What’s an Insomnia File? You know how some times you just can’t get any sleep and, at about three in the morning, you’ll find yourself watching whatever you can find on cable? This feature is all about those insomnia-inspired discoveries!
On Tuesday night, if you were suffering from insomnia at midnight, you could have turned over to HBO Signature (commonly listed as HBOSIG) and watched Fair Game, a remarkably mindless action film from 1995.
Originally, my plan was to start this review of Fair Game by telling you, in quite a bit of detail, just how sick I am of the Russian Mafia. Seriously, Russian mobsters have become the default villain for lazy crime films everywhere. And, quite frankly, I’m getting bored with them. I’m bored with how the head Russian mobster is always described as being “former KGB” and is always found sitting in the back room of restaurant, wearing an overcoat and smoking filterless cigarettes. I am bored with how his main henchman is always some big guy with a crew cut and that guy always has a thin sidekick who wears his hair in a pony tail and has a bad mustache. I’m sick of the overexaggerated accents of American and British accents trying to sound Russian and the way they’re always listening to EDM while driving. It’s all so predictable and tedious.
But then I considered that Fair Game was made 20 years ago. Even if the villains are Russian mobsters and even if they are some of the least interesting Russian mobsters in cinema history, it’s totally possible that, when Fair Game, was made, there was still some sort of novelty about the Russian Mafia.
However, even if we give Fair Game a pass on using the cliché of the Russian mob, the villains still weren’t particularly interesting. Kazak (Steven Berkoff) is … well, the film isn’t really that clear on what Kazak’s big plan is but he has a lot of henchmen and they certainly do end up killing a lot of people. Kazak runs his operations off of a yacht that belongs to a Cuban criminal named Emilio (Miguel Sandoval). Emilio is in the process of getting divorced and attorney Kate McQuean (model Cindy Crawford, who made her film debut here and has never played a leading role since) is determined to repossess his boat. So, Kazak decides that the perfect solution would be to murder Kate…
Which makes absolutely no sense. Kazak doesn’t want anyone to discover his operation so he decides to blow up a good portion of Miami, all in pursuit of one person. Wouldn’t it make more sense for Kazak to just blow up the boat and buy a new one?
Anyway, as the film opens, Kate is out jogging when suddenly someone driving by in a car opens fire on her. She ends up getting grazed in the arm, not that it seems to bother her. She wears a bandage for a few scenes but it soon vanishes. Kate is all business so, even after getting shot, she still goes into the office and starts to make plans to repossess that yacht. Personally, if anyone ever shot at me, I would probably be so freaked out that I would never leave the house again.
Now, you may be thinking that Kate was shot because of Kazak but actually, it turns out that the shooting was just a random thing that happened. Apparently, the shooter was trying to shoot someone else and Kate just happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. So, we never find out who actually shot Kate and that really bothered me, as that seems to be kind of a huge plot point to bring up and then refuse to resolve.
Anyway, Kate meets a detective named Max Kirkpatrick (William Baldwin) and, soon, they’re on the run from Kazak’s assassins. The majority of the film is made up of Max and Kate running from one location to another. One thing that really bothered me was that literally everyone that Max and Kate talked to ended up getting killed just a few minutes later. At one point, Kate flirts with a computer service expert to get him to help them out. The scene is played for laughs but then, five minutes later, that same innocent technician guy is being brutally tortured by a bunch of Russians and, though we don’t see it happen, it’s safe to assume that he was eventually murdered by them. And no point do Max or Kate appear to feel any guilt or concern about the number of innocent people who are killed just for associating with them.
Anyway, Fair Game is a completely mindless film that has a rather nasty streak of sadism to it. (I imagine, when this film was released, it probably set a record for close-ups of people getting shot and stabbed in the crotch.) William Baldwin and Cindy Crawford both have perfect bodies and give totally wooden performances, which leads to them having a dimly-lit sex scene that is both physically hot and emotionally cold at the same time.
(I have no idea what entropy at absolute zero means but it sounds like a pretty good description of the chemistry between Cindy Crawford and William Baldwin in Fair Game.)
One good note: Salma Hayek has a small role as Max’s ex-girlfriend. Whenever she shows up in the movie, she starts screaming at everyone. I don’t blame her.
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