AUGUST 31, 2008
Mention Fallen to anyone, and they will have two responses: they will sing “Time... is on my side...” or they will say “That Shocker ripoff?” (variant responses include The First Power or House III/Horror Show). I guess a third option (“What?”) is possible, but screw those ignoramuses. But what no one will mention is how goddamn long and needlessly talky that Fallen is. For a movie about a serial killer, you’d think the body count would be at least 10 or so, but it’s much less (and one is so off-screen it’s almost distracting, since it’s a major character).
Again, I don’t think "high body count" necessarily equals "exciting movie", but when you’re dealing with something as silly as an executed killer’s soul possessing anyone he comes into contact with, why not have a little fun with it? Denzel can bring the hammy when he wants (Virtuosity, Deja Vu, hell, even John Q), so it’s not completely out of the question. Plus the supporting cast is like a who’s who of scenery chewing legends – Donald Sutherland, John Goodman, James Gandolfini, Elias Koteas... but no one is allowed to cut loose. Koteas gets a little bit, but his role should have been unbilled for its brevity (he is executed 5 minutes in and never appears again – at least Pileggi found a way to stick around in Shocker).
The soul possession thing is also way overused. There are a couple of scenes when he translates over like 20 times, sometimes only “taking over” someone for literally five seconds before moving on to the next person. It’s like the evil version of that feather in Forrest Gump. After a while it’s not really exciting a concept; it’s not that anyone COULD be the killer, it’s that everyone IS. Just about everyone in the movie is taken over at some point or another, and since the person is not affected in any negative fashion as a result, there’s little suspense about the whole thing. No one’s hurt or dying, and the killer doesn’t even seem to be interested in killing Denzel most of the time.
Like yesterday’s movie, it features someone having to solve a code that leads them to a particular Bible passage. If you’re going to provide a code, you obviously want your nemesis to know what it is, so why not save them some time? He doesn’t even make it much of a challenge – he writes APO, CAL, Y, and PSE, in order, on the chests of four victims. Come on, at least mix ‘em up a bit so he has to use his noggin.
This movie features an inordinate number of cast members from the movie Black Dog. Two, in fact; Gabriel Casseus and Graham Beckel, who is uncredited as one of the random street folks who are momentarily possessed. You might think two is hardly inordinate, but I ask you: Have you SEEN Black Dog? If so, would you want to ever be reminded of it twice in one otherwise unrelated movie? I think not.
Despite all that, it’s at least watchable. Denzel and Goodman have a great chemistry, and some of their dialogues together are the film’s best scenes. I also like how Denzel took care of his brother (Casseus) and tried to keep his nephew from thinking he was more awesome than his own father. And throughout the whole movie, Denzel is giving some really annoying narration, but at the end it’s actually kind of a twist, and it’s a pretty sweet one at that. I just wish it didn’t take so long to get to it.
What say you?