same guys wired the place as installed the plumbing.)
Kate, however, still doesn’t know what’s going on. See, she’s dozed off with a cold compress over her face. (How convenient.) Meanwhile, our inept assassins are at a disadvantage because Max is still not registering on their body heat scope (!). Just then, though, the cold water wears off. Too late, as Max gets the jump on one of the guys and blows him away.
Rosa, stumbling down the darkened hall, happens to come across the strangely already opened fuse box. She throws a breaker at random without looking and brings the power back up throughout the building. This helps to distract the second professional killer, and Max shoots him. Kate, meanwhile, is finally awakened when the TV showing the war movie suddenly blares back on. (In another lame continuity error, the exact same explosion is now showing on the TV that we saw over three minutes ago.)
This all goes on for a while. The second Russian guy, we learn, is only wounded. This allows Max to kill him again in an extremely silly bit. Max then picks up a shell casing that he’ll undoubtedly be able to trace as being Russian later on in the film. Rosa, meanwhile, is inching down the hall. (I can’t help but notice that the brilliant Kazak, monitoring all this, has yet to send in reinforcements.)
Max foils pursuit by ingeniously locking the door to Kate’s room. Luckily, Rosa is apparently too stupid to stick her gun through one of the huge holes that Russian #2 blew through the wall with his shotgun. Instead, she swears nastily, checked by the masterstroke ‘locking the door’ gambit. She tries to kick it in, but it resists her efforts. Oh, yeah, all of the sudden the hotel has super-solid fixtures. Lucky for Max and Kate that the doors are so much better than the wiring and plumbing.
Of course, if Max had been keeping watch at this point, he could have fired through the door and shredded Rosa. Luckily for her, though, he’s smashing through the attached bathroom’s rear window. (They show this is tiny speeded-up cuts, trying to make it look ‘cool.’) By the time that Rosa has shot her way in, Max and Kate have made their escape.
Rosa jumps into one of the two black SUVs (uh, weren’t there three SUVS?). Kazak is enraged to learn that Kate has now picked up a protector. “She’s with a cop,” Rosa declares. (Just in case Kazak was wondering who else was in the Police safe house.) “And he’s very good. He killed our whole g*d-d*mned team!” Uh, yeah. At least the ‘whole team’ that consisted of the two people he shot.
Driving Kate off in his SUV, Max passes a convoy of police cars heading for the crime scene. Kate is bewildered when he doesn’t stop. “Those are police cars,” she notes, just in case Max the Police Detective didn’t understand that. Max, however, not knowing about the paying-for-pizza-with-a-credit-card fiasco, assumes that there’s (*yawn*) a leak in the department. Until this is wrapped up, they’re on their own. Boy, there’s some clever scripting, huh?
Max calls Meyerson, who yells at him from the center of the crowded squad room. Meyerson demands that Max come in, but he’s not buying. He wants Meyerson to call the Feds in. Meanwhile, the Russians are listening in on the call (they can do this, see, because they have a computer). This gives them Max’s name. Luckily, there’s only one ‘Kirkpatrick’ on the force. In fact, there’s only one ‘Kirkp,’ because that’s how Zhukov searches.
Two seconds later, they’ve tapped into the police department database and called up Max’s employment record. (They have a computer, remember?) Meanwhile, Louis tells Max to meet him “where I used to go on Friday nights,” and promises to bring the Feds. The Russians head to the police station, presumably so that they can follow Louis.
Max drives to another phone (that sly devil!), and calls his cousin Jodi, who works in the police lab. He tells her that he needs a make on the shell he picked up, which has a mysterious ’33’ on it. (Told ya!) “Yeah, like I need my beauty sleep,” she retorts. (I’d say that she more desperately needs ‘quipping sleep,’ myself.) She tells him to call back later.
Max pulls into an airport parking garage. Louis used to moonlight here as a security guard. Meanwhile, at the station, Louis is meeting Agent Baker of the FBI. Then back to Max and Kate, who head for the rendezvous spot. Kate almost pauses to stop a shouting mother from (*gasp*) lightly spanking her daughter. (When will this kind of horror ever end?!) Max, however, reminds her that they have to remain ‘inconspicuous.’ (Yeah, a woman that looks like Crawford should have no trouble not calling attention to herself.)
Louis and the FBI guys arrive at the Airport parking garage. Louis jumps out and talks with Max. By the way, Max is now wearing a T-shirt with the U.S. Marine seal on it, one that he had in his truck. I guess that that explains (well, not really, but you knowâ€¦) how he was able to outwit professional ex-KGB assassins.
Meanwhile, the three (three, two, threeâ€¦I wish they’d make their minds up) Russian vehicles arrive at the garage. Kazak gives orders to cover all the exits. Inside, Max is leading Louis and the Feds to Kate. Max and Kate enter the lead FBI car, Louis takes the following car.
However, the trailing car soon breaks off. The driver shoots Louis right in the crotch (talk about adding insult to injury!), then in the neck. This sprays blood on the passenger side window, as you might expect. The odd thing is that in one shot before the shooting, even before the second car broke away from the first, we saw that there was blood already on the window! It then disappeared until Louis was shot. Then it came back again. Can you say, “continuity error”? Sure. I knew you could.
As you might have guessed (unless you live in Waco, Texas), these are not really FBI men. Nope, the Russians put in a quick call after learning that Louis was meeting Max and arranged for faux G-Men to show up at the police station with fake IDs. Man, good thing the real Feds didn’t show up, huh?! This also seems to imply that Kazak has a great deal more resources at his disposal than was earlier indicated.
Proving to be fully as good as the rest of Kazak’s team, the second car rejoins the lead car in such a fashion as to let Max see his dead partner. The idea was that the assassin would grab Louis’s head after putting a shot through his neck and haul him back up into a sitting position. To facilitate this, he had reminded Louis to put on his seatbelt and shoulder restraint. However, this brilliant plan went awry when he tried to grab Louis’ head, only to pull off Louis’ toupee. Our Hero’s attention is drawn to his slumping friend’s bald pate, and alerts him to the situation.
Of course, the blood all over the window might have given it away too.
Proving to be a cool hand, Max swears loudly and goes for his gun. Let me see if I can reconstruct the extremely unlikely events that follow. Max outdraws the fake Agent Baker and shoots him through the head. Then he, rather than shooting the driver, shoots through the car’s front window. This bullet plows into the rear of a parked van in front of them and causes it to explode (?!). This distracts the driver of the second car, who’s now in front of them (??!!) and who now crashes into the burning parked van (???!!!). Then, the car that Max and Kate are in plows into that car. Finally, the driver of Max’s car turns to grapple with him and gets shot. Got that?
Max and Kate run off while Max fires numerous shots into the front window of the second car, the one that Louis was in. Despite this, Louis’ killer soon crawls out and takes up pursuit. On the run, Kate sees the same woman still yelling at her kid and rushes up and smacks her a good one. This seems of dubious moral utility, but what do I know? (The woman should just be glad that she wasn’t smoking around her kid. Kate might have grabbed a baseball bat and beaten her senseless.)
Max and Kate reclaim his truck and leave the garage. He explains to her (and anyone in the audience who’s a moron) that those guys weren’t really FBI agents! Speaking of, why didn’t Max just drive to FBI headquarters in the first place, right after the safe house shooting? Why attempt to work through the department when he thinks that there’s a leak there?
Max pulls into a hotel where they can hide out. But, uh-oh! When Max asks Kate if she’s got cash, she replies that she has a credit card. Boy, if only they knew, huh? Or, if only they had the brains God gave an onion and figured out that perhaps the bad guys could trace them through her card and that it was best not to use it.
Inside the lobby, Max notices some Cyrillic writing on a multi-language welcome sign. Getting an idea (there’s a first time for everything), he calls cousin Jodi at the police lab. He asks her if the ’33’ on the shell could be, instead of numbers, letters in another alphabet. Jodi complements him on this intuitive leap. She tells him to call back again later, after she’s had time to check on this.
The Russians have picked up on Kate using her credit card and are on their way over. Max and Kate enter their hotel room, and he begins to question her, trying to figure out what’s going on. (If he does, he’s a better man than I, that’s for sure.) However, they are soon trading “I have to live with getting those cops killed!” speeches. Kate tearfully heads off for her long delayed but still nudity-free shower.
Max calls Jodi again. Luckily, she’s found what he’s looking for in the five minutes since he last called. Jodi informs him that the shell is a very specific KGB issue. Apparently, Kazak thinks it’s a good idea to issue his team weapons that will identity who they are. Couldn’t he have bought more generic stuff on the black market? Jodi then gives a hilariously detailed speech on how these guys are the Super-SpOOks of the old Soviet union. She’s apparently a very quick study.
She also informs him that they have a computer, and so can do anything. “That’s why the Federal IDs were so perfect,” Max exclaims. “They must have done it with computers!” (?!) Yet despite all of Jodi’s yammering about not leaving an ‘electronic trail,” Max is too dense to figure out the whole ‘credit card’ thing.
He does, however, come to the conclusion that the Russians have been trailing them through “phone lines.” At that moment, the phone rings. It’s Kazak, offering him half a million bucks to turn over Kate. Of course, Our Stalwart Hero declines this base offer and hangs up. Thenâ€¦
OK, this next bit’s really stupid (again), so let’s see how to describe it. Max decides he wants to tell Kazak off. So he picks up the phone and dials a random number, knowing that the Russians are listening in on his calls. He then begins to berate Kazak in an extremely foul-mouthed fashion. However, the random number he dialed was to a convenience store. This is picked up by a foul-mouthed black salesclerk. (Pretty much everyone in a Joel Silver film is foul-mouthed, so this isn’t that unusual.)
This sets up some more of the film’s atrocious ‘comic relief.’ Max starts calling Kazak all kinds of names (‘mo-fo’ and other favorites). Meanwhile, the black guy, thinking that Max is yelling at him, responds in kind. For instance, when Max tells Kazak “You’ll never get the girl,” the black guy responds, “I already got your girlâ€¦I [past tense form of a crude slang term for sexual intercourse] her last night!” And so on. Hilarity ensues.
Max tells Kazak that he’s going to kill him and his whole team. I thought Kazak would respond by saying “That would be a neat trick.” See, that was the line actor Berkoff used on Eddie Murphy in Beverly Hills Cop. Instead, Kazak angrily replies that “You have no idea who we are!” Gee, there’s an original line. Kudos to the screenwriters.
Max tosses a bit of Russian at Kazak, alerting him that he knows their identities. “Clever bastard!” Kazak snarls. (Proving that Kazak’s motto as an assassin isn’t ‘Know your target.’) Zhukov, meanwhile, remote turns off the hotel’s lights and locks all the hallway doors on the floor where Max and Kate’s room is. (See, he has a computer.)
Max blows the lock off the door. Lucky there was no one in the hall, given that he didn’t even shout out a warning first. Laughably, seeing that the Russians can remote control everything electronic in the hotel, Our Heroes decide to take the elevator (!). Given the circumstances, I’d have thought the stairs a more prudent choice, but what do I know? Our heroes are soon on the road.
Kazak and his team ponder how Max could have learned that they were Russians. (Next time, don’t issue your men Soviet weapons and ammo, Brainiac.) Meanwhile, Max stops for gas and, as a gag (literally), tosses his cell phone into a trailer truck hauling pigs and their, uh, resultant byproducts. This leads to a ‘funny’ bit (please, please, no more comic relief!!), as Zhukov notes that they’ve activated their phone and puts a trace on its location. Then, using satellites or something (see, he has a computer) he triangulates what he believes to be their position.
Speeding away from his ex-phone, Max is heartily laughing over his droll practical joke. “Pig [possessive form of crude slang for excrement] sure going to hit the fan,” he quips. Meanwhile, Kate takes advantage of this quiet moment to finally thank Max for saving her life. The two then gawk at each other, as sexual tension palpably smolders between them. Hmm, no, that’s not right. ‘Smolders’ means something like ‘ready to burst into flame,’ right? No, I mean the opposite. Like a fire that’s gone completely dead. Or an attempted fire so sodden that it never started up in the first place. More like that.
The ‘comedy’ is completed when we see the Russians rousting the sleeping truck driver to open his truck. Stumbling around amongst the swine, the Villains are infuriated to find the remains of Max’s phone. Then we cut awayâ€¦
â€¦presumably before the Russians slaughter the truck driver, given that he can now identify them. I assume that they skipped showing us this scene because the audience might have blamed Max for the guy’s death, seeing as he’s the one that drew the Russians to the guy.
Meanwhile, Max and Kate are taking a stretch out on a beach. The sun is shown rising, causing us to think, “Has it really only been one day?” Not ‘only one day’ that the film’s events have taken place in. I mean as an audience member watching this film. It certainly seems like we’ve been watching this turkey for quite a bit more than a mere twenty-four hours.
Anyway, chaps, time for more idiocy. Max asks Kate if she has any cases involving Russians. No, she replies, only Cubans, Hispanicsâ€¦ Max, though, being a detective and all, deduces that a case involving Cubans might somehow tangentially involve Russians. Kate says that if she can access her office computer, she can run a search. Max vetoes this, saying that they’re not going back to Miami. Kate, though, slyly says that that may not be necessary. (Uh oh. ‘Comedy’ Alert! Danger, Will Robinson!)
The Russian Convoy is shown driving down some rural roads, for no apparent reason. Zhukov, meanwhile, has learned (see, he has a computer) that Max has a ‘Car Trac’ locator on his vehicle. Max is not coming off as tremendously bright at this point. First he presumably gets the trucker killed, then this. Oddly, we’re told that it’ll take time for Zhukov to break through the encryption and trace Max’s truck. Yet he was able to break into secure government databases in under five seconds. Oh, well, IITS.
Max and Kate pull into the parking lot of a computer store. Kate fluffs up her suspiciously clean hair and enters the store. Inside are two men, one a hectoring manager, the other Adam, a nerdy (there’s a fresh idea) salesclerk. The actor playing Adam looks almost exactly like Conan O’Brien sidekick Andy Richter. This would no doubt worry him more if he had any reason to believe that someone would be watching this film in the future.
Kate enters the store, tilting her hips and cantilevering her torso all around in a suggestive fashion. Since Kate looks like Cindy Crawford; and since I think we can safely assume that no woman has ever entered this store before; and since this film is so juvenile; her effect on the staff is about exactly what you’d think. See, Kate’s a high-powered attorney, but she’s not afraid to shake the goods when it’s necessary. And since the Plot-O-Matic 3000â„¢ has apparently called for some ‘comic relief,’ wellâ€¦
Learning to his regret that Kate wants to deal with Adam, the Manager rather conveniently leaves the store. Of course, since Adam is a colossal nerd (because he works in a computer store – did you get that part?), he stutters and blushes as Kate issues forth some extraordinarily lame double entendres. Explaining why she asked for him, Kate huskily coos, “I thought I’d be in better hands with you.”
OK, now imagine all the really lame computer/sex references you can. No, wait. Don’t bother, because the screenwriters already did. Right off the bat, Kate asks what he’s doing at his computer, to which Adam innocently replies, “fiddling with my joystick.” Then he clumsily knocks a cup of pencils over. (Because he’s a nerd who works in a computer store – did you get that part?) It goes on from there, getting more and more painful as the scene interminably drags on. Oh, and there’s a ‘sultry’ sax piece playing in the background to underscore the proceedings. Although you’d no doubt figured that part out already.
Kate, it proves, is interested in “hardware.” (Kill me know, please.) Upon hearing this ‘sexy’ word issue from Kate’s mouth, Adam all but passes out. “I was hoping to demo your unit,” she continues. (Please. Somebody. Kill me.) At this, Adam’s glasses fog up.
“Well, I’d have to boot up first,” he stutters. Although this isn’t really a double entendre, since ‘booting up’ has little or no sexual connotation, it’s played like one. The screenwriters apparently figured, and quite correctly, if I’m any judge, that no one in the audience would expect anything to make sense by this point. Adam begins trying to act suave, but pokes himself in the eye while trying to put his glasses back on. (FOR HEAVEN’S SAKE! SOMEBODY!! KILL ME!! PUT ME OUT OF MY MISERY, YOU CALLOUS BASTARDS!! YOU WOULDN’T LET A DOG SUFFER LIKE THIS!!!)
Cut back to the Tortuga. (Remember?) The Bad Guys’ computers have finally managed to locate the junction box. (Don’t ask me – that’s what the flashing graphic on their computer screen says.) Then we cut to scuba divers fiddling with it, then back to the computer screen. “Junction Box Tap in Progress,” we learn. Yeah, that clears it up. A henchguy radios Kazak with this news.
OK, again, why are the Bad Guys chasing Max and Kate? Kazak notes that by tonight, if all goes well, they’ll be rich. Which means, again, that there’s no way that Kate’s legal actions could possibly interfere with their timetable. In fact, with Juantorena dead, his wife would now have to sue his estate to obtain any property. This would take, optimistically, months, if not years. Kazak, apparently, needs maybe twelve hours or so. If they broke off pursuit now, Max and Kate probably wouldn’t even stick their heads above ground for days to come.
But then the movie would be over, and the Bad Guys would have won. Which seems a reasonable compromise to me. Anyway, Zhukov excitedly reports that Kate’s using a modem. (He knows, because he has a computer.) See, her clever plan involves using the tongue-tied Adam’s computer to remotely connect with her office computer. Then she can check her case files and see if any might tie in with their current predicament.
Max walks in to urge her to finish up. Kate, meanwhile, hurriedly scans her client list. In an extraordinarily lame attempt to make this seem exciting, the director has the camera feverishly whip back and forth from Kate to Max and back again.
If you freeze frame, you can see that the case names (Guiterrez vs. Sanchez, etc.) are listed under the field name ‘Style.’ Then the type of case (Divorce, Child Custody, etc.) is listed under ‘Action.’ Huh? Of course, only one case has an ‘action’ longer than two words: The Juantorena file. This not only notes “Seizure of Community Property,” but mentions that the property to be seized is the Tortuga. This reminds me: Why did the wife want the Tortuga rather than the airplane and the ski house again?
Upon seeing the file, Kate immediately intuits that this is the cause of her problems. Max faxes Juantorena’s name to Jodi, so that she can run his rap sheet. Why not use the store’s phone for this? Because then there’d be no electronic trail for the Bad Guys to follow back to Max’s cousin. By now, the sheer stupidity of our lead characters has actually become somewhat infuriating. It’s deeply insulting for the film to expect us to cheer for these utter morons.
However, it’s not just their stupidity that’s off-putting. Kate, her work done, gives Adam a kiss and leaves with Max. Adam, of course, simpers horrifyingly at this minor display of affection. Then Max and Kate drive off, while putting all the pieces together. Back at the store, though, we see Kazak’s trucks come screeching into the parking lot. We quickly cut to Adam and the suddenly returned Manager being savagely beaten for information.
We momentarily cut back to Max’s truck. To ensure that the villains have time to catch up with them, we watch the radiator suddenly explode and disable his vehicle (?). IITS, I guess. Then back to the store, where Adam has called up his computer’s ‘transmission log.’ This, as expected, gives Kazak Jodi’s name and a traceable fax number.
We next see Max calling from a beach (again with the beaches!) for a mechanic. Then back to Kazak’s convoy, as Zhukov finally breaches the Car Trac database. I’m going to pause here, though. I want to get back to what I was talking about earlier, regarding what’s worse than Max and Kate’s stupidity.
Like I said, it’s insulting to be asked to root for idiots. Worse, though, is being asked to root for monstrously immoral idiots. Although the film tries to skirt this issue, you pretty much have to believe that Kazak has by now murdered at least three innocent people purely because Max and Kate heedlessly drew his attention to them. Presumably Jodi, Max’s cousin, is soon to suffer a similar fate.
The fact that the film never addresses this is even more galling. What, are we not supposed to have noticed that Max and Kate are leaving behind a trail of innocents for the villains to murder? And here’s another thing: It’s somewhat grotesque to create an elaborately harmless comedy relief character like Adam, and then imply that he’s suffered a horrible death because the film’s heroine decided to take advantage of him.
With the location of Max’s vehicle now pinpointed, Kazak orders Zhukov to again vainly try to kill our inept leads. Then he splits off with two of the three SUVs, as he “has my own little subtraction to do.” Oddly, no matter how many times his people fail to kill Max and Kate, Kazak never learns to send more than two or three people after them at one time.
Max hangs up the phone and returns to the truck. Kate, meanwhile, has found Max’s photo album. (Why is this in his truck? I guess we’re to assume that it’s because he tossed his stuff there after Rita dumped it all. However, if this were the case, the truck would be jam-packed with his gear, and we can clearly see it isn’t.)
By now, every additional indication of Our Heroes’ stupidity is like a nail driven into our foreheads. So we can only grind our teeth as Kate points to what is obviously a picture of Max and asks, “Is that you?” Hmm, a guy that looks just like Maxâ€¦in a picture in Max’s photo albumâ€¦uhâ€¦yep, it probably is. Oh, and to make it funnier, Max in this picture is grabbing his crotch. How droll.
Now comes the part of the film they were undoubtedly counting on to sell tickets. And yes, it involves Crawford taking her shirt off. Or does it? Kate goes to Max’s truck, which is increasingly becoming more like Felix the Cat’s Magic Bag, to grab a fresh tank top (?!). Through the carefully besmirched and befouled windows, we can see her breast in profile as she takes her old shirt off. However, the savvy film buff will here note that the top of Max’s truck is strategically blocking her face from view. In other words: Body Double City.
Now, I know that no woman is going to understand or believe what I’m saying here. The assumption will be that I’m petulant about not getting to see Crawford’s hooters. But, damn it, it’s the principle of the thing!
Look, the film advertised itself as a ‘steamy’ flick in trying to attract an audience. The poster art, in fact, (reused as the video cover) doesn’t show an action shot. Instead, it features Baldwin and Crawford in a suggestive pose, emphasizing the ‘sexiness’ of the movie.
So the film is pushing its (tame) sexiness over it’s (lame) action. And since that’s the basis on which they’re expecting us to pony up our dough, they should deliver on what they’ve promised. Say what you want about Madonna in Body of Evidence (and I certainly did), at least she came across with the goods. Crawford, meanwhile, obviously refused to. So why is she in this movie? It’s not like she’s actually providing us with a performance or anything. For Pete’s sake, where’s Shannon Tweed when you need her? Pia Zadora? Somebody?!
Cut to Jodi at the Police Lab, where she’s apparently been now for roughly twenty-four straight hours. We know that she’s doomed, because she’s the only person in the otherwise deserted (!) lab. Now, I’m not up on police forensics labs, but wouldn’t there be staff and some cops around? And when is this? This is seemingly not that long after Kate and Max were in the computer store. So it can’t be much past business hours. Given events yet to occur, this would be taking place, at the latest, at around six or seven in the evening. Would a big-city police lab really be deserted at this hour?
And how did Kazak get back to Miami so quickly? He was just shown as being right on top of Max’s position. Did Max drive around all night and day only to end up right back outside the city? Also, how come, if any time at all has passed, Jodi is only now calling up Juantorena’s record? And how come Kazak’s picture immediately comes up as a “known criminal associate.” Isn’t he some super secret spOOk? Should he really be, under his own name yet, in the Miami police database?
Amazingly, things now get even more imbecilic. (They could use this film to illustrate the principle of Infinity.) Jodi has stepped away from the computer seconds before Kazak’s picture appeared because he’s (*gasp*) buzzing for entrance to the lab. By the way, can someone explain to me why these guys can do everything except pick a lock?
So let me get this straight. Kazak is a known criminal, his picture in the database. So he’s decided to try to infiltrate a police forensics laboratory (emphasis on the ‘bor’ part) in order to whack a member of the police department. Do I have this correctly? Meanwhile, no one’s on alert, after fake FBI agents appeared at headquarters and following the murder of a number of police detectives. And no one, other than Jodi, is working overtime at the lab because of any of this. Furthermore, there’s no apparent Press activity on these events. Does that about sum it up? Cripes! Who wrote this crap?!
Displaying his amazing spOOk abilities, Kazak, complete with badge, represents himself as an Internal Affairs detective and demands entrance. He cleverly disguises his British accent (although, again, he’s Russian) with an extremely thick Joe Pesci-esque Brooklyn accent. (In Miami?!) He sounds like he’s auditioning to play the comic relief member of a spaceship crew in a ’50s sci-fi picture.
Now Jodi proves just as unrelentingly stupid as every other character in the movie. She’s warned her cousin, repeatedly, not to leave any sort of electronic trail. So you’d have to think that she’d be on guard after seeing that her moronic relative sent her an e-mail. Also, she’d have had to, and I mean have had to, heard about the fraudulent FBI agents with fake IDs who later murdered a police detective. Even if she didn’t, she’s aware that super-spy/assassin types are running around. Hey, Jodi, here’s a hint: Pick up your damn phone and call in to IAD and see if this guy’s a real detective or not.
We cut back to Max’s car. See, by always cutting away, we never actually see Kazak kill Jodi, or the Truck Driver, or Adam and his boss. And since we’re obviously considered by the filmmakers to be dolts, if we don’t actually see their deaths, maybe we won’t stop to think, “Hey, aren’t all these deaths the direct result of negligent actions taken by our lead characters?”
I’m sorry if I’ve lost my professional decorum. But really, how often are we supposed to let this stupid movie spit into our faces? And it just keeps going. We now see that the script had Max’s radiator go kablooey not just to slow him down, but to necessitate a tow. As the SUV is hoisted up by the tow truck driver, Max spots a seemingly VCR-sized box with a flashing red light on the underside. Somehow I doubt that a real-life car tracking device is that obvious, but they want to make sure that we ‘get’ it. Max suddenly realizes (*yawn*) the danger they’re in.
OK, not to beat a dead horse, but what are the time and distance elements here? Just a bit ago, Kazak’s team was seemingly right on Max and Kate’s ass. The way things were edited indicated that they showed up at the computer store not long after Our Heroes left. Soon after that, they broke into the Car Trac database and ascertained Max’s location.
At that point, Kazak split off and drove back to Miami to kill Jodi. As we know, he’s arrived there. So how is it possible that the others haven’t yet reached Max and Kate? Everything seems to indicate that Max is quite a distance from Miami. So how come Kazak is at the Lab, dressed in a fresh suit and sporting a Miami Police Department badge (are we supposed to believe that he had these with him in his truck?) while his henchmen are still in the process of hunting down the stranded Max and Kate?
Anyway, as you might have guessed, it’s time for another lame action sequence. Max hurriedly hauls Kate into the tow truck and orders the driver to get going. However, the guy refuses to leave until he’s paid. “A hundred dollars, pay up front.” (Get ready for comedy!) Just at that second, the Bad Guys’ SUV, led by Zhukov, appears, spraying bullets. “Fifty dollars, pay later,” the driver decides.
Kate pushes the fellow out of the truck (this looks pretty phony, as Kate’s obviously much too scrawny to move this rather beefy individual) and hits the gas. (*yawn*) Kate maneuvers the truck, still hauling Max’s SUV, out onto the highway.
The Russians recklessly pursue, ‘excitingly’ smashing into other cars. This, of course, looks absolutely ridiculous, as it seems patently unlikely that a tow truck trailing another vehicle could outrun the Bad Guys’ souped-up truck. Meanwhile, the shot patterns from the Russians’ shotguns luckily stay tight enough to always miss out heroes and instead blow out their various windows. They also apparently never think to put a shot into Kate’s tires or engine block.
This continues about the way you’d expect. Kate and her pursuers end up driving down the wrong side of the road, cars peeling off in front of them. The Russians fire dozens and dozens of shots without managing to hit anything vital. Max leans out of the cab and fires back at them. He ‘dramatically’ slips and is whipped around while hanging off of the truck’s door. A semi-trailer truck cuts across in front of them, almost causing a crashâ€¦yawn. Things aren’t helped by periodic super close-ups of Zhukov spittling lame instructions into the camera. “Faster!” “Shoot him!” “Shoot that son of a bitch!” “Watch out for that truck!”
Unfortunately, there’s yet more. Max climbs back to release his truck into their path. However, they hit a bump, causing Max to turn into a stunt man and get thrown (in slow-motion, of course) onto the hood of his SUV. His gun flies away but nestles in the SUV’s luggage rack. Now Max is whipped around while hanging off of his SUV instead of the tow truckâ€¦yada, yada.
Zhukov, at least, provides some entertainment by angrily shouting “It’s only a woman driving the car! Shoot her!” And she’s driving like it, too. Going down the wrong side of the road, driving on the shoulder, smacking into other people’s cars. Heck, she does everything but stick her hand out the window to dry her nail polish. Meanwhile, Kate gets her own stupid line. Yelling to Max (who couldn’t possibly hear her), she warns him, “They’re behind you!” Yeah, thanks for the update.
Let’s continue: Max reclaims his gun. He knees in a window to crawl into his SUV. A Russian bullet (you knew that this was gonna happen) causes the rear of the SUV to explode (?). Luckily for Max, though, all the flames just shoot backward. Max then kicks out the windshield. (Good thing he went with the optional candy glass windows for his truck.) Here, they cut in a quick shot from the front of the tow truck. In this shot the SUV pretty clearly isn’t on fire. Nice continuity, folks.
Anyway, Max jumps back onto the tow truck just ahead (*yawn*) of a minor explosion. Then he rather unconvincingly frees his SUV by whacking on the towing mechanism with a hammer (where did that come from)? However, the SUV is still trailing them via a steel cable. Max yells to Kate to speed up, warning that “it’s gonna blow!” I’m not sure how he would know that, unless he’s relying on the propensity of movie automobiles to explode at the slightest provocation.
Zhukov’s truck finally gets in front of them and screeches to a halt. A henchguy then steps onto the road and aims a rocket launcher (!) at Max and Kate’s approaching truck. However, Max has Kate slam onto the brakes. This results in the still attached (yeah, right) flaming SUV to whip around in an arc. It then smashes into, first, the rocket launcher guy, and then the truck. (Insert of Zhukov screaming “NOOOOO!!!” Wouldn’t a Russian, at the moment of death, be more likely to yell “NYEEEETT!!”?) One of the vehicles must have fueled up with Atomic Gasolineâ„¢, given the insanely large resultant explosion.
By the way, we earlier saw Kazak’s SUV split off with one of the other two trucks to go take care of Jodi. Meanwhile, the third Russian SUV continued on to find Max and Kate. (Again, why wouldn’t Kazak send both of the other trucks on this job?) The thing I don’t get is that Zhukov was clearly shown to be in Kazak’s truck when they separated. So how the heck did he end up in the truck that just got blown up?!
Kate starts freaking out. This requires Max to (oh, brother) handcuff them together so that she can’t take off without him. Then they steal a car. (The owners, along with other drivers, had been shown screeching to a halt after Zhukov’s truck went boom. They then not only got out onto the road to examine the carnage, but managed to do so during a literally two second reaction shot of Max and Kate.) Since this is a movie, they end up taking a gorgeous old convertible (uh, oh). Hey, heroes have to drive in style, am I right?
Kate, now calmed down (according to the dialog, it’s not like we can tell from Crawford’s ‘acting’), demands that Max remove the handcuffs. Only, giggle, giggle, we learn that the key was on his key ring, left in his now atomized SUV. Oh, Max, what predicament will you end up in next?!
Max parks the car, and uses his gun to blow apart the chain linking the cuffs. (In real life, wouldn’t that tear up your wrists pretty badly?) Kate then pushes him over and takes off running. Why is she running? I don’t know. IITS. Maybe she’s supposed to be trying to save Max, since the killers are after her, not him. I don’t know. Does it really matter, at this point?
Kate ends up running alongside a freight train which is conveniently passing by. She grabs hold and jumps aboard. Max, having missed the train, jumps into his stolen car and (that’s right) follows in pursuit. He’s soon alongside, as close-ups of the speedometer record his velocity at over seventy and then eighty miles per hour. (Uh, would a freight train really be traveling quite that fast?)
Next comes a bit destined for the Moronic Stunt Gag Hall of Fame. Max steadies the wheel of the fast-moving car and then sidles over to the passenger’s side and prepares to leap for the train. (Luckily, the freight car Kate hid in has an open doorway. At least it does now. It didn’t earlier.) For added ‘excitement,’ Max has to get back to the steering wheel to avoid hitting a phone pole. Man. Whew. How thrilling.
Anyhoo, while heading right towards a train warning signal, Max leaps at the very last second! The car smashes into the signal device and of course goes up like a petroleum factory built out of nitroglycerine bricks. (Any time they introduce a classic car into an action film, you know that it’s going to get demolished.) Then we see Max, in ultra-cool slow-motion, mind you, diving into the freight car.
Bad Continuity fans, meanwhile, will want to watch this entire sequence in slow-motion. Note how the position of Max’s car vis-a-vis the train shifts with every edit. Note how the phone polls are more numerous in long shots than close-ups. Note how we are clearly shown Max jumping to the freight car and landing on his feet. But then, when they replay the jump in slo-mo after the explosion, he’s flying in head first. Note how the automobile (obviously attached to the train) for the jump is maybe two or three feet from the train. Yet when it then immediately smashes into the signal, it’s easily over a dozen feet away.
The train continues on, its crew apparently unperturbed by the huge fireball erupting off their side. Kate runs up to Max (from a position that doesn’t match a shot from a second ago and wearing a shirt that consistently goes from white to a stained dirty gray shot by shot) and slaps him in the face for his stupidity. They start tussling, and then she hauls off and punches him in the face. (See, it’s cute when women punch men, but monstrously evil when men punch women.) This violence, needless to say, signals the imminent (*yawn*) eruption of their simmering sexual tension.
He laughs and she socks him again. Despite the fact that both these blows were directly to his bony face, Kate amazingly sustains no damage to her hand. (Kids, don’t try this at home!) Soon they’re ‘passionately’ kissing, much to the general nausea of the viewer. But this promised sex scene, after all, was the entire rationale behind abandoning the ‘buddy movie’ structure for this flick.
Resting against the hood of a convenient automobile (that’s what’s in the freight car), Kate squirms on top of Max. Then we cut to a helicopter. (Don’t ‘worry,’ we’ll get back to our leads presently). This contains Rosa and some miscellaneous henchguys. Where the heck are these guys getting all this stuff?! (Can I also point out here that we’ve seen zip, I mean, zero indication of any police presence since the murder of Max’s partner in the garage the night before.)
In an extraordinarily lazy bit, the helicopter pilot notes that Our Heroes’ car (the stolen one, of which these guys would know nothing) isn’t on the highway. From this, he just more or less guesses that they must have either taken a side road or “jumped the train.” (You know, the one they can’t see from the helicopter.) Since the movie’s finally heading into its last twenty minutes, Rose intuitively (well, she is a chick) opts to check out the train. You know. The one Our Heroes only got on to because Kate was trying to ditch Max.
Back to our (yuck) inevitable sex scene. And I do mean inevitable, at least in a IITS sense. Certainly, it’s completely nonsensical in terms of the actual film. Other than the fact that these two ‘characters’ are the leads of our picture and that they are both ‘hot’ (well, OK, Crawford’s hot), there seems little to indicate that these two would be having sex at this juncture.
Or ever, really. Crawford and Baldwin, on top of being rather untalented actors, utterly lack that sexual spark needed to make this scene (and, ultimately, the entire film) in any way believable. Sure, the movie’s tossed in some desultory flashes of their growing ‘attraction,’ but none of it has been in the least bit credible. Instead, Kate and Max come off like robots performing unmotivated actions simply because they’ve been programmed to do so. Which, when I think about it, is a more accurate description than I had perhaps intended.
This scene, unsurprisingly, comes off pretty much like anything you might catch on one of Cinemax’s Friday night sex-a-thons. For instance, there’s the ‘atmospheric’ strobe lighting. One second it’s bright daylight, the next we see the sun going down. Thus the action is ‘erotically’ lit as passing lights illuminate things. (One might also posit that this lighting scheme is meant to help disguise the inserts of Ms. Crawford’s body double.)
Then there’s the inevitable ‘sultry’ saxophone music. (Could we ban sax music from sex scenes for, say, the next hundred years or so?) And the exaggerated writhing. From the actors, I mean, not the audience – our writhing is anything but exaggerated. There’s the ridiculously uncomfortable surroundings, the fakey little moans of passion from Crawfordâ€¦well, you get the idea.
Meanwhile, Rosa’s contingent arrives on the scene. (See, the danger increases the eroticism of the sex. Get it? No? Me either.) Again using their ridiculous Thermal Scope, they ascertain that the train is carrying our heroes. We cut back to our leads, now sprawled across the hood of a car, unconvincingly pretending to have sex.
Back and forth we go. Sex, approaching killers. Approaching killers, sex. One obvious bit is when Kate, while undressing Max, reaches into his pants and pulls out hisâ€¦pistol. This is focused on as Kate carefully lays it on the car hood to her right. (And where it will stay, despite the hood being slanted and the rocking of the car soon to occur.)
Unbelievably fast (although if it more quickly ends the ‘sex’ scene, then I’m not complaining), a random bad guy appears in their freight car. Now, their scope has identified our heroes’ position (not that position, you perverts). So I’m not sure why only one of the four bad guys we saw landing on the train now appears in their freight car. Oh, wait. I get it. Because otherwise our leads would actually get killed.
In a shot I truly never wanted to see, the laser sighting dot from the bad guy’s rifle plays across Baldwin’s bare ass as he (or his body double) fake-humps Crawford or her body double. Here our heroes, if not the viewers, catch a break. Despite being a rigorously trained professional assassin, the killer pauses to watch the action. (He certainly has more interest in doing so than I.) By the way, at this juncture Crawford allows Baldwin to push up her shirt and actually shows her breasts for a second or two. Yeah, now the movie’s been worth it.
Kate spots the laser dot playing across Max’s head (at an angle inconsistent with the assassin’s position). We see the killer finally begin to carefully tighten his finger on the trigger. However, his slowness (surprise) allows Kate to grab the previously established pistol and blow him away. Given the position of the gun to Max’s head when she does so, by the way, he should be at least partially deafened. This begs the question, if the killer was close enough to be shot with a handgun by the novice Kate, why was he bothering to use a laser scope? (Oh. Because otherwise our heroes would have been killed. Right?)
Kate and Max are kindly given time to get dressed before any of the other killers show up. Of course, despite Kate’s recently proven gun skills, they don’t bother to grab the assassin’s rifle so that she can also have a weapon. Another henchguy enters the freight car. Max is soon grappling with him, which sends them both flying from the cargo car. We next see, and this is really stupid, that Rosa has grabbed Kate. For some inexplicable reason, Kate is hustled into their copter rather than just being killed. Why? Why would they kidnap Kate instead of just killing her?
In fact, they rather lamely try to justify this by having Kazak, over the radio, noting that he has to interrogate her before killing her. This despite the fact that they’ve been trying to murder her at every point up to now. Max, meanwhile, hears all this. See, while the Bad Guy was killed in the fall from the moving train, his tied-in cell phone was completely unharmed. Whew, that’s handy!
Even handier is when Kazak asks for the pilot’s position, allowing Max to overhear him reveal the Tortuga’s location. (Is this the kind of thing they’d talk about over the radio?) Then, still handier yet, the bad guy who fell out of the train proves to have a map, allowing Max to trace the ship’s whereabouts. Boy, Dame Fortune’s smiling down so hard on Max that she must be getting muscle cramps in her face.
Max takes the guy’s body, and is quickly shown in another stolen car. Then, using the bad guy’s cell phone (yeah, he’s a regular Brainiac, all right), he attempts to call Jodi. There, Kazak has left a smart-ass answering machine message which allows Max to hear him executing her. The camera pans down to show her body. Amazingly, no one has yet appeared at the police laboratory to find her body.
We cut to the Tortuga. The scuba divers are continuing to work on the ‘juncture box tap.’ Rosa shows up with Kate, allowing Kazak to do a James Bond Villain routine and fill in the gaps in the plot. (At least the ones that haven’t been particularly noticeable.) Anyway, it’s all about accessing secret bank accounts or something. As soon as the Juncture Box Tap is established, his evil scheme will come to fruition. Which, again, means that nothing Kate could have done could possibly have interfered with his plans. The courts just don’t move that fast.
Max follows the map to Downs Bay, where the pilot revealed the Tortuga to be. He arrives next to a scenic lighthouse. Back on the ship, Kazak is still pointlessly explaining to Kate (and us) why her legal actions were supposedly dangerous to him. Then he reveals a silly looking bomb, complete with flashing lights and clock read-out. Kate and the Tortuga are to be blown to bits as soon as Kazak has the bank codes.
The Juncture Box, meanwhile, has been successfully tapped. Now they merely need to electronically transfer the funds. Again, this would be roughly a day and a half after Kate informed Juantorena’s lawyer that she was intending to instigate proceedings in Maritime Court. I’m sorry to keep harping on this angle, but really. When you spend tens of millions of dollars on a film, shouldn’t the central plot device be at least somewhat credible?
Max’s taunting voice now sounds from a conveniently nearby cell phone. Silver apparently thought that ripping this bit off from Die Hard was kosher, since he also produced that movie. “It’s the cop,” one thug helpfully exclaims, just in case we didn’t ‘get’ it. This despite the fact that said thug was one of the guys who was on the boat the whole time, and thus would have no way of recognizing Max’s voice.
Max wants Kate back. Kazak promises that if he doesn’t interfere for the next four hours, she’ll be left “where she is.” Like many movie villains, Kazak is too suave to simply lie. Of course, he means that, unknown to Max, she’ll be left on the boat with the bomb. Boy, you just can’t trust these guys!
Kazak figures out Max’s location (the cell phones have a short transmitting range) and sends Rosa and one other guy to yet again attempt to kill Max. Their boat soon arrives on the beach near Max’s car. We can see Max through the dirty car window. (All car windows in this movie are strategically dirty when necessary.) Walking right up to the car, they open fire.
However, ha ha!, it’s not Max in the front seat, but rather the body of their dead comrade. Seeing this, the assassins just stand there stupidly, rather than hitting the ground and fanning out. This allows Max to pop out of hiding and blow them away.
Still, Max is an idiot too, a fact we’ve had ample evidence of. Even a normal person would at this point walk up to the prone bodies and put a bullet into their foreheads. Max, however, just checks them out and finally notices that Rosa is wearing a smallish bulletproof vest. (Max is a pretty good shot, to fire two pistols simultaneously from maybe twenty or thirty feet away, at night, and yet group the three bullets that hit Rosa within a few inches of each other.) Gee, what’ll happen now?
Rosa kicks Max and knocks him over. She then delivers the kind of multiple kicks to the chest that would drive the ribs of any non-movie-hero into their vital organs. Max is a movie hero, however, even if not a particularly good one. He is thus able to retaliate after taking perhaps twenty savage blows, any one of which would kill or disable your average person. Needless to say, Rosa is soon dead. Typically, however, more because of her own incompetence than any seeming skill on Max’s part.
Back on the ship, we learn that the funds transfer is now beginning. (Didn’t they begin this before Rosa boated out to the beach and attacked Max? Does an electronic transfer of funds, once you have the necessary codes, really take this long to accomplish?) Kazak looks on approvingly as roughly a billion dollars is readied to be transferred to his account.
Max, however, is at this moment boating to the Tortuga. Wearing the bad guy’s scuba suit and with Rosa lashed upright in the boat, Max again surprises the crew. He quickly kills two of them and boards the ship. He then walks through the interior, occasionally shooting any of the Russians who randomly pop out like in a video game. At this point it’s getting even harder to believe the ‘super-assassins’ thing.
The one guy who (*yawn*) thrillingly manages to catch Max off guard, of course, punches him rather than shooting or stabbing him. Max is quickly overcome and dragged at gunpoint into the main chamber. There he sees Kazak and Kate, who’s bound to a post by her hands. He and Kazak then engage in an even lamer than usual debate on the nature of Evil. (“I can’t afford a conscious,” Kazak swarmily notes, while the audience posits that it can’t afford to be conscious at this point).
Kazak orders the henchguy to kill Max. Unsurprisingly, though, the underling violates Ken’s Rule of Guns and is quickly dispatched. Kazak draws his own weapon, but also ignores KROG and gets much too close to Kate. She kicks him so hard that he turns into a stuntman and lands on the table holding the bomb. This starts its three-minute timer. (Good bomb construction there!)
Max chases Kazak off with gunfire, then frees Kate. They run topside but strangely find the hatches sealed (?). Kazak, meanwhile, proves still to be in the hold, spitting blood, so apparently Max managed to hit him. Meanwhile (*yawn*) we occasionally cut to the bomb timer counting down. Because, you know, it’s suspenseful and stuff.
The funds transaction is nearly complete, we learn. All Kazak has to do is enter the type of currency he prefers and the transaction will be completed. (Personally, I wouldn’t go with the ‘Mexican peso’ option were I him.) This apparently takes quite a bit longer than you’d expect. Frankly, I’d probably disarm the bomb first and then take care of the money. But then, I’m not a super-villain.
Meanwhile, the ship proceeds to blow up a bit at a time, allowing our heroes to stay ahead of the blasts. Right at this point, Max suddenly (magically, really) manages to get the hatch open. He and Kate run just ahead of the explosions, which luckily proceed in sequence right behind them. Kazak, meanwhile, is still hunching over the computer. This seems a little odd, given the fact that his position is maybe ten feet from where the bomb exploded.
He’s waiting for the computer to slowly finish reading the menu of options so that he can enter his choice of currency. Yes, I’m sure that that’s how it works in real life. I suppose that this is meant as an ironic (or something) counterpoint to Max’s earlier frustration with his bank’s longwinded phone menu. This kind of ‘mirroring’ device is all the rage in screenwriting school.
Back up on deck, Max and Kate are running in slow-motion as a series of fireballs erupt directly behind them. Gee, that’s imaginative. (Given that the initial bomb blast didn’t outright destroy the ship, why would it set off this chain reaction of explosions? What’s on a freighter that would sequentially blow up like this?) They finally leap from the back of the ship as it’s consumed with flames. Then the Tortuga turns into a model boat and starts keeling over.
Max and Kate swim over to the conveniently drifting launch and climb aboard. The burned out wreck of the Tortuga, meanwhile, sinks into the briny deeps. Inside, we see Kazak (man, he’s one tough dude) going down with the ship, mere seconds before he gets to enter the code to transfer the money. Well, evil never pays, and all that. Besides, he should have accounted for the fact that selecting a currency would be the longer part of the operation.
Back in the launch, Kate and Max exchange some truly awful tough-guy romantic banter, which I will spare you. It’s like they know that we just want the movie to be over with and they’re purposely dragging things out. All bad things must finally come to an end, though: They kiss, we cut to the boat cruising across the water, and roll end credits. By the way, this is the first time I’ve ever wished I were Swedish. Their version of the film was five minutes shorter.
I knew this movie sucked from having once watched it in a cursory fashion. A more careful autopsy for this article, however, fully revealed its rather epic stupidity. Aside from competing for the title of Most Idiotic Studio Picture of the ’90s, the surprisingly large production budget’s not on the screen. I was actually angered and frustrated that a film that cost tens of millions of dollars would be so aggressive moronic. However, I was thinking in a range of around thirty million dollars or so. Instead, made in ’94 or ’95 (it was released in the latter year), according to the IMDB Fair Game cost over $50,000,000 to produce!! Fifty million!!
Given the faster-than-inflation rising costs of film production, that would equal roughly a $75,000,000 budget in 1999 terms. Then add whatever the prints-and-advertising costs were. In an act of cosmic artistic justice, Fair Game domestically grossed under twelve million dollars at the box office. Assuming that theater owners kept about half, less than $6,000,000 rolled back into studio coffers. I doubt that the video and DVD sales (yes, it’s on DVD) quite pushed the film into the black. Still, at least it managed to destroy the ‘movie star’ careers of both Cindy Crawford and Whichever Baldwin was featured here.
By the by, interested readers should check out the film’s IMDB listing. This includes a sizable list of flubs, many of which I didn’t even notice.
Cops, faced with the worst life has to offer on a daily basis, develop a sharp and earthy sense of humor as an emotional shield:
Max, reacting to his bank’s interminable automated phone message: “Is it a felony to shoot a computer?”
Louis: “Only in California!”
An intellectual battle of epic proportions, as Kate grapples with fellow super-lawyer Walter:
Walter, reacting to a photo of the ship his client is hiding: “Never heard of The Tortuga.”
Kate, springing her devilish trap: “I didn’t say the name!”
Walter, attempting to wriggle free with a masterful display of cunning: “Lucky guess?”