"FALLING DOWN: DELUXE EDITION"
by Kevin Carr
|| MOVIE: *** (out of 5 stars)
DVD EXPERIENCE: *** (out of 5 stars)
Michael Douglas as D-FENS
Robert Duvall as DET. MARTIN PRENDERGAST
Barbara Hershey as ELIZABETH TRAVINO
Tuesday Weld as AMANDA PRENDERGAST
Rachel Ticotin as DET. SANDRA TORRES
Available on DVD May 26
Official Warner Bros. Vido Site
Studio: Warner Bros.
Directed by: Joel Schumacher
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William Foster (Michael Douglas) is a mild-manner office worker who was recently laid off from his job at the Defense Department. During his non-commute through Los Angeles one day, he cracks under the stress, leaves his car in a traffic jam and walks home to see his ex-wife and daughter. Along the way, he lashes out at everything that enrages him about the city – from gang warfare to burger joints that don’t serve breakfast past 11:30 a.m.
Detective Martin Prendergast (Robert Duvall) is enjoying his last day on the force before retirement, but soon he finds himself tracking Foster’s movements through the city. Working on a hunch, Prendergast tries to find Foster before he can do any real damage.
WHAT I LIKED
I challenge anyone to watch “Falling Down” and not suffer from a bit of I-wish-I-could-do-that-itis. After all, who hasn’t been in a traffic jam and wanted to abandon their car? Who hasn’t wanted to blow up a construction site that seems to be there for no good reason? Who hasn’t wanted to fight back against the gang element in our cities? Who hasn’t wanted to lash out at hard-to-handle fast food restaurant managers?
The character of William Foster (simply called D-Fens in the closing credits) represents an element of our collective id. He’s what we secretly want to be on any given day of stress. Of course, he takes things farther than any of us would (we hope), but what makes this movie work is the fact that almost everyone who sees it can relate to the character.
Even though Robert Duvall gives a great performance as would-be retiree, his acting is overshadowed by the classic moments in the film, which all feature Michael Douglas.
Director Joel Schumacher has such a record of hitting and missing with his films, and he will probably go down in cinema history as the guy who put nipples on the Batsuit, but it is films like “Falling Down” that remind us that he can deliver a decent film. Probably one of his best movies of his career, Schumacher struck a chord with movie audiences in 1993 with “Falling Down.”
WHAT I DIDN’T LIKE
Back in 1993, “Falling Down” was one hell of an edgy movie. Made in the shadow of the Rodney King riots, this film hit a little too close to home for many people. Even though the vast majority of the American movie audience lives outside of L.A., this city’s problems are no different from any other city, which is what makes it relatable.
Unfortunately, it also made it a somewhat dangerous film to make. I’m sure that the executives had many conversations about what would happen with potential copycat events. Were they lawyered up to deal with white-shirted vigilantes, and did they worry about the fall-out from a fast food restaurant shoot-em-up, a high-profile event that happened less than ten years before?
Looking at “Falling Down” with today’s eye reveals that the movie pulled its punches a bit. Were it made today, the characters would go farther. D-Fens wouldn’t just shoot a gang banger in the leg. He’d mow down his whole posse. Would that have made a better film? I can’t say, but it would have been even more realistic if you ask me.
The new Deluxe Edition of the DVD comes with the theatrical trailer (which has a vintage feel but also contains some of the most memorable parts of the film) and a modern conversation with Michael Douglas about the movie, its historical context and how it would be received today.
There is also a commentary track with a unique twist. Archival recordings of Michael Douglas are included, along with commentary and notes by director Joel Schumacher and writer Ebbe Roe Smith, among others. The shifting commentary keeps things interesting and maximizes the information potential of this feature.
WHO’S GOING TO LIKE THIS MOVIE
Anyone who has ever wanted to lash out.