26 September 2000 | NewYorkLondonParisMunich
Send this one back for more editing
"Fall" (the Bulgarian video title is "The FBI vs. the Mafia") is a harmless witness-protection comedy that would be fine as a 30-minute short film. However, it stretches out to 90 minutes, which seem more like 180. I believe the point was to make a character- and dialogue-driven comedy, along the lines of an Elmore Leonard adaptation. But the film centers around the wrong characters, a couple of annoying dimwits, leaving the viewer waiting for the more interesting characters for some 20 minutes at a time.
Michael Madsen is an FBI informer who agrees to testify against a Mob boss, and goes into the Witness Protection Program (Joe Mantegna pops up on screen for about one minute as Madsen's brother-in-law, an FBI agent, which apparently was enough for him to get his name on the front of the video box). Daniel Baldwin (who also directed) and Chad McQueen are the aforementioned dimwits, Mafia thugs who may--or may not--be assigned by the Mob boss in question to kill Madsen.
Baldwin and McQueen generally behave like annoying buffoons. They're not funny, despite a slapstick-sounding soundtrack. Their characters could have been acceptable in small doses, but instead, the film centers around them, pushing Madsen and his straight-arrow FBI babysitter off to the periphery of the film.
My suggestion: send this one back to the editing room. Cut 80% of the Baldwin-McQueen scenes. (Optional: stop now, and release "Fall" as a short film.) Add a lot more scenes with Madsen and the FBI babysitter. Add more background with Mantegna, the Mob boss, and whatever crime Madsen's being charged with. Add more scenes to the chase at the beginning/end of the movie, so the viewer can figure out how Madsen is caught.
Don't get me wrong: even with the edits, "Fall" isn't going to be "Go," or "Pulp Fiction," or "Lock, Stock, and Two Smoking Barrels." But at least it has the potential to get onto the "This Week's Picks" shelf at your local video rental shop. I think that's worth a trip back to the editing room...don't you?