Some movies stand out due to stellar acting, others stand out due to unexpected plot twists, some even stand out for bringing taboo subjects to the fore. There are a number or festivals and awards shows to celebrate the achievements of those films. On the other side of the spectrum, there are festivals that celebrate the worst in film every year, such as The Razzies. However, there isn’t a single festival to celebrate movies that are almost that horrible, yet either so expensive to produce or involving people far too famous to flop, that they skate by just under the radar of the Razzies (or over the radar?). The result is comedy gold!
Unfortunately, the comedy is almost exclusively unintentional.
Such was the case with the Movie Fair Game (1995). Cindy Crawford and
Alec, Daniel, Stephen, William Baldwin really nailed it just barely completed it.
Have you ever wondered what would happen if you took a second rate model and a third rate actor, gave them a fourth rate script and 50 million dollars to make an action movie? Me either, but evidently someone wondered that very thing in 1995. And I, being a glutton for punishment, sat through every frame of the movie (which is not entirely true; I actually got up at one point to look it up on IMDB to see what year it was released, because I was laughing so hard at what was going on).
I would give you a spoiler warning but, let’s face it, I am the only one that has seen this movie in the last two decades, and there is no way in hell you are ever going to watch it –barring some evil mastermind forcing you to. So, let the fun begin.
To believe the plot of the film, you would have to either be mentally challenged, extremely young, or more likely both. There is a rogue group of former KGB elite operatives (sort of like James Bond, only the bad guys) who are out of work with the fall of the Soviet Union. Their retirement package sucked, so they needed to make a lot of scratch really fast. Being the experts they are in absolutely everything except marksmanship, they ultimately decided to electronically steal a whole bunch of money from someone’s (and it really doesn’t matter whose) bank account in the Cayman Islands. But the year is only 1995, and evidently technology has only advanced about as far as land based phone lines at this point, so the only way they can complete their mission is to splice into a phone line that is buried under the ocean -note that this is the most believable part of the plot.
Cindy Crawford plays some chick whose greatest contribution to the film was the flashing of her left breast. Thankfully though, she seemed to have had that trademark wart removed, or well hidden at least. She is the requisite damsel in distress in the film, but if you find yourself rooting for her in any way, you obviously had a way bigger crush on her than I did back in high school. The script calls for her to play a vapid pretty woman, which she pulls off remarkably well -with a real actress, you might not believe that she could really absolutely forget about her Cuban client (The one that she was discussing not ten minutes earlier), with Crawford, that seems absolutely possible. Which is really a good thing, since about ten minutes into the film you quit taking it seriously and start looking for comedy. Cindy provides. RottenTomatoes.com was rather generous with this film, rating it an impressive 3/24 fresh (One of the fresh ratings seems a bit dubious because it’s coming from someone who was obviously jerking off when he saw naked Cindy skin. He said, and I’ll quote, “Cindy sizzles….slicker than wet paint” complete with misused dots of ellipses and no closing punctuation.)
One of the reviews on Tomatoes seemed to have it just about right:
“Cindy Crawford, meet Action Movie. Action Movie, meet Box Office Death.”
— Scott Weinberg, EFILMCRITIC.COM
But it was not my intention to rip on Cindy Crawford… Well, I guess it was actually, but that was not my only intention so I have to keep going. I am going to give up entirely on bitching about the acting though, because honestly, if William Baldwin is getting first billing, the film is obviously not going to be winning any “best actor” awards.
The film starts out with Crawford being shot at by some guy for no damn reason. She ends up in a police station where is left in an interrogation room that is fully equipped with telephones, fax machines, computers -hell, if she was the bad guy she could have hacked into the pentagon with all the equipment there. This entire scene was actually all just a setup for the only joke in the movie -and possibly the worst joke I have ever seen in an action film- so I will give them a bit of leeway on this one. Of course the inept detective forgets to get his victim to sign a statement because the plot requires it.
In the hour or so that Cindy (no, I can’t call her by her character’s name. I honestly don’t know what it was) spent in the police station, the bad guys had been setting up her house with a bomb. Of course they used a bomb because that is the only way that they could absolutely guarantee that they would actually fail in their attempt on her life. This ingenious device was wired to her television, and blew up with such ferocity that it absolutely destroyed a 3000-4,000 square foot, two story house. Of course Cindy was not harmed in any way, not a scratch, not a bit of dirt or smoke from the Hiroshima-sized blast, not even scared (though that might have been her lack of ability as an actress more than an unintentional result). Of course William Baldwin is there to save her anyway! He stands flat-footed in the middle of an open driveway shooting his revolver at the van filled with machine-gun-toting baddies, manages to dodge around 3,000 flying bullets with nothing more than his looks, and dives into a swimming pool just in time to make enough noise to wake me back up. Asshole.
It is now clear to our heroes that there might be someone trying to kill Cindy. No one ever takes the first attempt on their life seriously, right? But when someone takes the time to turn your house into a mushroom cloud, you have to start thinking that maybe your dog messed on the neighbor’s lawn or something. So they needed to get away from Cindy’s H.O.A. as soon as possible since she can’t remember if she left her trash can out past dark the day before.
They end up in some hotel somewhere. She is under heavy police surveillance (especially while she is in the shower) at all times. But the cops get hungry, so they order some pizzas for delivery from the local pizza joint. Of course no one has any cash, so they use Cindy’s credit card (it was at this point that I went to IMDB to see what year the film was released, ’cause, I mean, come on. How stupid are we supposed to believe the police really are?). Somehow the bad guys manage to find them! Shocking!
The bad guys are using some pretty advanced thermal imaging technology. They are able to see people through the walls of the hotel in absolute perfect red silhouette. The thermal imaging technology is far from perfect though: It can only sense things that are exactly 98.6 degrees. While one of the heroes is in the shower, he completely disappears to the thermal imaging. So, is he showering in ice or what? Doesn’t the average person shower in water that is somewhere between 98.6 and 130 degrees? Why can’t the thermal imager pick up the hot water? Best not to ask. Still Willy Baldwin manages to kill three of the ex-KGB agents with nothing more than a smile and the scent from his Zest-fully clean underarms as weapons. He loses a few of his best friends in the encounter, but manages to drag Cindy out just before she gets killed -which is long after I had quit caring, but the next good infomercial was still an hour away.
The heroes stop at a payphone somewhere to call the police station, the phone line of which is already being monitored by the ex-KGB guys even though they don’t know at this point that Willy is a cop, and even if they did know, they don’t know who he is and would have no way of knowing which district he worked for. Willy thinks some of the cops are dirty because the were discovered so quickly at the hotel, it never crosses his mind that using the victim’s credit card might have tipped them off. He wants to get the FBI involved. He has figured out that the phone lines are being monitored and won’t actually say the location where he wants to meet them (the only intelligent thing any of the heroes does throughout the course of the entire film), and refers to it only as “that place that you used to go on Fridays”. Of course the guys monitoring the call show up at the station posing as FBI agents, even though no one ever actually called the FBI, and all of the cops believe them. So, off to the meeting place.
Slick Willy has hidden Cindy somewhere before the meeting (which I will not credit to him as an intelligent decision because of what he is about to do) and adamantly refuses to turn her over to the protection of the FBI without first seeing their credentials. One of the guys whips out an I.D. -it has a picture and everything- that says “Akshule FBI Agint Identefikashun Not Fak At All” (I am paraphrasing). That’s all Slick Willy needs to see, he frees Cindy from the back seat of his car! Clever hiding place, that. And no one questions it when the Akshule FBI Agints want to split everyone up to get Slick Willy and Cindy alone in a car with one of their operatives. All of a sudden, the Akshule FBI Agints turn! They aren’t really the FBI! They are the bad guys! (written as a five year old, since it was obviously written for a five year old) Slick Willy picks up on the clever ruse after the Akshule FBI Agints manage to take out another half dozen or so of his closest friends. Using nothing more than his flowing hair, Slick Willy kills another three or four of the elite ex-KGB guys to save the girl and make his escape. Which he cleverly makes in his own car. His own car that happens to have Lojack! (no kidding) -I dare you to try to make up a worse way for him to make his escape. Come on, just try. There has to be a worse way.
Anyway, the bad guys manage to stay hot on their trail. Even without the Lojack, it wouldn’t have been too difficult to follow them because, yes, they were still using Cindy’s credit card (I wonder if that was a prop credit card or if it was actually Cindy Crawford’s personal VISA). To the surprise of only anyone who has never seen any movies, read any books, and has not been paying much attention to the first hour of the film, Slick Willy’s car breaks down in the middle of nowhere to allow the bad guys to catch up. He doesn’t think to even pop the hood to look at it, just calls a tow truck (with the cell phone that he now has even though he has been using only pay phones for the first half of the movie. Of course the bad guys don’t trace his cell phone for some unknown reason, which makes very little sense since they can trace any call he makes from any random pay phone on the planet, but try not to think about it.). When the tow truck arrives, Slick Willy notices the Lojack under his hood (which is just absolutely unbelievable in every way. The whole success of Lojack is that it is hidden well enough that experienced car thieves can not find and disable it. They don’t just strap that shit to the hood) and simply unplugs it (which is probably why they didn’t use Lojack’s actual name in the movie: Lojack would not want to be associated with that crap. In fact I wouldn’t doubt it one bit if Lojack sends me an email telling me to remove their name from this post or they will sue me for libel).
Where were we? Oh yeah, the bad guys show up with machine guns blazing. Slick Willy jumps into the tow truck, which is now pulling his Suburban, and takes off down the road, but Cindy is at the wheel. The ensuing chase reaches speeds in excess of like 20 miles per hour. The bad guys fire around 1,000 rounds that actually hit the tow truck (more like 6,000 total), not one of which manages to hit any of the tires, although it does somehow catch the suburban on fire. Slick Willy is hanging on the swinging passenger door, shooting single shots with sniper-like accuracy, and managing to kill all but two of his pursuers, all the while dodging hundreds of machine gun rounds using nothing more than his shiny t-shirt. Somehow the bad guys get ahead of them and stop in the middle of the road. They get out of the car and stand there. Because it doesn’t appear to have crossed their minds that firing thousands of rounds into the cab of the tow truck might have given Cindy and Willy the idea that they were trying to kill them. It never crossed their minds that maybe Cindy and Willy wouldn’t stop and would just run over them. Well, their gamble paid off. Cindy and Willy didn’t just hit them and end the film right there, instead they turned at the last minute to avoid killing the guys that they had just spent the last ten minutes trying to kill in a high speed car chase. Why? The boat hadn’t been blown up yet.
By the time they are on the boat, the movie itself even stopped taking itself seriously. They weren’t even trying to make the shoot-outs look real anymore. The actors were pretty much just blatantly aiming at all of the fuel barrels that were being stored in ship’s communications center (for no reason other than to make a bigger explosion. I bet if you were to ask the director of the movie he couldn’t give you a plausible explanation for why they would be there). The bad guys just have to hit one final key on the computer’s keyboard to complete the 700 million dollar transfer when the ship eventually blows up, three times. I want to be clear that this is not the same explosion from three camera angles, these are three completely separate explosions -one of which I am fairly certain wasn’t even the same boat. Soldier on. All of the bad guys are dead. In fact, every character in the film except for Willy and Cindy are dead -that is not an exaggeration-. It ends with Willy and Cindy kissing on the beach as they watch the ship burn. A good, solid happy ending. It sure is a good thing they don’t think about the dozens of friends that they lost in the last 24 hours or they might get depressed…
It never really explains why they want to kill the woman so bad other than to say that she knows the guy that owns the boat. That’s great and all, but just knowing who owns the boat doesn’t necessarily mean that she is going to know the ex-KGB guys that are somehow involved with that guy, also in a way that is never explained. Nor does it actually explain why anyone needs to die in the first place. In fact, had the bad guys not set out to kill anyone, they would have completed their diabolical plan at the same time and with a hell of a lot less trouble. I know action movies are just explosions and gunfights strung together with weak plots, but can’t they at least make the premise of the plot somewhat realistic? A four year old could have come up with something more believable.
They say that in order to enjoy a movie you have to be able to suspend your disbelief. There is no chain or cable in existence strong enough to suspend it for the duration of this film. If you have a stout chain, you will need to bind your disbelief, silence it with a ball gag, take it to a darkened basement, and put a couple of rounds through its temple. Then you might might be able to enjoy this one, but I really doubt it. I am actually a bit surprised that it only lost 40 million dollars.
All that being said, I think this is probably William Baldwin‘s best work.