Rewatched Aug 08, 2012
Adam Cook’s review:
Every now and again Joel Schumacher will come out with a good film (I guess if you make enough of them eventually one turns out right) and Falling Down is undoubtedly his crowning achievement. It is a film that borders on wish fulfillment as one man rallies against the constraints and irritations of contemporary life. Whilst D-Fens certainly pushes it too far, and the film does a good job of making him both a sympathetic and psychotic presence, there is an undoubted pleasure seeing somebody push back against the bullshit of modern society.
Michael Douglas has always been somewhat of an underrated actor, perhaps because during his height he gravitated towards rather similar and easy roles. His performance as the unhinged D-Fens is arguably one of his best and certainly most memorable. He captures the seething rage, the sense of injustice and the overbearing hopelessness that D-Fens feels in his slowly unravelling life. Despite the episodic nature of the story you do feel invested in his frustrations, his troubled family life and his desire for a simpler existence. His targets are familiar to many from the annoyance of being overcharged to feeling unsafe in your own home city. Whilst his actions may be extreme the people he lashes out at are normally justified.
Schumacher brilliantly captures Los Angeles during an unnatural heatwave. The maddening and sweltering temperature, the imposing concrete landscape and the multicultural population (whilst perhaps an accurate depiction of cultural divides D-Fens casual racism is the one area that stops him being truly sympathetic). Likewise, Robert Duvall is also excellent in a role that is a deliberate walking cliche.
Falling Down is an attack on modern life, its decadence, corruption and lack of community but above all it’s a hell of a lot of fun.