Monday, August 1, 2011

Falling Down (1993)

Falling Flat

- William 'D-Fens' Foster (played by Michael Douglas) is seemingly angry at what he sees as flaws in society. When he gets stuck in traffic, he abandons his car. When he is treated with no respect by a store clerk, he trashes the place. When a gang gets up in his grill, he makes them pay.... All D-Fens wants to do is attend his daughter's birthday party as the cops chase him down for his violent retaliations against society.

Joel Schumacher's cult classic thriller Falling Down (1993) has a strong reputation as a great film and a terrific satire of American society - and I haven't the foggiest idea as to why. Now, how is Falling Down a satire, exactly? Satires use irony, ridicule or sarcasm to bring to center stage unwanted truths about society. Falling Down certainly looks like it is attempting to be a satire; traffic and poor retail service are supposedly what drives Foster to crack and go medieval on everyone - until it is revealed that Foster is in fact not some kind of everyday Joe who is forced to lose control because of everyday society. The guy is just nuts - deeply disturbed from the very beginning of the film with a long history of violence before his recent crime spree. In the end, Foster's  violent acts are the actions of a crazy maniac and not someone who has cracked under the pressures of everyday life. How can a story about a crazy man expose truths about society?

Anyway, Michael Douglas is fantastic as the lead in this film. Douglas embodies the unstable and violent nature of  William 'D-Fens' Foster perfectly; it is one of his best performances, if not his very best. Robert Duvall also does a good job in the poorly written/developed retiring Detective Prendergast role. Had Duvall not been cast, the character could have very possibly been destroyed by a inferior actor because of how generic the character appears to be on paper. However, Duvall makes the character not only watchable but the most compelling and likable character of the movie.

Unfortunately, nearly everything else that makes up Falling Down is not so great. The cinematography, score, script, and supporting performances are all average at best - not dated as much as just forgettable nonentities.

The worst aspect of the film however is the way that the plot moves along by one coincidence after another. Basically, everything that happens in the film seems a little too convenient: Douglas's character just happens to anger some gangsters who try to shoot him and just happen to completely miss and just happen to get into a car accident and just happen to be carrying a duffel bag full of automatic weapons that Douglas's character just happens to grab. That kind of stuff happens throughout the entire film.

Overall, despite its faults and undeserved reputation, the performances of Douglas and Duvall end up making Falling Down one of Joel Schumacher's better films. That is not saying much.... the six minute Foo Fighters spoof video of Falling Down is better than the actual movie.

CBC Rating: 5/10

No comments: