Awfully Good: Deadfall

I’ll take any excuse to remind people this movie exists. So FOCUS…con artist movie…blah blah blah…

Deadfall (1993)

Director: Christopher Coppola
Stars: Nicolas Cage, Other Non-Nicolas Cage People

A con man accidentally kills his own father during a fake drug sting and in a haze of grief, sets out to fulfill his dad’s dying wish of retrieving a valuable possession from his long lost twin brother. Instead he runs in to Nicolas Cage, who is probably the most ridiculous human being ever.

Anytime someone talks about Nicolas Cage, I have one response:

“Boy, Nicolas Cage sure was crazy in BAD LIUETENANT, wasn’t he?”

“LOL, remember in WICKER MAN when Nic Cage punched a woman dressed as a bear?”
“Pshhh… DEADFALL.”

“Look at this ridiculous cage I bought at…”
“Did you say Nicolas Cage? DEADFALL!”

DEADFALL is Nicolas Cage at his Nicolas Cage-iest. He is completely, 100% out of control in this movie. It’s hypnotic and surreal performance art more than it is actual acting and you cannot begin to imagine the places he takes the character of con man Eddie. (And this is the guy who ate a live cockroach in VAMPIRE’S KISS.) Picture your average Nicolas Cage role, but instead of craft services, the actor was only allowed a steady diet of hallucinogens for the entire production.

That’s the only thing that could explain the Oscan winner’s complete psychopathic performance in DEADFALL, with a Dorothy Hamill wig and a bizarre made-up accent that constantly changes. Whether it’s part Elvis, part Scarface, or part H.I. McDunnough, you can’t understand Cage half the time and when you can, he’s simply spouting off bizarre non- sequiturs like “Sam f*cking Peckinpah!” or “Viva la f*cking France, man!” (There’s also the great “HI F*CKING YA!” when he decides a random extra deserves to get Judo chopped.) Cage pretty much just yells, cries, shakes, dances—whatever he can to do make his portrayal of a human being anything but normal—and the further you get in to the movie, the crazier he is. At one point, during what should be a pivotal scene, he throws what can only be described as a humping temper tantrum on a bed. It’s a tour-de-force so over the top I expected Lincoln Hawk to come in and start arm wrestling him.

Unfortunately for DEADFALL, Nicolas Cage doesn’t stick around for all of it and the Cage-less parts of the movie are a D-level film noir at best. Director Christopher Coppola, nephew of Francis and brother of Cage, pretty much killed any chance at real career with this generic con man story full of insipid dialogue, predictable twists, and snoozy femme fatales. He also has a serious hard-on for Hitchcock, even down to the score and an ending that for no reason takes place on a merry go round.

Given his familial connections it’s also not shocking that Coppola was able to round out a pretty decent cast. Michael Biehn stars as the impressively bland lead character, who spends much of the movie silently watching Nicolas Cage destroy every frame of celluloid around him. His narration is some of the lamest voiceover on record— unnecessarily recapping what’s going on, foreshadowing the most obvious things (“I didn’t know it then, but that picture would be important later!”), or again simply reacting to Cage (“He sure was a lively fella.”). Esteemed actors Peter Fonda and James Coburn also show up, with Coburn being forced to play identical twins because, hey, if you have Derek Flint you might as well use him twice. And once Cage is gone, the film tries to make up for his absence (unsuccessfully) with bizarre appearances by Monkees drummer Micky Dolenz, Charlie Sheen, who plays a cocky pool shark dressed like Hugh Hefner, and PHANTASM star Angus Scrimm as a man with scissors for hands for absolutely no explained reason.

But who cares about any of that because it doesn’t involve Nicolas Cage. Nothing else in DEADFALL matters—not the dumb MacGuffin or the predictable twist or the ludicrous ending. NOTHING.

Here are the best lines and best parts of the film, all courtesy of Nicolas Cage. It’s long, but worth every Cage-filled second. (Warning: A couple NSFW shots.)

You get some topless strippers and the femme fatale gets all kinds of naked during a patented Michael Biehn sex scene.

Help Mr. Cage pay his taxes! Buy this movie here!

Take a shot or drink every time:

  • Nic Cage says something completely random and off the wall
  • Nicolas Cage says “Mommy” specifically
  • Nicolas Cage looked stoned
  • The lighting is too dark

Double shot if:

  • The name of a beloved director is used in an exclamatory fashion
  • A member of The Monkees is onscreen

Thanks to Nick M. for suggesting this week’s movie!

Seen a movie that should be featured on this column? Shoot Jason an email or follow him on Twitter and give him an excuse to drink.


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