Hard Rain is a wash; Fallen lacks soul.
by Susan Ellis
iven all the rain weve had here in 1998, the thought of going
to a movie set in a glut of precipitation seems pretty unappealing.
But its not just bad timing that ails Hard Rain. The fact is
that Hard Rain is all too run-of-the-mill to make any real waves.
Its better suited for rental, when its viewers can better appreciate
it through a haze of a few beers and take-out pizza.
It begins in the small town of Huntingburg just as its being
evacuated due to rising flood waters. Those who remain are the
towns sheriff (Randy Quaid) and two of his deputies, a woman
named Karen (Minnie Driver), who stays behind to save the church
shes worked to restore, an old couple who refuse to budge, a
pair of armored-car drivers Charlie and Tom (Ed Asner and Christian
Slater), plus a team of bandits led by a man named Jim (Morgan
Just as Charlie and Tom are making their way through town, loaded
down with $3 million in cash, their truck stalls in the water
and they are soon greeted by Jim and his men. One gunfight later,
Charlie floats away with a bullet in his neck, and Tom is off
swimming, pulling the bags of money along. Jim intuits that Tom
will stash the money, so he orders the men to find Tom and not
kill him until he leads them to the money.
Meanwhile, Tom does hide the money and seeks a place to hide.
He happens upon the church and a crucifix-wielding Karen, who
clocks him over the head and then drags him off to the police
station. There, Tom tells the sheriff his story, and the sheriff
agrees to check it out. What Tom doesnt know is that this sheriff
is the outgoing sheriff and as such has made the impulsive decision
to go out with that armored-car money.
What follows is a series of chases: Tom is pursued by the bad
guys, the sheriff pursues the bad guys, the bad guys pursue the
sheriff, and Tom pursues the sheriff, and so on. This action is
punctuated by near-drownings and electrocutions. In fact, if one
positive thing can be said about Hard Rain, written by Graham
Yost (Broken Arrow, Speed) and directed by Mikael Salomon (A Far
Off Place) it is that it moves swiftly and only really drags at
the end. But thats basically it. The script is filled with some
truly bad dialogue (the highlight being when an old man says the
f-word) and cliched characters (a true-blue cop destined to die
and a Bible-quoting thug destined to die).
Though the cast is solid enough, the script leaves them dog-paddling.
Freeman gives his normally composed performance, and Quaid and
Slater muddle through as best they can, but Drivers thick-mouthed
American accent makes the movie just that much worse.
If we have to have all this business about guardian angels the
books, the magazine articles, the TV series Touched By An Angel
well, it seems only fair that demons get equal time. So it is
that Fallen, starring Denzel Washington, has come about. Call
it Touched By A Devil.
This is literally the premise of Fallen. Washington plays homicide
detective John Hobbes, who battles an unseen evil force which
passes from human to human by touch and takes over its host to
do its bidding.
Hobbes has been tagged by the demon through one of its bodies
belonging to serial killer Edgar Reese (Elias Koteas). Hobbes
nabbed Reese and is there to witness his collars last breaths
used in part to sing the Rolling Stones Time Is On My Side
in the gas chamber. Hobbes is nonchalant about Reeses passing
that night and boasts that he looked good being interviewed on
no less than four channels. But Hobbes peace of mind is soon
disturbed when he begins to investigate new murders that look
exactly like Reeses dirty work.
These are no ordinary copycat murders. Whoever is doing them knows
more than the average television viewer. It appears to be an inside
job and all clues increasingly point to Hobbes. The killer leaves
little hints, writings on walls and on his victims. Hobbes pieces
these marks together, leading him to Gretta Milano (Embeth Davidtz),
an expert on angels and the daughter of a respected cop who 30
years earlier fell victim to this same demon. So Hobbes knows
who the killer is, but he doesnt know what form hell take or
how to prevent him from coming in contact with his family, his
friends, or even himself.
Fallen is directed by Gregory Hoblit (Primal Fear) and written
by Nicholas Kazan (Reversal of Fortune). Together, Hoblit and
Kazan are going for a certain style. The camera spins around to
the demons various bodies as it makes its way congo-line-like
through a crowd, while its viewpoint is seen in brightened blues
and reds. Their hero, Hobbes, ruminates over his situation through
lines of important-sounding mumbo-jumbo (I love the night, the
street, the smells.
Sometimes you come face to face with yourself).
The effect of the filmmakers mindfulness is neither thrilling
nor particularly eerie (though it does feel very, very long).
Fallen lacks, in a word, soul. n
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