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Overall Rating
4

Awesome: 33.7%
Worth A Look41.3%
Average: 19.57%
Pretty Bad: 2.17%
Total Crap: 3.26%

5 reviews, 62 user ratings


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Falling Down
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by Brian McKay

"D-FENS! D-FENS!"
4 stars

Nobody plays a button-down white-collar psycho like Michael Douglas, and "Falling Down" is definitely some of his finest work in that regard. Although he plays a shirt-and-tie wearing flat-topped nutjob who goes on an L.A. shooting spree (after losing his job and being shunned by his wife and child), you can't help but love the guy. I mean, if you were at a phone booth and some asshole behind you gave you shit about being on a call for too long, wouldn't you just love to pull out a Mac-10 and shoot the phone up, then say "I think it's out of order."? It's hard not to root for this embodiment of white man's angst, because he does all the crazy shit you wish you could.

Douglas plays Bill Foster, a.k.a. "D-FENS". He is nicknamed so due to his personalized license plate. Formerly a prosperous defense contract worker with a wife (Barbara Hershey) and daughter, he ends up losing it all due to his increasingly erratic behavior. One day, while stuck in freeway gridlock in the sweltering L.A. heat, something finally snaps. He abandons his car in the road and begins walking "home". It's his little girl's birthday, and he'll be damned if anyone's going to get in his way. Along his journey, he runs into several annoying assholes that any one of us would like to bitchslap in real life. Arrogant store owners and snide fast-food workers, posturing gang members and pompous country-club golfers, a militant nazi survivalist, and the aforementioned phone booth guy: All will feel the wrath of D-Fens as he serves them up a hot, fresh ass-whooping while delivering up lines like:

"You think I'm a thief? I'm not the thief. I'm not the one charging 85 cents for a STINKING SODA! You're the thief! I'm just standing up for my rights as a consumer. I'm rolling prices back to 1965."

As D-Fens makes his way across L.A. leaving a wake of assaulted a-holes and damaged property, he begins to pick up more and more firepower, like a character in some first-person shooter video game - from a baseball bat to a knife to assault rifles to a LAWS rocket launcher. Along the way he calls his wife to let her know that he's coming to see his little girl for her birthday - in spite of the restraining order against him. She, in turn, calls the police. They show little sympathy towards her situation since there is no actual history of physical violence in the family, despite her conviction that he is more than capable of it.

Meanwhile, while various cops are investigating the wake of assaults, vandalism, and gunplay, only Detective Pendergast (Robert Duvall) is smart enough to put together the fact that these crimes are all being committed by the same guy. Pendergast is a likeable, believable character who is unfortunately hampered by two things - A nuerotic nagging bitch-wife from Hell (Tuesday Weld, who has seen better days), and the extremely tired Hollywood cliche' of it being his "last day on the job, this close to retirement" blah blah blah. As if we didn't get enough of that with Danny Glover in every fucking "Lethal Weapon" movie. One thing he does have going for him is ex-partner Sandra (Rachel Ticotin from "Total Recall"- whatever happened to her, anyway?). It is obvious that the two have a close relationship, although the question of "were they lovers or not?" is never fully adressed, much less answered. Naturally, she follows another Hollywood cop tradition, sticking her neck out to help Pendergast follow up on his unorthodox hunches.

"Falling Down" is not an "action" picture per-se (High bullet count,low body count), but rather a statement film about violence in society, or the dehumanization of corporate america, or the kind of volatile mental instability that can lurk behind a facade of normalcy - take your pick. I just enjoy it as the story of a guy who gets fed up and decides to not put up with any more shit. Douglas plays the role with a cold deftness, and while you want to cheer for him on the screen, he's the kind of guy that would make you think "clock-tower" if you ever met him. Still, he delivers up some great one-liners, and it's fun to watch him break things. Of course, D-Fens must ultimately face up to his actions. When you shoot up half the city, the cops will eventually catch up to you. But the ending, where D-Fens realizes "I'm the bad guy? how did that happen?" seems stilted, as if the filmmakers are saying "we must openly condemn him while we secretly admire him."

D-Fens's shooting spree eventually gets tiresome, and the way Pendergast manages to put all the pieces together is just a little too quick and neat to be credible. But despite its mediocre ending, its an intriguing romp through the seedy urban guts of L.A., as well as the mind of that average white-collar Joe you see every day but never stop and talk to because you're afraid you might hear him go "tick - tick - tick"

link directly to this review at https://www.efilmcritic.com/review.php?movie=4296&reviewer=258
originally posted: 11/26/01 09:20:48
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User Comments

3/18/19 kevin just as powerfull as when it first came out 5 stars
9/16/17 morris campbell well made oddball goes of the deep end flick 3 stars
4/13/16 Dr. Lao "I'm a white, middle class man! How DARE reality not cater to me!" 1 stars
1/15/15 david froman douglas and duvall have done better 3 stars
8/22/11 Chris F Excellent film and never a boring moment 5 stars
1/20/11 Chilliday Good film, but this review gives away too much of it! 4 stars
9/24/10 PAUL SHORTT FASCINATING, INTENSE DRAMA WITH GREAT PERFORMANCES 4 stars
4/16/10 Zing Reflections on this film always seem to be reflections on the viewer making them. 5 stars
5/27/09 Not Economically Viable Imperfect but, like Taxi Driver, shows us where violent outcasts come from 4 stars
5/25/09 art THIS" DEFENSE" WAS A SUICIDAL MANIAC!,so much for this movie! 1 stars
12/16/08 spongekill D-fens is what he is, not necessarily meant to be cheered on or hated, just observed. 5 stars
8/07/08 action movie fan very good film of ordinary man pushed to the limit-engrossing and memorable 5 stars
3/05/08 art mike douglas goes from "DEATH WISH" TO "RAMBO"A WILD STORY 3 stars
2/05/08 Georg My favourite. Socially critical and morale while amusing, great acting, subtle story 5 stars
11/20/07 rob watching it now! Highly recommended. Isnt D-FENS in all of us to some small degree? 5 stars
8/02/07 Quigley Very interesting story of one man's descent. Douglas is great. Got a little long at times 4 stars
12/30/06 Brian This movie isn't crap. It's one of the funniest movies ever made. 5 stars
11/25/06 deej amazing film, looked at the cover thought boring, then you watch it "Im the theif?!" 5 stars
8/23/06 David Cohen Mike Douglas has hissy fit, Schumacher films it, how could it be anything but total crap? 1 stars
4/28/06 Sugarfoot People often mistake this as a vigilante psycho film, but it's really a sharp black comedy. 4 stars
12/12/05 gray try making a film like this about teens and see what happens 5 stars
11/29/05 Sameer Siruguri pretty intense, though not a great movie. Douglas has a pretty good role and so does Duvall 4 stars
11/02/05 Gene Best golf movie ever...DFENS ROCKS...everyone else in the movie is an annoying shill 5 stars
7/23/05 Brandy Harrington Awesome movie. TAKE REVENGE ON THIS HYPOCRTICAL SHITHOLE SOCIETY! 5 stars
7/03/05 Jay Norris It shows that it doesn't take racism, poverty or powermongering to make one take a stand! 5 stars
5/28/05 Indrid Cold A unique, darkly hilarious drama. Somehow it's not quite a classic though. 4 stars
4/15/05 Raymond Montoya A great movie. a must see 5 stars
1/30/05 Jeff Anderson A Joel Schumacher & Michael Douglas film WORTH REMEMBERING! Both their best film to date!!! 5 stars
1/11/05 peter Very underated movie ...."You forgot your briefcase" priceless! 5 stars
7/12/04 Stuart Excellent movie, great acting by Douglas - sad ending 5 stars
4/21/04 Daveman Ponderous, lacks focus and direction, shamelessly demonises Douglas' character in the end. 2 stars
3/31/04 true review - correct review everytime great dialogue and social commentary, funny and poignant as well as darkly relative 5 stars
3/26/04 Mars 2071 'D-FENS' is the best vigilante ever 5 stars
3/18/04 Umbrella Corporation. A great subsitute before Schumacher's other glasses wearing morale vigilante (Phone BOOTH)! 5 stars
3/17/04 PAYNE_KillerZ D-FENS... What a concept!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! 5 stars
3/16/04 Andrew Felton makes manifest emotions simmering beneath the artificial veneer of social order 5 stars
2/24/04 LIAM JACKSON D-FENS is the ultimate urban hero. 5 stars
11/08/03 David "AND NOW YOU'RE GONNA DIE, WEARING THAT STUPID LITTLE HAT, HOW DOES IT FEEL?!?" 5 stars
6/13/03 VZA very cool film: great audio-visual effects, a bit flat story 4 stars
6/04/03 brendan scher fantastic 5 stars
3/23/03 filmsbuff A good idea, but it could have been done much better. 4 stars
1/31/03 Mister Bigglesworth No pronounce it with me: "pre-dic-table" 2 stars
1/16/03 mattyfresh I'm glad other people relate to D-Fens as welll 5 stars
10/17/02 Charles Tatum Douglas does what many of us think about doing 5 stars
4/22/02 Spyguy2 Overwrought drama that's in over it's head. Slightly better than made-for-tv. Just slighty 3 stars
3/07/02 R.W. Welch Parable of a cornered Everyman that keeps your interest and moves well. 4 stars
12/11/01 slappy jacks i ejoyed this movie a lot but i must agree the pedegrass pars were a bit blah 4 stars
12/02/01 Flip Kromer Really really good, Possibly great, Just barely not All-time 4 stars
11/30/01 The $1.98 Pyramid The everyday man who snaps just turned out to be a nutcase who thinks he snaped. 4 stars
10/16/01 MaMaFaC FUCKING ROCKS 5 stars
10/13/01 The Bomb 69 solid beginning started to unravel at the end and become silly 4 stars
8/20/01 Monster W. Kung Interesting idea and script get almost ruined by awful ending a-la "we have to condemn him" 3 stars
8/10/01 E-Funk Joel Schumacher's best film. Douglas is perfect as always. very sad. 5 stars
7/26/01 Gizzy Got sillier as it went along. Huge potential - perhaps a better script? 4 stars
6/14/01 David I liked the golf course scene, it defines his character the most. 4 stars
2/04/01 Invader This movie touches on the surpressed motives that drive us all, a good effort allround 4 stars
10/24/00 looser good 4 stars
8/28/00 bedwards great performances set in a missed opportunity - blame screenwriter more than director 4 stars
8/16/00 Larwence G. Allotta A brilliant film that depicts the true underside of civilized life in America. 5 stars
6/29/00 Terrie Smith Hey, something like this could happen to anyone; Douglas carries it off. 4 stars
6/20/00 D-Fens I want you to tell me there's nothing wrong with the road... 5 stars
3/25/00 John Owen Seriously flawed and kind of stupid 3 stars
IF YOU'VE SEEN THIS FILM, RATE IT!
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USA
  01-Feb-1993 (R)

UK
  N/A (18)

Australia
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