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Falling Down (SE)
BLU-RAY disk
06.11.2009 By: Jason Adams
Falling Down (SE) order
Director:
Joel Schumacher

Actors:
Michael Douglas
Robert Duvall
Barbara Hershey

Rating:
Movie:
Extras:
Overall:

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WHAT'S IT ABOUT?
An unemployed man snaps one day while sitting in traffic and goes on a violent rampage across Los Angeles, rebelling against societyís ills.
IS IT A GOOD MOVIE?
Who hasnít at some point felt like they had enough? If youíve ever been treated rudely, had someone rip you off, or act intolerantly, thereís always that base instinct we feel in our gut of achieving justice. FALLING DOWN is a stripped down fantasy, a psychological horror movie where Michael Douglas gets to act out our sickest desires to correct the problems of society. Sure, the guy is already pretty much certifiable when the movie starts, but itís not hard to sympathize with him for many of his reactions to everything from gang violence to racism to crappy fast food. Itís the reason why revenge movies like TAKEN still do so well; people like to see other ďworseĒ people get whatís coming to them.

FALLING DOWN caused quite a stir when it was released and in the 15+ years since it seems like society has come full circle back to the filmís era. With our economy in the tubes and people and cultures divided more than ever, I canít think of a better time for this movie to be revisited. FALLING DOWN presents an honest portrayal of a downward spiral that seems all too possible in this day and age. And even though it connects emotionally to the audience, it doesnít glorify his actions. The violence and psychotic behavior in the film is ugly and uncomfortable. D-FENS is a sympathetic character for what heís been through, but we arenít supposed to sympathize with his violent rampage. Itís something Michael Douglas and director Joel Schumacher do well in the film: get audiences to quietly root for Douglas, but also fear him.

Iíd venture to Joel Schumacherís best movie. Granted, he hasnít done a whole lot worth noting since, but just look at the opening scene of FALLING DOWN. Itís a masterfully shot scene with echoes of Fellini. You donít expect that from the director of BATMAN AND ROBIN. However, the movie rightfully belongs to Michael Douglas, who gets lost in the role of D-FENS. His deconstruction of the character is subversive and powerful and I still think the man missed out on many worthy awards.

Itís not a perfect film by any means. I would love to see the film without Robert Duvallís cop protagonist, whoís a walking clichťóthe old police officer about to retire who takes on one last case and puts everything together way too quickly. His subplot is nowhere near as interesting or necessary to the plot. Still, itís a bold film and a timely one, thatís impressive merely for the fact that it got made in the Hollywood system.
THE EXTRAS
As I said, FALLING DOWN is still a timely film today, so Iím glad it got a decent enough treatment on Blu Ray. The booklet is fantastic, although Iíd like a few more special features on the discs themselves.

Commentary by Michael Douglas, Joel Schumacher, writer Ebbe Roe Smith, and editor Paul Hirsch: Thereís some good info here (especially from Schumacher, who speaks more intelligently about the film than I expected), but itís one of those commentaries where everyone is recorded separately, which makes it a less entertaining listen. Also, Douglasí section isnít even a commentary, but sound bites from an interview he did in 1993.

Deconstructing D-FENS: A Conversation with Michael Douglas: While the commentary is old, this interview with the man is fairly new. Looking back, Douglas is still obviously proud and speaks highly of the film and character.

A Theatrical Trailer

The Blu Ray also comes with a 34-page Book with a background of the project, critical reviews and trivia info. A nice addition to the package.
FINAL DIAGNOSIS
FALLING DOWN features a stellar performance from Michael Douglas and a thrilling story thatís equal parts entertainment and social commentary, and still relevant now. Weíll even let Joel Schumacher out of director jail to throw some praise his way too.

Extra Tidbit: Ironically, the LA riots took place during the filming of this movie.
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