Saturday, January 24, 2015

Movie Review: "Falling Down" (1993)

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Movie"Falling Down"
Director: Joel Schumacher
Year: 1993
Rating: R
Running Time: 1 hour, 53 minutes

William Foster (Michael Douglas) is just having one of those days. He is an out of work and divorced defense contractor who, one day while stuck in traffic in the sweltering heat with no air conditioning and a window that won’t roll down, snaps a little and decides to abandon his car to try to “go home” to see his daughter for her birthday. Of course, his daughter lives with his ex-wife Elizabeth (Barbara Hershey) who has a restraining-order against William, though he has never done anything violent to her or their daughter. He now must walk across Los Angeles and, along the way, hecreates some havoc in his path. He busts up a convenience store that won’t give him change and overcharges for products, beats up some gang members who try and rob him, and shoots up a fast food restaurant that won’t serve him breakfast at 10:35 because they stopped serving breakfast at 10:30. To him he is just your average American standing up for his rights as a consumer and doesn’t see anything he’s doing is wrong. This mayhem that Foster has done draws the attention of Detective Pendergast (Robert Duvall) who despite being one day from retirement takes it upon himself to try to find and stop Foster before he gets “home” to his ex-wife and daughter. 

"Falling Down" is truly a great movie. Have you ever had a bad day? William Foster has had too many bad days and is finally fed up with life. We get to live vicariously through William as he unleashes his frustrations with the hassles of everyday life in ways we could only ever dream about and not that we ever really could or would. This movie is sort of the ultimate revenge fantasy when you think about it, only this time, it's against everyday life. Outside of a run-in with some local gang members and a crazy nazi, William faces many first world problems that most of us experience day in and day out, like being stuck in traffic in the sweltering heat with no air conditioning, like being overcharged for a can of soda at a convenience store, like being 5 minutes too late to get breakfast at your favorite local fast food place, or like witnessing street construction being done during rush hour (a personal favorite of ours to hate). Sure, everything William does is highly illegal, but this movie strangely makes us root for him because his destruction and all of the things he does are physical manifestations of our emotional frustrations. He doesn't go around killing innocent people willy nilly, and those he does harm are "bad" people, like the aforementioned gang members and nazis, which makes him an intriguing antihero of sorts. Michael Douglas portrays William beautifully and crazily, and it's not like we all of a sudden see him freak out because it's apparent in his demeanor and attitude that these frustrations have been inside of him for a long, long time. There is some definite concern right from the beginning of the film that he could eventually cross the line, and he does so fast. Enter Detective Prendergast, played excellently by Robert Duvall, who is the true hero of the film who must work to stop our antihero. We know Prendergast is in the right when he wants to stop William, but we as audience members are conflicted about whether or not we want him to succeed in taking William down.

This movie deals with some deep moral conflicts and societal issues while remaining fun and entertaining. It also has a clear-cut message that it is able to deliver without feeling preachy. This movie is an indictment of the working public and the economy of the United States as a whole. William is out of work after being let go from his job and was told he is no longer economically viable since he is older and more expensive to pay than the person who was to be hired in place of him, a younger and cheaper worker. It's about how companies treat their workers, laying people off to get cheaper and cheaper labor, then turning around and charging more for their products and not treating their customers like they matter. When you phrase it like this, we agree with William. This movie was made in 1993 and this problem still exists in America! If that's not enough to make you go crazy, too, well, we just don't know what will. Overall, this is a well balanced and well acted movie that we can and do watch time and time again when we need an antihero to root for.

My Rating: 9/10
BigJ's Rating: 9/10
IMDB's Rating: 7.6/10
Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 73%
Do we recommend this movie: ABSOLUTELY YES!!!
One year ago, we were watching:


  1. I love this film. The writers, director and Michael Douglas were perfect. They were able to capture how people feel and how we wish we could react; to traffic, gangs, rich snobs etc. I love films where the bad guy is also the hero

    1. This really is a fantastic movie. We love bad guy hero movies, too!