Deadfall (1993) from Tuna

Deadfall is a "confidence game within a confidence game" flick written and directed by a Coppola, with a cast that includes Nicolas Cage, Michael Biehn, Sarah Trigger, James Coburn, Peter Fonda, Charlie Sheen and Talia Shire. The story is engaging, full of interesting characters, and includes some nice plot twists and some sexy nudity. 

Despite all that, Deadfall should have been named Dreadful.

Hard to imagine how it could be that bad, isn't it?

I have never seen a film where the problem was more obvious or came from a less likely source. Sure, there were some minor defects, like a little too much narration, and some minor characters who could have been fleshed out more, but those would have been forgivable. The problem is an over-the-top performance from Nicolas Cage. He didn't just chew the scenery, he digested it, then squatted and crapped in the middle of the set. Cage's performance was so over-the-top that I cheered his death by deep fat frying, but was at the same time angry that it wasn't more violent and painful. Unfortunately, it was too late to enjoy the rest of the film.

Cage doesn't bear the entire blame for this, however. Christopher Coppola was the director should have been able to reel Nic in. Cage, whose real name is Coppola, is Christopher Coppola's brother, and they are both nephews to the cinema legend Francis Ford Coppola. Perhaps there is something in that relationship that explains how this happened. Cage was an established performer with a great track record. Coppola was a new director with one major flop under his belt. In a short featurette included on the DVD, Cage admitted that he gave a totally unrestrained performance, but there was no clue in the featurette as to why Coppola did not direct him to bring it down. I can only assume that he felt Cage was the pro, and trusted his judgment, but anything I say would be conjecture. What I do know is that Cage ruined what could have been a decent film, and that Coppola let him.

At any rate, the performance is really that glaringly awful.



  • This box set contains Underworld (1997, 86 min., Starring: Denis Leary, Joe Mantegna & Annabella Sciorra), The Last Word (1994, 94 min., Timothy Hutton & Joe Pantoliano), Capone (1989, 97 min., Starring: Keith Carradine & Roy Sharkey), and Deadfall (1993, 99 min., Starring: Michael Biehn, Nicolas Cage & James Coburn)
  • Featurettes on Deadfall and Underworld



Sarah Trigger shows breasts in a lengthy nude scene, as do two strippers.

The Critics Vote ...

  • No major reviews online.

The People Vote ...

The meaning of the IMDb score: 7.5 usually indicates a level of excellence equivalent to about three and a half stars from the critics. 6.0 usually indicates lukewarm watchability, comparable to approximately two and a half stars from the critics. The fives are generally not worthwhile unless they are really your kind of material, equivalent to about a two star rating from the critics, or a C- from our system. Films rated below five are generally awful even if you like that kind of film - this score is roughly equivalent to one and a half stars from the critics or a D on our scale. (Possibly even less, depending on just how far below five the rating is.

My own guideline: A means the movie is so good it will appeal to you even if you hate the genre. B means the movie is not good enough to win you over if you hate the genre, but is good enough to do so if you have an open mind about this type of film. C means it will only appeal to genre addicts, and has no crossover appeal. (C+ means it has no crossover appeal, but will be considered excellent by genre fans, while C- indicates that it we found it to be a poor movie although genre addicts find it watchable). D means you'll hate it even if you like the genre. E means that you'll hate it even if you love the genre. F means that the film is not only unappealing across-the-board, but technically inept as well. Any film rated C- or better is recommended for fans of that type of film. Any film rated B- or better is recommended for just about anyone. We don't score films below C- that often, because we like movies and we think that most of them have at least a solid niche audience. Now that you know that, you should have serious reservations about any movie below C-.

Based on this description, and a technically competent film, the lowest score I can give using our system is a D-.

Return to the Movie House home page