The Fan (Blu-ray)

An all star baseball player becomes the unhealthy focus of a down on his luck salesman.

March 10, 2023 6 Min Read

Review by: Matt Brighton

Plot: What’s it about?

Director Tony Scott has helmed some pretty great movies. The original Top Gun, True Romance, Crimson Tide and Enemy of the State just to name a few. Though his films weren’t ever as highly regarded as his brother, Ridley, Scott still managed to make his mark on Hollywood. He was originally set to direct the 1996 blockbuster The Rock, but passed on it when he found out that Robert DeNiro was attached to this project. I remember seeing The Fan when it hit theaters late in 1996 and also remember not being too impressed. Why? Well, it’s nothing original. The obsessive/compulsive nature of the film is essentially Fatal Attraction on a baseball field. But, given the caliber of the cast with DeNiro, Wesley Snipes (at the top of his game, pun fully intended), Ellen Barkin and John Leguizamo to name a few – the movie wasn’t exactly lacking in that department. So what, then, made this movie go so wrong?

Gil Renaud (Robert DeNiro) has had better days. He’s estranged from his wife (Patti D’Arbanville) and is about to lose his job as a knife salesman (yes, you read that correctly). The only thing that keeps him going are his beloved San Francisco Giants. Recently they’ve acquired All-Star slugger Bobby Rayburn (Wesley Snipes) to the tune of $40 million dollars. Gil is beside himself with joy, that is until Rayburn fails to deliver. He initially cites it with petty things, like his number – something that teammate Juan Primo (Benicio Del Toro) isn’t willing to hand over. Things change when Juan is murdered by Gil. As Rayburn’s star continues to rise, it fuels Gil’s obsession to get close to the player. Things culminate when Gil kidnaps Rayburn’s son and demands a home run to release him. Who said three strikes and you’re out?

To the film’s credit, Robert DeNiro does a great job with his character. It’s something he’d done a few years prior in Martin Scorsese’s Cape Fear and he channels a lot of Max Caty here as well. Snipes, the other name above the marquee, does a fine job as well though he essentially plays an older and more arrogant version of the character he played in Major League (a much better movie about baseball). The supporting cast is fine as well, Ellen Barkin plays a dee jay who banters with Gil throughout (the two were much better in Michael Caton-Jones This Boy’s Life a few years prior), John Leguizamo as Rayburn’s agent and an early appearance by Benicio Del Toro (there’s also a blink-and-you-miss-him appearance by Jack Black). But with all the star power in this one, along with a well-known director, it just can’t save this one.

Video: How’s it look?

I try and see the good in every transfer even if there’s very little to see. That said, The Fan and its 2.35:1 AVC HD encode don’t give us fans much to enjoy. Some blocking issues persist throughout, other scenes are dark and dingy while others look great. Beads of sweat on Wesley Snipes’ shaved head offer a great bit of detail, but those are few and far between. Colors are, by and large, present but do appear a bit inconsistent. There’s even a scene with a bit of “dirt” on the bottom left portion. If you’ve seen films in theaters back in the day, you’ll know what I’m referring to. All in all it’s a passable, yet uninspired transfer.

Audio: How’s it sound?

A pretty by-the-book DTS HD Master Audio mix is included, though it’s mainly to show off the soundtrack. Songs by the Rolling Stones proliferate the mix, not to be outdone by Trent Reznor’s Nine Inch Nails. Yeah, there’s a fair amount of hard rock going on in this film which had me scratching my head. Vocals are nice and rich and surrounds are used sparingly. Like most sports movies, there isn’t a lot of actual “sports” being played, but a few scenes do have some great ambiance with fans cheering at the game and so forth. It’s a notch just above average, but this one won’t blow the roof off the place by any means.

Supplements: What are the extras?

We strike out in the extras department, not even a trailer.

The Bottom Line

The Fan has a great cast with no shortage of talent. The plot is a bit “been there, done that” but it’s not totally unwatchable. DeNiro does what he does best as does Snipes. Mill Creek’s disc is a pretty big disappointment with sub par visuals and zero supplements. This one is for, you guessed it, for die-hard fans only.

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