“Deadfall” (at the Highland, in Highland Park), a hopelessly callow, leaden-paced attempt at film noir, is of interest only because it was directed and co-written by Francis Coppola’s nephew, Christopher, and because it has a far more stellar cast than is usual for low-budget B pictures.
An overly bland Michael Biehn--his soundtrack narration in particular is as flat as the material he’s been given to read--stars as a young con man who accidentally kills his partner/father (James Coburn, as witty as ever but woefully wasted here), who with his dying breath reveals he has a twin brother living in Santa Monica. Biehn departs New Jersey for California, quickly impresses the shady uncle (also Coburn) he never knew he had.
This development, however, incites the jealousy of the uncle’s unlikely junior partner in crime (a way-over-the-top Nicolas Cage, the director’s brother), a cokehead given to shades, flashy clothes and a bad wig. Just as swiftly, Cage’s girl (Sarah Trigger) finds herself attracted to the handsome Biehn.
There is no point in further elaborating on the film’s progressively contrived plot and its too easily predicted “surprise” twist finish. Cameos by Peter Fonda, Talia Shire (the director’s aunt), Charlie Sheen, Clarence Williams III and ex-Monkee Mickey Dolenz aren’t much help. On its posters, “Deadfall” is all-too-aptly billed as “the ultimate con.”
Michael Biehn: Joe Donan
James Coburn: Mike/Lou Donan
Nicolas Cage: Eddie
Sarah Trigger: Diane
A Trimark Pictures presentation. Writer-director-producer Christopher Coppola. Executive producers Gertrude Fox, Gerson Fox, Mark Amin. Co-producer Ted Fox. Co-writer Nick Vallelonga. Cinematographer Maryse Alberti. Music Jim Fox. Production design Clare Scarpulla. Art director Paul Holt. Set designer Bruce Hill. Set decorator Lisa Monti. Running time: 1 hour, 38 minutes.
MPAA rating: R for violence, sexuality, drug use, strong language. Times guidelines: It contains standard exploitation fare, though somewhat less violent than usual, considerable nudity, some steamy sexual scenes.