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Fair Game (1995)  Print E-mail
DVD Action-Adventure
Written by Abbie Bernstein   
Tuesday, 30 March 1999



title:
Fair Game
studio:
Warner Home Video
MPAA rating: R
starring: William Baldwin, Cindy Crawford, Steven Berkoff
release year: 1995
film rating: Two and a half stars
reviewed by: Abbie Bernstein

Sometimes great craft is found in unexpected places. The sound on ‘Fair Game’ may well be its best asset. Explosions, gunshots, brake squeals are all precisely mixed and punched up so that they have maximum impact. A shootout in Chapter 10 has such powerful acoustics that when bullets hit the scenery, it sounds like steel pipes being rammed, one by one, end first through the walls.


However, the movie itself is not nearly as impressive. Based on a novel by Paula Gosling and scripted by Charlie Fletcher, ‘Fair Game’ plays like a TV movie that’s opened the floodgates on blood and language but still blithely disregards niceties like logic and plausibility. Cindy Crawford plays Miami divorce lawyer Kate McQuean, who finds herself targeted for assassination in Chapter 2. She rationalizes being shot at, so it takes having her house blown up (great sound effects, great pyrotechnics, silly-looking slow-motion jump by the hero) for her to accept that she needs protection. Homicide cop Max Kilpatrick (William Baldwin) is determined to help Kate, no mean feat given that the villains are aces at electronic surveillance.

‘Fair Game’ can’t make up its mind if it wants to be a gritty thriller or a James Bond romp. Thus there are sadistic, bloody killings by the bad guys, juxtaposed with impossible saves -- not once but several times, Kate and/or Max are blown to safety by the force of a detonation that incinerates a building. The Russian crooks spend most of the film trying to kill Kate, then decide to kidnap her instead when they finally catch up to her, giving the excuse that they want to know who else might be aware of their activities. (Well, for starters, there’s all those witnesses to the various cop-killings and attempts on Kate’s life ...) The dialogue is flat and no matter what losses characters suffer -- home, pets, colleagues, relatives -- they’re making wisecracks within minutes.

Director Andrew Sipes has a nice eye for frame composition and does his best to jazz things up, casting exotic blue-and-gray shadows over a couple making love in Chapter 20 and washing sunrises and sunsets in brilliant orange. He also knows how to make even an anticipated murder jolting. However, he can’t make the staging of all those life-saving trips through the air look convincing.

Baldwin is pretty good under the circumstances. Crawford looks great and could be worse, but she’s not nearly up to adding depth where the script fails to provide it. (Note for anybody hoping to see nude scenes: somebody’s breasts are on view a couple of times here, but they’re never in frame with Crawford’s face. Caveat emptor.) Steven Berkoff is amusingly over-the-top as the chief baddie and Jenette Goldstein (the tough Vasquez of ‘Aliens’) is so cool and fierce as his henchwoman that you wish somebody would give the actress her own movie.

For those who want to be intellectually, emotionally or viscerally engaged, ‘Fair Game’ will not satisfy. If, however, a film is needed to check out the range of a sound system while a series of stylish images flow over the screen, this production is ideally suited to the purpose.

more details
sound format:
Dolby 5.1 stereo
aspect ratio(s):
1:3:3 (full-frame, modified from original format)
special features: Chapter Search
comments: email us here...
   
reference system
DVD player: Kenwood DV-403
receiver: Kenwood VR-407
main speakers: Paradigm Atom
center speaker: Paradigm CC-170
rear speakers: Paradigm ADP-70
subwoofer: Paradigm PDR-10
monitor: 27-inch Toshiba








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