The Fan is an overly blatant thriller that strikes out. Robert DeNiro is Gil Renard (another of DeNiro’s trademark psychos), a knife salesman by trade, but a fanatic baseball fan. He is especially pleased when his hometown San Francisco Giants pick up super slugger Bobby Rayburn (Wesley Snipes), whose career Gil has been following very closely. However, things aren’t going well with Bobby. His teammates are jealous of his gigantic salary, particularly Juan Primo (Benicio Del Toro), the old center-fielder (whose position Bobby usurped). Primo has an ace up his sleeve, however…he wears #11, Bobby’s old number. When the superstitious Rayburn goes on a slump, he blames Primo for wearing his lucky number. Meanwhile, Gil’s life is slowly going down the tubes. He’s under increased pressure at work, and his relationships with his ex-wife and his son begin to fray. Gil turns to baseball for solace, and begins stalking Bobby. Director Tony Scott, who usually delivers taut action thrillers, truly disappoints with this outing. Scott shoots this film with the quick cuts and strange angles more apt to a music video, and the pounding music score seems to back this up (although the tracks, from the Rolling Stones’ Sympathy For the Devil to virtually every available remix of Nine Inch Nails’ Closer, beat you over the head with their obviousness). None of the actors seem to give their parts much effort, and the script, falling from the unbelievable to the incredulously ridiculous, can’t support this film. Even with most of the screen time, DeNiro can’t find a new spin on his oft-played lunatic, and ends up giving a worn performance. Snipes doesn’t convey much more than a cocky superstitious jock (which is actually more the fault of the screenplay). The other characters, from Del Toro’s Primo to female sports reporter Jewel Stern (Ellen Barkin) to Bobby’s agent Manny (John Leguizamo) are flat, cardboard characters. There are only occasional glimpses of intelligence in the script, dealing with the relationships of pro athletes and fans, but they are quickly lost and forgotten, in favor of some preposterous stock thriller pieces. For a thriller, The Fan provides few thrills.
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