Title: Falling Down (1993)
Director: Joel Schumacher
Stars: Michael Douglas, Robert Duvall, Raymond J. Barry and Frederic Forrest.
The film opens on a hot Los Angeles day, where we are introduced to Bill Foster -aka D-Fens- played by Michael Douglas. Enraged by the monumental traffic-jam that is stretched out in front of him, he decides to abandon his car in the road, simply saying “I’m going home”. We quickly learn that D-Fens has a rather quick temper, which gets him into trouble very quickly, as he finds himself in increasingly dangerous and violent situations. It is obvious that there is a deep seated reason behind his behaviour. Meanwhile, it is Detective Prendergast’s (Duvall) last day on the force, and he is intrigued by reports of vigilante crimes that are being performed by the same individual.
Michael Douglas is perfect in the lead role and it is by his own admission, his favourite performance in a movie. He plays a highly troubled character, one who is separated from his wife and daughter and cannot let them go. As he tries to make it ‘home’ for his daughter’s birthday he encounters everything that is wrong with society. He is overcharged for cheap goods, pestered by petty criminals, attacked by gang members and generally antagonised by almost everyone he meets. Naturally all of these incidents put him in a very agitated state. It is hard not to empathise with his character in most of the situations he encounters. Though, unfortunately, D-Fens takes everything too far.
Robert Duvall is utterly solid as the Robbery Detective, who is consigned to his desk. He is deemed a coward by his superior as he chose to be in that position instead of working on the streets. Duvall sets out to prove him wrong. Frederic Forrest is memorable as ‘Surplus Store Owner’, who D-Fens meets at a critical point in the film. A much underrated actor, he is most well known for playing ‘Chef’ in Apocalypse Now.
As well as creating a zeitgeist tapping character, Falling Down gave us a very memorable anti-hero in terms of dress. Douglas wears a crisp, white short-sleeved shirt and a tie and carries a briefcase. This might not seem very iconic, but once you have seen the film, you won’t be able to forget. Falling Down is a terrific look at the human condition and how certain circumstances can make the common man break down. What is most pleasing about this film, is how relevant it still is twenty-three years later. This is a true cult classic.