Fair Game (1995)

Fair Game (1995)- * * *

Directed by: Andrew Sipes

Starring: William Baldwin, Cindy Crawford, Salma Hayek, Jenette Goldstein, Christopher McDonald, Miguel Sandoval, and Steven Berkoff

When KGB assassins target the life of Attorney Kate McQuean (Crawford) because of her associations with a mysterious boat, only one man can come to her rescue: Marion “Cobra” Cobretti -- er...Max Kirkpatrick (Baldwin)! According to the movie’s tagline, he’s a Cop on the Edge - or COTE, as we call them. With the baddies using all kinds of high tech (for 1995) gizmos to track their whereabouts, Max and Kate will always have to stay one step ahead of the highly-mobile evildoers. If that means a few car chases, stunts, shooting and...romance...then so be it. With nowhere to run and no one to trust, will our heroes be FAIR GAME for the bad guys?

Hey, if we wanted to see movies that are Cobra (1986) without being Cobra, we’d probably just watch Black Cobra (1987), starring Fred Williamson. Because it’s based on the same Paula Gosling novel that spawned one of our all-time favorite movies, Fair Game seemed very familiar to us. But instead of Stallone cutting pizza with scissors and Brigitte Nielsen posing with robots, we have one of the Baldwins and Cindy Crawford. Why does Hollywood always do this? What, Cobra wasn’t good enough for them? They thought that they could improve upon perfection by haughtily going back to the original title, getting a big budget and a glossy look and no one would notice? Now, while this may be a needless run-through of Cobra, it’s not without some charm of its own, but we felt we should get that out there as our opening salvo.

As we’ve said before, there are many kinds of dumb when it comes to movies - dumb is not one size fits all. Thankfully, despite (or maybe because of) its retread status, Fair Game is very dumb; sort of a cross between “Hollywood Dumb” and “90’s Dumb”. The key question is: is it entertaining? And the answer is yes. The cliches are so broad and the plot so paint-by-numbers, I’m surprised the script wasn’t written with a paintbrush and printed on an easel. It doesn’t seem like there was ever an attempt to make it any other way. The dialogue may be groan-inducing, but the action scenes are solid and well-executed, if a bit on the silly side (Baldwin flying sideways while shooting).

Maybe out of a guilty conscience, the movie can’t seem to let go of its Stallone connections - at one point, someone calls Baldwin “Sly”, even though his name is Max. Baldwin smokes cigars, clearly a reference to the fact that Marion Cobretti said smoking is bad for your health. In Cobra, Brigitte Nielsen was a model, so naturally that led to the casting of Cindy Crawford as her replacement. And this may be a stretch, but the whole 90’s Dumb/Hollywood Dumb connection comes through clear as day when you look at the similarities between this and Stallone’s The Specialist (1994). The natural humor of Cobra is replaced with “humor set-pieces”...but is that what kept this flying off video store shelves in the 90’s?

As for Cindy Crawford, hey, she gave it a try. If you’re looking for us to criticize a non-actor for having a flat affect when speaking, you won’t find that here. Lord knows we’re used to seeing that around these parts. 

The fact that she’s a lawyer in the movie is a bit of a leap; perhaps she could have been a model working at night for her law degree, or maybe a paralegal. But Crawford as a full-on lawyer was a bit much...yes, there is some light Crawford nudity, but is it really her? With all the 90’s tech on display, it’s easy to get distracted. The baddies know where to find her because they hack into her pizza account. HER PIZZA ACCOUNT. Well, if there’s any takeaway from this movie it’s this: don’t have an online account with any local pizza joint. Instructive.

Fair Game is 90’s Hollywood action in a nutshell: dumb, stupid, and actually very entertaining. Fascinatingly, this is director Andrew Sipes’s only directorial effort to date. Maybe he got depressed because he tried to out-Cobra Cobra, didn’t do it, then gave up entirely. It may have been Fair Game for the critics, but who cares? This site is all about the fans, and if you see it on cable or find it cheap on DVD, check it out. You could do a LOT worse.

Comeuppance Review by: Ty and Brett

Also check out a write-up from our buddy, The Video Vacuum!


Nick the Nitpick Film Critic said...

This was a funny review (thumbs up) lol I found the film score by Mark Mancina fun to listen to and the action wasn't bad either. But you are right, it's fairly dumb in logic haha.

Ty said...

Thanks, Nick! Appreciate the kind words. This was classic 90s silliness. Can't help but like it.

Anonymous said...

Sounds ok, I'd certainly consider a multi dvd box set with a 'baldwins flying sideways while shooting' theme :)

Ty said...

Would love to buy that too.

Port Film Co-op said...

This movie is awesome.. Just when you think you have seen every overblown Joel Silver action romp, this one comes along as a random DVD .. The cover doesn't sell it as the bombastic film it really is. Good action, pyrotechnics, slickly shot .. Some really nice aesthetic touches like the opening credits sunrise montage .. Plus a sense of humor.. Movies are so bad now, its worth digging up stuff like this. I would have gone the extra half a star to give this a full three. This wont disappoint any action-thriller fans.

Ty said...

You're right, we will upgrade to three stars, your points are very valid. Got to love Baldwin flying through the air while shooting