C. Thomas Howell directs himself as a hard-boiled private eye in this thriller that flirts with elements of parody before settling down to become a by-the-numbers endeavor.
Blaize Rybeck (C. Thomas Howell), an LA private detective whose practice runs largely to monitoring unfaithful spouses, is hired by beautiful Emma Ruselle (Sophie Ward) to locate her missing brother Kenny, a flight instructor whose body was not in his plane when it crashed. Clues lead Blaize to
Moe (Titus Welliver) and his thrill-seeking friends. Pretending to be an unemployed laborer, Blaize gains Moe's confidence by making a daring bungee jump.
When Blaize is warned off the case by FBI agent Bill Wilcox (William Applegate Jr.), with whom he has had trouble in the past, his curiosity is increased. And his desire to solve it increases when a visit from Emma ends up with her in his bed. At the air hangar where he works, Moe introduces
Blaize to Axe (Jeff Kober), who immediately distrusts him. Blaize admits he is really a private eye, and Axe releases him.
Kenny's body is found. With the help of information gathered by his assistant, Snider (Sam Seder), Blaize realizes that Kenny and Axe engineered the midair hijacking of an FBI cargo flight. When Kenny tried to cheat Axe out of his share, Axe killed him. At the hangar, Axe also kills Moe and
captures Blaize. Axe plans to escape with his wife--Emma, but she reveals that she loves Blaize and helps him escape. In the ensuing melee, the hangar is destroyed in an explosion. Emma and Blaize escape with the money, but he refuses to run away with her. Instead, he reports her dead to the FBI.
Like the heroes of most second-rate detective stories, Blaize Rybeck doesn't so much deduce the solution as stumble across it. THE BIG FALL isn't so much a mystery as an action flick gussied up in Bogart mufti. Many viewers may not make it past the opening scenes of Rybeck on one of his standard
unfaithful-spouse cases, where it's not entirely clear whether star-director Howell is trying to do a parody of or an homage to Phillip Marlowe (whatever it is, it's painful to watch). He's on much firmer territory when THE BIG FALL settles into a standard made-for-video shoot-'em-up, albeit one
drenched in sepia tones and 1940s anachronisms. The plot doesn't make much sense, but it looks good and makes use of some interesting LA locations. (Graphic violence, sexual situations, extreme profanity.)
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- Released: 1997
- Rating: R
- Review: C. Thomas Howell directs himself as a hard-boiled private eye in this thriller that flirts with elements of parody before settling down to become a by-the-numbers endeavor. Blaize Rybeck (C. Thomas Howell), an LA private detective whose practice runs larg… (more)