Falling Down (Blu-ray)

January 28, 2012 7 Min Read

Review by: Matt Brighton

Plot: What’s it about?

Did you ever have one of those days when nothing was going your way? Did you ever want to just get out of your car, start assaulting anyone who got in your way and have no regard for your actions? Ok, probably not in regards to the latter question. Still, though, that’s the essential plot in “Falling Down” which I can still remember seeing in theaters some fifteen years ago. At the time, Michael Douglas was still riding his hot streak from the previous year’s “Basic Instinct” but unlike his co-star of that film, Sharon Stone, Michael Douglas had a career (and a Best Actor Oscar) before that little film. Joel Schumacher’s brilliant along with Ebbe Roe Smith’s screenplay combined to make “Falling Down” a “Network” of sorts for the 1990’s. Just how far can one man bend before he finally snaps? We find the answer to that question in “Falling Down.”

William “D-FENS” (Michael Douglas) has been laid off from his job. Yet he still gives the illusion of going to work every day, briefcase and all. He’s stuck in LA gridlock, construction workers doing their thing and all of the sudden it happens. He turns his car off, gets out and starts his voyage to see his daughter on her birthday. But it’s what happens between the two points that makes the movie interesting. He encounters a Korean store owner who won’t give him change to make a phone call (this was before cell phones, remember) so he trashes the store. He encounters a gang and manages to get their bag of guns and he waltzes through a golf course giving another man a heart attack. All the while Det. Martin Prendergast (Robert Duvall) is retiring, but decides to pursue just one more lead. Will William make it home in time for his daughter’s birthday or will Prendergast get his man for the last time?

“Falling Down” is one of those movies that has really improved with time. It’s not like it was bad when it initially came out, but like “Network” the film serves as some sort of historical reminder that every man has their breaking point. Though William never really means anyone any actual harm in the film, he does act and think in a way that most of us don’t. Quite simply, there are rules that we’re all meant to follow and no matter how justified one’s intentions are; breaking those rules should have consequences. Though this is mainly Michael Douglas’ show, the supporting cast is fairly good as well. Namely Robert Duvall, who has his own demons with his wife (Tuesday Weld). If, by some chance, this movie has been eluded by you then there’s no time like the present to give it a shot, pardon the pun.

Video: How does it look?

Having seen this movie on pretty much every format available (VHS, LaserDisc and standard DVD) I was excited to see how this new Blu-ray version looked on my screen. To my surprise, the 2.40:1 VC-1 HD transfer was surprisingly colorful and bright. Detail is vastly improved over the other versions and since most of the action takes place outside during the day (the film takes place over the course of a morning and afternoon), there’s not a lot of “dark spots” that might lend to a fault in the image. The little beads of sweat on the character’s faces, the movement of the gas fumes in the air and the little nuances are all visible that give life to this film. I went in with my expectations low, but this transfer really surprised me.

Audio: How does it sound?

It’s no typo; this Blu-ray contains a Dolby TrueHD 2.0 track which is somewhat of a contradiction in terms. Though the audio sounded about average, I really didn’t hear a lot of action out of the rear channels. It’s not a total loss, though, as most of this movie is dialogue-driven with only a few key scenes that could benefit from a full 5.1 soundtrack. I’m not really sure why this movie has been given this type of soundtrack as I’m sure a full 5.1 mix exists but nevertheless, this is what we’ve got to work with on this disc.

Supplements: What are the extras?

“Falling Down” is another entry into Warner’s “DigiPak” line of films. By and large, these films are “critically ?acclaimed” and this film fits right into the mold of the others in this series. We start off with a very incisive commentary by director Joel Schumacher and Michael Douglas. The two work well together with Schumacher taking the lead on most everything. It’s a good and energetic track. Next up is the aptly-named “A Discussion with Michael Douglas” which is just that. Douglas gives us the low down on his character, thoughts on the screenplay and why he chose to do the part. It’s good and leaves us longing for just a bit more. Finally we get the original theatrical trailer as well as the30 page booklet with photos from the film, production notes and some essays on the movie.

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