The Fan Reviews
And then it takes a complete nosedive after a session at the sauna and a fishing trip. The entire final act is cuckoo. Still, those first two acts. Unnerving to the core.
6th May 2015
Tony Scott's best films are usually the quick paced and tense action films or ones with engaging and original plots. In The Fan he takes a different angle which unfortunately means he has to slow things down. The pace in The Fan is not tediously slow, but it means that the material is just not as engaging as it should be or lacks the general spirit of a good Tony Scott piece.
The Fan uneasily walks the line between being a drama film about the troubles facing Gil "Curly" Renard regarding his relationship with his son and his obsession with professional baseball. The focus on him seems to be very broad as the script attempts to combine it all into an amalgamation of characterisation. I'll admit that it makes it relatively easy to sympathise for him, but it doesn't exactly establish the direction that the story is going in. While the film intends to be psychological thriller, The Fan is short on thrills. The entire first half of The Fan is bent on being a drama film with the most minor hints of a thriller in the way it lightly plays on Gil "Curly" Renard's obsession with baseball by suggesting his obsession is specifically with player Bonny Rayburn. The thriller elements of the film gradually transition in during the second act, but it is not an easy transition. It just changes genres in a manner which is both subtle and obvious in different ways which suddenly leaves behind a lot of what the rest of the film spent building up to in terms of characters and such. The film changes, but not in a manner where it seems believable enough because the atmosphere remains dramatic instead of becoming thrilling. So as a psychological thriller, The Fan comes up short.
The Fan's plot is not that great which is a shame considering it has some high concept themes to it. The idea of an obsessive fan becoming a killer is a concept with potential due to its real world relevance to killers such as Robert John Bardo and other insane fans along the lines of Arthur Richard Jackson or John Hinckley Jr.. Unfortunately, The Fan gets so caught up in being a basic drama film that it never really takes off. A lot of Tony Scott's lesser films tend to have some fun moments, with Top Gun being the prime example due to having many incredible aviation sequences largely surrounded by melodramatic cheesy romance and other cheap plot dynamics. But The Fan had few scenes which were really the endeavour of Tony Scott's directional skill. As a whole, The Fan was just largely a formulaic film which failed to capitalise on either its high concept or talented cast and just ended up with few surprises. All in all, I'd say the problem is that The Fan is not the right material for Tony Scott. He has proven to be able to create thrills in a lot of films even if they aren't action movies because he is able to put energy into them, but with The Fan everything moves at a pace too slow. There are some interesting moments, but all in all the narrative is just not that consistently engaging and is far from thrilling enough. He does what he can with the source material and dramatises some scenes well such as the climax in the film, but all in all the material is not his area of expertise.
I will say that Tony Scott ensures that The Fan is a stylish film. He uses all the right scenery and captures it with strong large scale cinematography techniques. There are some nice moments where the Dutch angle technique is used.
And as usual with Hans Zimmer, the musical score in The Fan is great. It is intense in the appropriate manner because it echoes memories of an insane person's damaged childhood and has the audience curious about the central antagonist. There are some moments where it makes The fan really atmospheric even if it fails to be consistently intense. The musical score in The Fan is one of its way better elements.
And the dialogue in the film is decent though. It has some moments which are fairly weak, but as a whole it manages to do the job well enough to give some decent material to the cast.
As usual, Robert De Niro is in top form. His performance is an engaging one because of the character development he puts into the role. He begins by making Gil "Curly" Renard a sympathetic character and then transitions him gradually into a more and more insane figure. While the film fails to keep up with him, Robert De Niro is consistently powerful in his role because of how dedicated he is to it. He begins to implement small elements into the role as he develops over the course of the storyline which are subtle yet clear, and he never goes over the top for the part. He is physically engaged in the film by showing physical determination through all the plot dynamics and his line delivery is consistently dramatic with tension which varies based on the situation. He manages to always tie into the atmosphere which assists the story in progressing, and the strength of his chemistry with Wesley Snipes encourages some really atmospheric moments as they are a good contrast to each other in terms of characters. Robert De Niro's role may be stretched a bit much by the film's script, but he does a good job in the role and that is what really matters in the end. He stands out as one of the better aspects of the film.
Wesley Snipes is great in The Fan. He manages to put a naturally likeable persona into the role of Bobby Rayburn which made him a sympathetic presence. He does a good job conveying the stress of being a successful baseball player who has to face the burden of spotlight expectations. Despite the film focusing on Gil "Curly" Renard, it is Bobby Rayburn who turns out to be the deepest character and Wesley Snipes works hard in the role. He puts a genuine level of humanity into the role which makes him compelling, and he really gives it his best with understated and subtle acting skills. His line delivery is realistic but fuelled with inner emotion which can be seen simply on the basis of his physicality, so he amalgamates both forms of acting into the character very nicely, so he is the best of the cast members in one of the better and more character focused performances of his career. He stands out as the most memorable element of The Fan.
But despite a talented cast and a high concept plot, The Fan ends up wasting its potential on a slow pace which makes the experience of the film feel like two separate parts where the second act is somewhat interesting but the first act is not all that much.