The Fan could have been terrific entertainment
While watching The Fan, directed by Tony Scott, I wondered how such a good cast and good director could have done such an awful job. It was really hard to watch this movie after I watched Crimson Tide because Crimson was such a terrific movie. This movie has to be one of the worst movies I have seen from 1996.
The Fan stars Robert De Niro, in probably his worst performance of his life, as Gil, a knife salesman (of all things) who loves baseball. He especially loves the Giants, and a single player, Bobby Rayburn (Wesley Snipes). In fact, he will do anything to watch the games, which includes putting his job at risk. His employer isn't satisfied with the numbers of sales that he is bringing in, mostly because he doesn't spend much time selling. But when he does try to sell, no one buys. As a result, he is fired from his job. This was one of the many things that cause Gil to lose his mind.
This setup of Gil's life was so poorly done that I could hardly watch it. The editing was horrible, the cinematography was very weak, and the acting was poor. We then get to see Bobby Rayburn's life. Wesley Snipes is the only reason that The Fan didn't get 1 star. Snipes does a good job of what he has of a role. Bobby suddenly is strucken down with a streak of bad luck. All of his "so called" fans lose hope in him and he starts to question whether he should continue.
While all of this is going on, a radio talk show host, Jewel Stern (Ellen Barkin), keeps calling up Bobby to talk to him on her show. Gil also calls up the show and talks to Bobby. Gil blames another player who has Bobby's favorite number (Number 11), Juan Primo (Benicio Del Toro). Bobby accidentally makes the mistake of telling Gil, in a jokingly way, that he should go talk with Primo. Gil takes him seriously and does so. He meets Primo in a sauna and tries to convince Primo to give his number to Bobby. When he refuses to do so, Gil stabs him in the leg which kills him.
The rest of the movie is better than the beginning, but not quite. There were so many unanswered questions, such as how did Gil become the umpire? (You'll know what I mean if you choose to watch this movie) There are a couple of tense moments, which shocked me, but for a thriller, this movie had almost no thrills at all. Perhaps in the hand of a different director, this movie could have been terrific. It had a good plot, good actors, and a good idea, but the execution was completely wrong. The script was very poor and considering that three people helped write it, that's pretty bad. You think that at least one of the writers would have some sense and realize that their script was a mess.
The Fan is rated R for strong language throughout and some intense violence. This is certainly a movie that kids should not see. This is even a movie that adults shouldn't see. I was very disappointed when watching this, because I expected more from a director who gave us such great thrillers as Cape Fear and Crimson Tide. I especially expected a lot more from Robert De Niro. This is by far one of the worst films of 1996.
*1/2 out of ****
Reviews by Boyd Petrie