Falling Down (1993)

As parodied on the Foo Fighters music video

It's just not William Foster's (Michael Douglas) day. Laid off from his defense job, Foster gets stuck in the middle on the mother of all traffic jams when he desperately just wants to attend his daughter's birthday party at the home of his ex-wife (Barbara Hershey). Foster abandons his car and begins walking, mentally unraveling along the way and striking out those who annoy him enough, including a Mcdonalds type restaurant who've stopped serving breakfast and a Korean store owner who charges too much for a can of Coke. Running amok with an arsenal of weapons at the ready Foster rapidly becomes a source of terror to some and a folk legend to  others. It's up to Prendergast (Robert Duvall), on the eve of his retirement, to bring down Foster.

The film opens with a sequence that's very well directed by Joel Schumacher, slowly building up Foster's rising anger as he sits in the car during a massive traffic jam and has to deal with the sounds and constant sights of unmoving vehicles and their drivers, and this showcases William Foster's rising anger in a much more effective way than any scenes of Douglas loudly shouting or honking his horn could accomplish.

Foster comes across a large number of things which have irked each of us in our days, be it overpricing, homeless that never stop hassling, bullies, impatient arseholes and when a restaurant stops serving breakfast, and is the person who acts on impulse to go on the rage-fuelled bender that, deep down inside, many of us have wanted to go on.

Douglas is at his best in the role of the poor everyman who's just snapped, starting off with just taking out his anger on a can of Coke costing 85 cents, but eventually getting darker as his journey goes on, descending into more violence and knowing he can't go back but keep going on with what he's started. The dialogue can often be hilarious, but it's Bill Foster's dialogue that truly shines as it helps to highlight the anger that he is feeling, with a note-worthy example being his rage-fueled destruction of the products in an overpriced corner shop.

"For the last time, WHAT'S IN THE SECRET SAUCE?"

However, there was a moment in this movie where William meets a Neo-Nazi who supports William's rampage, and this felt a bit out-place from what occurred before, detracting from the film a bit. Granted, this was the moment where William reached "the point of no return", but i'm sure it could have been done in another way that didn't involve a friendly Neo-Nazi showing off his bazooka (not a euphemism, people).

We also get the story of Martin Prendergast (Robert Duvall), a man who's working his last day as a police officer before he retires, only to get caught up in William Foster's rampage. I felt that the story had some interesting moments and I enjoyed that it tried to develop the character rather than just have him as merely the officer who's trying to save the day, but I felt that this storyline was not as interesting or as compelling as Bill's unraveling.

It is astounding to see how far William goes from simply having a bad day to wielding bazookas and shooting people, getting darker as he passes "the point of no return", but at the heart of all of this darkness, the man is not doing all of this just to see society crumble or because he hates what the world has become, but so he can see his daughter on her birthday, and the film wisely keeps ahold of this heart.

Falling Down is a compelling drama, expertly examining what if one person got fed up with their mediocre life and began going against the injustices of society, whilst having a bag full of guns. It's smaller films like these that remind you that Joel Schumacher can make good movies, as long as they're not big budget flicks or include bat-nipples.


AdamMoody said…
Great review dude!! I have heard of this and I have been very interested in watching it, but your review now has me dying to see it.
ParanoidCreep97 said…
Hmm, the fact that its done by Joel Schumacher turns me off, but it sounds alright. Great review
HarleyQuinn said…
Never heard of this, but your review has sparked my interest. great review!