My my my, what a mess to wade through in writing a review about The Fan, Robert De Niro and Wesley Snipes' hotly awaited new thriller set in the obsession-filled world of baseball.
The film is essentially one long study of dysfunction. Knife salesman(!) Gil (De Niro) is divorced, is on the verge of losing his job, doesn't know how to relate to his kid, shouts obscenities at his clients -- your every day run-of-the-mill psycho -- and is obsessed with the San Francisco Giants.
Bobby Rayburn (Snipes) is a $40 million golden boy outfielder, newly traded to the Giants, and is not earning his keep. He's batting in the .100's, is being upstaged by rival Juan Primo (Benicio Del Toro), can't get his traditional number 11 jersey, and has his own family problems. Nonetheless, he's still an egocentric jerk driven by greed, groupies, and fame.
When these two cross paths, it can only be trouble -- sure to make you reevaluate the phrase, "I want you to hit a home run for me."
There's plenty good and plenty bad in The Fan, and as I've said, trying to figure out where to start is a problem. Directed with Tony Scott's (Crimson Tide) well-crafted style, The Fan is often a fun and thrilling ride. The most fun to watch are De Niro and Snipes, who turn in very believable performances en route to the film's big finish.
But there's this problem that gnaws at the viewer the whole film -- that none of the characters are remotely likable. At all. Not even the supporting characters (Del Toro, John Leguizamo as Snipes's personal manager, Ellen Barkin as a sportscaster) are warm and fuzzy. Instead, everyone falls into the me-first trap that plagues the leads. The result alienates the audience into not really caring who wins this battle of nerves, much to the film's detriment.
Combined with sketchily-developed characters, some annoying dialogue, horrible editing that is used to intentionally trick the viewer, some glaring technical gaffes associated with the game of baseball, and a wholly inappropriate soundtrack (which somehow features almost every Rolling Stones song ever recorded), The Fan is a jumbled mess of good and bad. Thank God it has some fun.
Near the climax of The Fan, Wesley Snipes's character hits a deep fly ball. Everyone in the stadium waits in anticipation to see it clear the fence. The outfielder goes back back back -- no soup for you! That pretty much sums up the whole film.
No soup for me.