*** This review may contain spoilers ***
It’s a rare thing to encounter a film which is so powerful and revealing about life as this film is at times. It is an absolute gem.
In “Falling Down”, Michael Douglas (in possibly his finest performance) plays William Foster (or D-Fens), a slightly aggresive, but ultimately relatively ordinary guy who one day simply cracks. Foster decides he needs to visit his ex-wife and his daughter (it’s his daughters birthday), and sets off on a route of rampage on the way, taking out anyone who stands in his way in this crazy world.
As well as the fine performance by Douglas, Robert Duvall as a policeman on his final day is superb, as are the remainder of the cast. Ultimately though, without Douglas, this film would quite possibly fall flat. The way he manages to show a man who obviously has tinkered on the edge for some time, who finally snaps at the truely insane things in life (not being able to get a fastfood breakfast because they stopped 3 minutes ago for example) is stunning & for him to not even be nominated for an Oscar (was it going to be in the running for the 1993 or 1994 Oscars? Not sure) is a travesty.
Whilst the acting is obviously worthy of mention, what we need to remember about films like this is that ultimately, even good acting is worthless without such an outstanding plot and script.
“Falling Down” is clever in the way that, and I find it strange that out of the 10 or so reviews I’ve read on imdb, not one person has mentioned this, but the film is clever in the way that it regularly refers to London Bridge being located in America.
In a world where capitalism, and an increasing obsession with the superficiality of life are taking over at an alarming rate, the title of this film reminds us of one of the biggest travesties of this capitalist history, this being the purchase of London Bridge. The title of this film “Falling Down” is taken from that age old nursery rhyme “London Bridge is Falling Down”, and for vast stages of the film, there are subtle, and not so subtle, links also made to the bridge. As well as Duvall’s Prendergast, being forced by his domineering wife to move away, close to where the London Bridge now stands, there are the occasional clever lines which link Douglas to the Bridge and the Rhyme. The perfect example of these being when he is with the fascist and the fascist (Nick) tells him to spread his legs further. At this moment, Douglas replies with something along the lines of “I can’t move my arm because without it, I’ll fall down.” The writers of this film are clever clever men.
Truth be told, I have but one complaint with this film. During his wave of distruction, Douglas arrives at the home of a Plastic Surgeon, and whilst there, he talks to a family who’re having a BBQ. At this point, Douglas bursts into tears and seems almost like his mind has gone beyond that breaking point. At this moment though, the film switches across to Duvall and, when we return to Douglas (our “anti-hero” perhaps?) he is back on his feet and close to his ex-wife’s home. What happened to him between these points? It appears almost as if the writers reached a blockage and didn’t know where to go next, so they just skipped what could have been an amazing extra five minutes. A small shame, but ultimately it doesn’t detract from this film too much.
So to summarise. In “Falling Down” we are presented with a cleverly written piece of cinema with Michael Douglas putting on possibly the best performance of his career as he presents us with an ordinary man, who one day got so angry with the hideously flawed system in which we live, that he simply snapped. We all can associate with this man, this almost justice based psycho, who simply wants to be with his family & be happy. A modern masterpiece of cinema. Well worth a watch.