Falling Down (DVD)

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Falling Down (DVD)

A laid-off defense worker, kept from seeing his child on her birthday by a restraining order, looks at the landscape of moral decay in Los Angeles on ...

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Review of "Falling Down (DVD)"

published 27/09/2016 | Jarisleif
Member since : 11/02/2012
Reviews : 443
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Ciao gone the same way as DooYoo. Time to depart, methinks.
Excellent
Pro Great story, excellent acting
Cons Very few
exceptional
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Story
Characters / Performances
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Soundtrack

"D-Fens is Falling Down"

D-Fens is on the warpath.

D-Fens is on the warpath.

Falling Down (1993)


Directed by: Joel Schumacher

Writing Credits: Ebbe Roe Smith

Produced by: Timothy Harris, Arnold Kopelson, Herschel Weingrod

Genre: Crime | Drama | Thriller

Length: 113 minutes

Certificate: 18

IMDb Rating: 7.6

Starring: Michael Douglas, Robert Duvall, Barbara Hershey


The film begins with a close-up of a man's face. It becomes apparent that it is a face that Catherine Zeta-Jones has seen on numerous occasions, but not until six years after this film was released. It is, of course, Michael Douglas, who is playing the part of William "D-Fens" Foster, and he seems a little disinterested, as we all are when we wake up in a morning to have to go to work. Foster is sat in his car in what appears to be a huge rush hour traffic jam. The camera pans over other unfortunate people. One child is staring out of the back of a window, a woman is applying the finishing touches to her lipstick, while kids on a school bus are being unruly. And yet William still sits there, waiting. His air conditioning in his car is not working right, which is even worse in the extreme heat. He tries to wind down his window, but the lever breaks. And all the while, the kids are still messing around on the bus. And a fly is attacking William. We've all been there, with a fly in the car. What can you do about it but get out of your car and start walking. This is exactly what D-Fens does. "What do you think you're doing?" asks the motorist behind him. "Going home", Foster replies. And there we have the start of what was a bad day in William Foster's life. A day in which he probably wished would never have happened.

You think I'm a thief? Oh, you see, I'm not the thief.

Have you ever had one of those days where nothing, no matter what you do, goes right? By now you're all probably remembering that day (or days) and cursing your luck at that time. Maybe you're superstitious and kicked a black cat while walking under a ladder with your umbrella open indoors, or maybe you don't really believe in anything like that and just put it down to bad luck, like I would. I've been there, I can safely say I've had numerous days which I thought would never end, but I'm still here, and I got through them. William Foster, however, could not shake that stigma of his bad day, which just got worse and spiraled more and more out of control as it went on. I felt sorry for him in a way, and although I've never been a huge fan of Michael Douglas, I thought his performance here was masterful. With the exception of "The War of the Roses" (1989) and "Wall Street" (1987), I haven't really liked him in anything else. I also have to wonder just how he was not at least nominated for an Academy Award for his portrayal as Foster, but then the Academy has never done things completely right. Surely he was better than Laurence Fishburne as Ike Turner in "What's Love Got to Do With It" or Anthony Hopkins' performance in "The Remains of the Day" as James Stevens to gain a nomination, even though the eventual winner was Tom Hanks in "Philadelphia" as Andrew Beckett. Not to mention my choice would most certainly have been Liam Neeson as Oskar Schindler in "Schindler's List", but that's a different story entirely, and one that is entirely subject to personal opinion. For the record, Michael Douglas says that this was his best performance of all the films he's had parts in, and I have to agree.

Listen fellows, I've had a really rare morning

The film is not all about William Foster, though. Sergeant Martin Prendergast (Robert Duvall) is seeing out his final day as a police officer in the relative comfort of his office chair in the police department. Prendergast has seen it all before. He's witnessed shootings, investigated stabbings, and got through his fair share of murders in his time as a cop. He is one of those good guy cops – yes there are a few of them out there – and a man that is deeply loyal to his job, probably more than he is to his own wife, and he knows he couldn't live without her. Duvall played the role with great conviction, and I got the feeling that he believed in the character. So often in film you get actors playing parts just for the money, but I didn't see that with Duvall and Prendergast. Alternately, I saw an actor actually enjoying the part he was paid to do. Duvall became the character, instead of letting the character overwhelm him, and though I am no actor I do see how difficult that may be to achieve. If their lives hadn't crossed in these circumstances, I could see Prendergast and Foster becoming good friends had they met in a bar or at a game. They seemed to have some similar traits, and they both appeared to be laid back. So yeah, I could definitely imagine them drinking beers and enjoying a cookout on a summer's night. Of course, that would not make for good TV, and it was inevitable that these two had to square off against each other. Maybe some Hollywood bigshot will reboot the film, and make this happen. After all, everything is being remade, re-imagined or rebooted.

What the hell are you trying to do? Kill me with a golf ball?

Not many people reading this will know that British heavy metal band Iron Maiden recorded a song in 1995 based on this film, called "Man on the Edge". It was the band's first single released, following the departure of vocalist Bruce Dickinson, and featured the then new singer, Blaze Bayley on vocals. The song chronicles the problems William Foster had as he went through his day from hell. As a fan of the band, I remembered a few more instances of song writing based on films. "Phantom of the Opera" is probably the one that a lot of you will know, even though you don't realise it. Remember the Lucozade advert of the 1980s with Daley Thompson? The music playing on that was indeed that song, which was recorded in 1980. Go on, off you go to YouTube to refresh your memories. It's on there, I just checked for you. "The Wicker Man" is another, which was off of the band's 2000 album, "Brave New World". This was based on the film of the same name, the 1973 offering starring Edward Woodward and Christopher Lee. Fortunately, it had nothing to do with the remake with Nicolas Cage that was made six years after the song was written. There are obviously other artists that have done the same, Metallica's "One" was based on the 1971 film "Johnny Got His Gun", a film about a young soldier wounded by a landmine in World War I, which took his arms, legs, eyes, ears, nose and mouth. The man spends the rest of his life capable of independent thought, yet no way of actually communicating properly. Anyway, the film is quite something if you have a spare couple of hours one day.

If everyone will just stay out of my way, nobody will get hurt

Simply put, "Falling Down" is a truly great film. Joel Schumacher brilliantly directs, and although he has achieved other success with films such as "Batman & Robin", "Phone Booth" and "8mm", I do think "Falling Down" is his masterpiece. As previously mentioned, Michael Douglas and Robert Duvall are both incredible, but the true winner is Ebbe Roe Smith's writing. Some might say that the film does not flow as well as it maybe should, but I personally think that is what sets it apart from the rest. What you have here is a story that grips you from the first moment. You don't really have a good understanding of what's going on in William Foster's mind, but throughout the course of the film you start to learn about him. I wouldn't say "Falling Down" is gritty, as such, but it is a gripping ride of a day in the life of one man who has had enough of everything, and another man who is about to go into retirement, and probably against his own better judgement. You'd be crazy not to want to watch this.

Quality wise, the transfer to Blu-ray is not the best. Yes, it's better than DVD, but there are visible grainy parts, which is a shame. Maybe that was intended to give the film something different, but I don't think it is. The sound quality, also, suffers. Rather than take on 5.1 surround, they decided to go with TrueHD stereo, and the difference is very noticeable to those that have both the DVD and Blu-ray versions. You don't get that dynamic effect you're looking for without 5.1 and it completely baffles me why this has been changed. Special features, you don't get a whole lot. There is an audio commentary which I barely bothered with except for in some scenes which I felt needed explaining. However, there is no real information when I went to these sections of the film. Schumacher and Douglas provide the commentary track, for those that are interested. There is also a quick ten-minute interview with Michael Douglas on his role as D-Fens, which is clearly over way too quick for my liking. You also get the obligatory theatrical trailer. And that's it. I still think I prefer the Blu-ray version purely because it's Blu-ray, but some people might want to pick up the DVD for less money.

My rating: 8.1/10


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Comments on this review

  • siberian-queen published 21/10/2016
    excellent review
  • torr published 10/10/2016
    First rate review, but I have to admit I wasn't that keen on the film itself. Very watchable, but whatever point it was making was a bit lost on me.
  • mikemelmak published 28/09/2016
    Good acting; the ending was predictable.
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Manufacturer's product description

A laid-off defense worker, kept from seeing his child on her birthday by a restraining order, looks at the landscape of moral decay in Los Angeles on one hot, congested day and, after being mugged, snaps. What follows is his bitter and pathetic mission of justice, vengeance and vindication that reads uncomfortably like too many news stories.

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