A young and impatient stockbroker is willing to do anything to get to the top, including trading on illegal inside information taken through a ruthless and greedy corporate raider who takes the youth under his wing.
On the day of his daughter's (Joey Singer) birthday, William "D-Fens" Foster (Michael Douglas) is trying to get to his estranged ex-wife's (Barbara Hershey) house to see his daughter. He has a breakdown and leaves his car in a traffic jam in Los Angeles and decides to walk. Along the way he stops at a convenience store and tries to get some change for a phone call but the owner, Mister Lee (Michael Paul Chan), does not give him change. This destabilizes William who then breaks apart the shop with a baseball bat and goes to an isolated place to drink a coke. Two gangsters (Agustin Rodriguez & Eddie Frias) threaten him and he reacts by hitting them with the bat. D-FENS continues walking and stops at a phone booth. The gangsters hunt him down with their gang and shoot at him but crash their car. William goes nuts and takes their gym bag with weapons proceeding in his journey of rage against injustice. Meanwhile Sergeant Martin Prendergast (Robert Duvall), who is working on his last day ...Written by
Claudio Carvalho, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Asking for Prendergast's signature the delivery man says, "put your John Doe right here". A signature is often called a John Hancock, but never a John Doe, which is law-enforcement lingo for a male suspect whose name is not known. See more »
Take the hottest day of the year, a traffic gridlock, cracked pavements, dirty streets, unwarranted hostility and a general feeling of being short changed. Then add the frustrations of having an estranged wife and child, an extremely jaded and unbalanced mindset, and the frustration of being obsolete with no marketable skills. Set them against the decadent back drop of modern day LA where if you are 'Not economically viable,' you are of no use, and the result is Falling Down.
The tag line 'The Adventures of an Ordinary man at War with the Everyday World,' makes Joel Schumacher's masterpiece sound like the benign story of a working stiff with issues. However Falling Down is a dark and engrossing urban fable, a study into the mind of the disenfranchised and reminder to all that the removal of comfort is a lot closer than we care to believe.
Full of clichés, like the cop on his last day before retiring, Falling Down bravely meets all expectations of stereotypes, rather than challenging them, making for a realistic reflection of a failing society. Here, a man in extremis, without the feral cunning or killer instinct required for a life in the street, makes his way on anger and luck alone, somehow surviving to leave a paper chase of violence and destruction behind.
Relying heavily on symbolism, illustrating a flip side of America running parallel to the hunky dory world occupied by the successful, the over all message of 'No Matter, Never Mind,' is clear in this world where children play next to vagrants dying from AIDS and Korean grocers can legally steal from the public with their overpriced goods.
Michael Douglas displays some hitherto unseen talent as the unbalanced D-FENS, as he casually totes gang weapons (complete with rubber bands on the grips) in his formal shirt and tie, does battle with store owners and comes up against fast food restaurants, homeless people, gangsters and Nazis. Robert Duval is equally brilliant as the desk jockey on his final day, determined to stop anyone else from being hurt, including the perp.
There is, of course, a small amount of Hollywood sentimentality thrown in for good measure, however the dynamics of such a strong narrative make this completely forgivable and it's possible to overlook this as a flaw given the film's overall strengths.
Praise surely has to go to Ebbe Roe Smith for writing one of the finest scripts ever to grace celluloid. Known for bit parts and cameos, who the hell knows who Ebbe really is? Look on IMDb to find out (if you're a geek like me) or release him into the ether if you don't care. The truth is, he's out there. The question is: Where's the next script?
On the whole, Falling Down is a powerful and dramatic indictment of American culture, societal decadence, and the failing values of the West. It's not for everyone and will most certainly offend some, but if approached with an open mind, will provide plenty of fuel for thought.
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