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Reviews
STAR RATINGS EXPLAINED
Unmissable 5 Stars
Excellent 4 Stars
Good 3 Stars
Poor 2 Stars
Tragic 1 Star

FILM DETAILS
Certificate
18
Cast
Robert Duvall
Michael Douglas
Barbara Hershey
Tuesday Weld.
Directors
Joel Schumacher.
Screenwriters
Ebbe Roe Smith.
Running Time
113 minutes

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Falling Down


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Plot
When William "D-Fens" car gets stuck in gridlock on a sweltering L.A. day, he decides to walk home, but en route his bubbling anger at the pettiness of city life rises to the surface and he decides he's "not going to take it anymore"...


Review
"I'm going home," states William (a.k.a. D-Fens, a.k.a. Michael Douglas) at the beginning of Falling Down, finally abandoning his car when the heat, frustration and sheer crapness of being stuck in an L.A. freeway gridlock overwhelms him.

The big problem for D-Fens (so called because he works in the defence industry: "making America safe") is that, if truth be told, traffic jams are the least of it. Modern urban living adds up to a nightmare combination of gang warfare, immigrants who can't speak your language, burger joints from hell, rich bastards hoarding the best bits for themselves, unbridled selfishness and dark, depressing squalor.

And today, on his walk back home to Venice Beach from the freeway, he is not going to take it any more. Running like a California Tourist Officer's nightmare (the best credit? "Annoying Man At Phone Booth" or possibly "Kid With Missile Launcher"), this then proceeds like a cross between Death Wish and a Sergio Leone movie, with D-Fens encountering each urban irritation with a combination of long-suffering wit and machine-gun fire. A Korean shopkeeper, refusing to change a dollar for the phone, gets his shop smashed to pieces; a gang of Hispanic youths receive a taste of their own Uzi-power; and a startled burger vendor (played by Michelle Pfeiffer's sister, fact fans) is offered the option between serving breakfast and death.

Meanwhile, at the local precinct, Robert Duvall is on his very last day as a cop, deciding that the successful nailing of this fanatic would finish his career on a suitably upbeat note. Director Schumacher and screenwriter Ebbe Roe Smith are on frighteningly thin ideological ice here, of course, and their response is disappointingly cack-handed. Is the guy a fascist? Can't be: the only person he deliberately kills is a caricature of a sadistic Nazi. Is he a vigilante? Can't be: he actually says, "I am not a vigilante." Is he a racist? Can't be: he gives rich, white scum just as much grief as he does poor, black scum.

Schumacher, of course, is not renowned for his lightness of touch, but the obvious terror he feels at being labelled ideologically unsound does begin to grate after a time - a terror strangely not tempering the mildly misogynistic glee with which hen-pecked husband Duvall finally gives his wife an earful of abuse. Despite these reservations, this is a remarkably tense thriller and a thumping good story - like The Swimmer, which it often resembles, it manages to avoid the "and then" factor that so often mars these episodic tales, largely by deftly cutting between D-Fens' antics, Duvall's last day at the office and the loony's wife (Hershey) at home in Venice with their young girl. It is also far and away Schumacher's best movie, and proves yet again that Michael Douglas, alone among the Hollywood A-list, is a genuine risk-taker.


Verdict
While the morality of D-Fens methods are questionable, there's a resonance about his reaction to everyday annoyances, and Michael Douglas' hypnotic performance makes it memorable.


Reviewed by Philip Thomas

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Your Reviews

Average user rating for Falling Down
Empire Star Rating

D-Fens and his Downfall

The first time i watched this, i was 11. I didn't understand much of it. Just some nutter with an Uzi being pissed off. Natural shit. But i watched it again, 3 years later. And i finally got it. This film is trying to illustrate, in very over-the-top manner, what we all feel at some point. Urban life gets to you. Ofcourse, Douglas is amazing as the gun-totting American Average. And when he goes mental in Whammy Burger is impressive and amusing. Overall, a legendary film from Schumacher. Brillian... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by lostboys96 at 00:24, 03 February 2012 | Report This Post


ITS REAL! ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by harvestmoon at 23:15, 11 March 2011 | Report This Post


Tenseful From The Very Begining.

Falling Dow is a very tenseful and quite unsettling film that packs a real punch and leaves the viewer breathless. With a outstanding pefomance from Michael Douglas as a man who finally snaps during a hot day and begins a terrifying ramage. Robert Duvall is the retiring cop that is out to get them though he should be focusing on leaving with his wife. It will affect your emotions throughout, the nail bitting fifteen minutes or so is powerful. Highly recommened if you haven't seen it yet. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by joanna likes films at 18:11, 05 October 2010 | Report This Post


Tenseful From The Very Begining.

Falling Dow is a very tenseful and quite unsettling film that packs a real punch and leaves the viewer breathless. With a outstanding pefomance from Michael Douglas as a man who finally snaps during a hot day and begins a terrifying ramage. Robert Duvall is the retiring cop that is out to get them though he should be focusing on leaving with his wife. It will affect your emotions throughout, the nail bitting fifteen minutes or so is powerful. Highly recommened if you haven't seen it yet. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by joanna likes films at 18:11, 05 October 2010 | Report This Post


Great. It's cool to see how Michael Douglas's character somehow fades from protagonist to antagonist throughout the movie. It's executed seamlessly and works very effectively. Nice movie..if youre into Neo-Nazis, hating society and wanting to kill everyone. I know I am! :) ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by krisjcummins at 21:00, 02 May 2010 | Report This Post


Falling Down

Without question Joel Schumachers best film, a brilliantly well made film about one mans total breakdown. Brilliantly played by Douglas, who gives arguably his best performance. A classic. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by zombiewarehouse at 19:46, 14 March 2007 | Report This Post


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