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Cherry Pop

'Double Feature: The Contractor & The Fan'
(Wesley Snipes, Robert DeNiro, Lena Headey, et al / Blu-ray + DVD / R / 2020 / Mill Creek Entertainment)

Overview: The world's greatest marksman is now a marked man!

Wesley Snipes is back in this explosive action-thriller about a deadly assassin who finds himself on the run when an attempt to kill a terrorist mastermind in London goes terribly wrong.

All fans have a favorite player. This one has a favorite target! When the San Francisco Giants pay centerfielder Bobby Rayburn (Wesley Snipes) $40 million to lead their team to the World Series, no one is happier or more supportive than #1 fan Gil Renard (Robert De Niro).

So when Rayburn becomes mired in the worst slump of his career, the obsessed Renard decides to stop at nothing to help his idol regain his former glory ... not even murder.

Blu-ray Verdict: Up first is 'The Contractor' (2007). Government assassin Wesley Snipes is set up by his own covert ops organization (he really should have known better, didn't he see 'Shooter'?), and ends up on the run in London pursued by his own organization and the Metropolitan Police; all with a little help from troubled teenager named Emily.

Notwithstanding the fact that the story is very familiar, it is presented with some panache. Snipes can play this role in his sleep, of course, and pretty much does so. Bulgaria does a pretty good impression of seedy south London!

There is a nice, if unlikely, wrinkle in Charles Dance's relationship with his police officer daughter, and the action bashes along satisfactorily.

On the negative side there is a gun battle early on during which the Metropolitan Police spray automatic weapon fire all over the place in a way which would simply not happen (even the controversial de Menezes killing didn't involve indiscriminate discharge in public of automatic weapons!).

But on a positive note - a very strongly positive note - there is a fabulous performance from Eliza Bennett. She acts Snipes off the screen, and her performance - naturalistic, humorous and powerfully touching - raises this movie to a higher level than its otherwise rather pedestrian nature would have taken it to.

Then we get 'The Fan' (1996). Knife salesman Gil Renard is a die-hard baseball fan and is looking forward to Opening Day more than normal as his team, the San Francisco Giants, have acquired Bobby Rayburn - a 3-time MVP - from the Atlanta Braves.

However, not long into the season, Rayburn's form goes downhill fast, and he starts to fall out with his teammates, especially the on-form Juan Primo.<> Gil decides to try and "help" Rayburn any way he can even if it means taking things a bit too far, but when he's not given the credit he thinks he deserves after Rayburn starts hitting again, Gil takes matters into his own hands after a "chance" meeting with Rayburn.

Whether you like psychological thrillers, are a fan of De Niro or Snipes, or all of the above, 'The Fan' is definitely a must-see kind of movie. The story's not intricate nor deeply complex, but it doesn't need to be when it's told & delivered as good as this.

The film's cast is excellent. De Niro, Snipes, Leguizamo, Del Toro all do a fantastic job, but the master is definitely De Niro and he's at his psychotic best once again.

The way he portrays Gil going on a steady downward spiral deeper into insanity is fantastic and scarily realistic. Snipes also does a good job of playing cocky Rayburn, which isn't too far off how a lot of players see themselves.

The Nine Inch Nails soundtrack of "Closer" is used to great effect and really adds to atmosphere of Gil's descent into madness. I've seen people moaning about the lack of "realism" regarding the game of baseball in this movie also.

How many action movies have we seen where the "hero" gets shot at 1000s of times but doesn't get hit once? Or all those James Bond moments when he's in trouble?

People still enjoy them though. Yes, some of it's not realistic ie: playing the game in a torrential downpour, but if you want "realism" regarding baseball then go and watch a documentary about the game. This is a film for entertainment, not education. So just enjoy it for what it is. This is a Widescreen Presentation (1.85:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs.

'Double Feature: The Contractor & The Fan' [Blu-ray] is out March 17th, 2020 via Mill Creek Entertainment.