“Falling Down” is a witty, violent, satirical and clever comment on modern society. The film manages to cover a lot of ground, with Michael Douglas’ character “D-Fens” managing to take us on a tour of some of the downright appalling examples of what is wrong with Western culture (but particularly American culture). It’s gripping in that it gets to you intellectually. And although technically speaking, D-Fens is the bad guy, he isn’t really. He’s more like the victim.
Joel Schumacher has had an interesting up and down career, making some great films such as “Phone Booth” and some downright crappy ones like “Batman and Robin”. This is right up there with the best. Once can only speculate how he manages to vacillate between such films but you’d hope that he goes for ones like this more often. It shows a deeper, more clever side to this filmmaker that gets eroded when he makes a bad film. In “Falling Down”, he hits the beats perfectly. Each sequence makes some comment on Western culture, be it fast food restaurants, immigration, values taught to children, extremism, homosexuality, the dark side of capitalism; you name it, it’s probably covered.
Watching Michael Douglas in this film is a bit of a revelation. Having followed him for some time and enjoying his work, his performance in this film is something else entirely. He’s not likeable but you sympathise with him. He plays a pathetic character who gets pushed too far. And he has a good time with it too. One scene where he holds up a McDonalds-style fast food joint with a machine gun so he can get the correct order he wanted because the staff have no service skills is hilarious: “You see, this is what I’m talking about! Look at the picture! The burger’s plump, it’s three inches thick… now, look at this pathetic, greasy, squashed thing… can anyone tell me what’s wrong with this picture?” On the flip side, there are also some disturbing scenes where Douglas guns down a Nazi extremist, trashes a Korean Quick-E-Mart, or when a ten year old kid teaches him how to properly use his bazooka. And there’s some touching moments in there too; D-Fens just wants to get back to his wife and kid. When he realises he’s crossed the line, it all becomes too much for him. In this respect, the film manages to achieve a great balance between comedy, drama and thrills while delivering a message.
Robert Duvall plays a more subdued character in Detective Predergast. He’s never really done any policework, but on the day before his retirement, he gets to do some when he tries to catch D-Fens. The problem is, no one believes him because they don’t value his opinion. Duvall is good in anything he does and here he plays a perfect supporting role to Douglas’ commanding performance.
An excellent film that will stay with you for some time after you watch it.
For the original DVD review, click this link: http://www.allaboutmovies.net/dvdreviewfallingdown.htm
Alex DeMattia is the lead DVD reviewer at the film/DVD review web site All About Movies.net – He also contributes reviews and articles for the Digicosm Film Blog: http://www.filmannex.com/Digicosm