Falling Down Review
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In the months since I made the switch to Blu-ray, I’ve enjoyed all of those things that the new technology has to offer: better quality, pop-up menus, additional features. But the switch has also had an unexpected side effect: the Blu-ray back-list releases have given me a chance to go back and watch some of the older movies that I’ve somehow missed—like director Joel Schumacher’s haunting drama, Falling Down.

Michael Douglas gives an unforgettable performance as an ordinary Joe who’s had enough. His day starts with yet another traffic jam on the streets of LA. Tired of the gridlock, he simply gets out of his car and walks away, announcing that he’s “going home.” But this “home” isn’t exactly a warm and welcoming place, where his family will receive him with open arms. It’s where his ex-wife, Beth (Barbara Hershey), lives—and the last thing she wants is for her unstable ex-husband to show up at their daughter’s birthday party.

Still, he continues to walk across the city, determined to see his daughter. Along the way, he faces all kinds of frustrating situations that he just can’t take anymore—from convenience store clerks who charge too much for a can of soda to territorial gang-bangers to fast food restaurant managers who won’t serve him breakfast at 11:32. And he declares war on each and every one of them.

Meanwhile, Detective Martin Prendergast (Robert Duvall) spends his last day on the job tracking this mysterious man in a white shirt and tie who’s wreaking havoc on the entire city.

Originally released in 1993 (and, rather appropriately, filmed during the LA riots), Falling Down accurately depicts the angst of the ‘90s—but it’s just as powerful now, in the midst of layoffs and recession, as it was then.

Technically, Douglas’s character (who remains nameless for most of the movie) is a Bad Guy—an unhinged man who takes his frustrations out on anyone who has the misfortune of getting in his way. Still, as you get to know more about him, you can almost understand where he’s coming from. Everything’s piling up on him, and he’s feeling lost and frustrated and desperate…and angry. He’ll make you feel anxious and uneasy, and he’ll probably make you feel just a bit paranoid. But Douglas is so frighteningly good in the role, giving the character such fascinating depth, that you might just feel sorry for him, too.

Falling Down is a grippingly suspenseful and often violent film—but it’s also oddly, darkly humorous at times, too. And that touch of humor helps—because, without it, the film would be extremely heavy. Instead, it’s poignant and riveting—yet it’s still surprisingly entertaining, too. If you happened to miss it back in the angst-filled ‘90s, this thought-provoking drama is a great back-list find.

Blu-ray Review:
The Blu-ray release of Falling Down comes in special “Blu-ray Book” packaging, which includes a 30+-page book of stills, trivia, notes, and other information about the film.

Special features on the disc itself are somewhat few and far between, though it does include a trailer, as well as a commentary with director Joel Schumacher and star Michael Douglas. There’s also a short feature, called Deconstructing D-FENS, in which Douglas discusses the story and his character. Though it’s only about ten minutes long, it’s filled with interesting information and insights—and it’s definitely worth a few extra minutes of your movie-watching time.

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