Plot: What’s it about?
“I’m going home.” Stuck in bumper to bumper traffic on the hottest day of the year with no movement in sight, those are words Bill Foster (Michael Douglas) utters when someone ask him where he is going. Leaving his car in the middle of the lane, he just starts walking. Tired of the screaming kids, glaring heat, loud car horns, and flashing “DELAY” road signs, Foster abondons his car right in traffic and starts to head home, with only his brief-case to keep him company. Unbeknowest to Foster, only a few cars back is a veteran cop (Robert Duvall), waiting out his last day on the force. Noticing the personalized plates on Foster’s car, “D-FENS”, Duvall returns to the police station.
“We’re rolling back prices to 1965!” As Foster tries to call his wife throughout the film, we slowly discover he is not welcome, and in fact, the two have been divorced, and Foster is having trouble realizing it is really over. Out of change, he enters a small grocery store asking to break a dollar for the pay phone. He puts a Coke on the counter, but does not like the inflated price, so he destroys the man’s shop before paying his price for the drink, .50. At the same time, Duvall is having his own marital issues, as his wife screams at him to come home early. Duvall assures her by signing “London Bridge Is Falling Down”, and returns to work. After the attack on the store is reported, Duvall realizes both the abadon car and store attack may be by the same guy. But no one listens to the aging cop, and Foster continues his attempt to return “home.”
“I’m just standing up for my rights…as a consumer.” After a series of encounters with different stress groups in Foster’s life (gang members, a bum, racial hatred), a pattern develops that Duvall cannot ignore, and he starts his search with a female friend on the force. All the while, both men keep in touch with their wives, even though Foster’s is not his wife anymore. Duvall’s wife begs and pleads for him to come home, whereas Foster’s ex begs and pleads for him to stay away. The two finally have their stand off, but who will win, if there really is a winner?
“I’m the bad guy?” Falling Down is a dark movie, taking a look at how the world has changed around one select man. One moment, Foster is making missiles, and helping to protect America and it’s freedom, the next he is the bad guy. This idea is onthat Foster has serious trouble with, and I think he associates it with a parellel theme in his personal life. One minute, he is a great husband and father, the next he is being served with divorce papers. But, what troubles Foster is that he never changed, so how could all this be his fault? The world changed, and Bill Foster had to suffer because of it, at least in his eyes. He is not a hero, by any means however. He refuses to change with the times, as evident by how he interacts with the urban populace. But it is easy to sympathize with the character, don’t get me wrong.
“Was he wearing a white shirt and a tie?” Bill Foster is not the typical movie psychopath, at least not when this movie came out. The idea of gang bangers, postal workers, or dirty, lower-class psychos is tried and true, but Falling Down shoots those stereotypes right out of the water. Bill Foster is a upper middle class working man. Dresses nice, suit pants, dress shirt and a tie, the kind of guy you’d trust in most situations. Clean cut, horn-rimmed glasses, carries a brief case, not exactly psychopathic stuff circa. 1993. That’s why this movie is so poignant, that could be anyone. Bill Foster could be your dad, your neighbor, hell, it could be you! If a regular guy can snap, no one is safe!
“London Bridge is Falling Down…” Robert Duvall’s character is far removed from Bill Foster, to say the least. He is retiring early from the police force, mainly due to his nagging wife, and moving to Arizona, the town where the original London Bridge was transported to. He seems to be behind the times, working behind a desk, his younger co-workers ribbing him constantly. Much different than Bill Foster right? WRONG! That’s the point of this movie! Given the exact same circumstances, Duvall could have snapped, just like Foster. He is behind the times, has a nagging home life, can’t see his daughter, hell…sounds just like Bill Foster! One minute Duvall is protecting society as a police officer, but what about the next? Will he snap by the end of this movie? You never know…it could be anyone!
“Have you ever heard the expression…The Customer Is Always Right?” The cast of Falling Down is basically four main roles, with a few smaller, but important roles. Obviously Duvall and Douglas head-line, with good reason. These two show why they are former Oscar winning Best Actors, playing their roles in Falling Down to the letter, perfect. Douglas is scary as hell if you ask me, this is one of my all time favorite performances, without a doubt. Duvall is also excellent, matching Douglas stroke for stroke. Playing Duvall’s nervous house wife is Tuesday Weld. Weld is convincing, and whines and tirades as good as any women I’ve seen, but in honesty I’m not too familar with her work, so it might be a good/bad personal performance. But, I think she does a great job. As Bill Foster’s ex-wife, Barbara Hershey is fantastic in small, but pivotal role. She does not have a lot to say, but she does her job quite well. Frederic Forest and Rachel Ticotin also have roles of noteable size, and carry their weight among the masterpiece acting of Douglas and Duvall.
“I would have got ya.” Falling Down is a true masterpiece, filled with great acting, superb writing, and hey, it’s a good Joel Shumacher movie, how often does that happen anymore? If you’ve ever been stuck in traffic and wanted to find out what was really wrong with the road, watch this flick. Because Bill Foster not only asks that question, but every other question too. Watching the tension build as Duvall closes in on old D-FENS is classic cinema, and their show down is even better. It’s a dark, somewhat sad movie, but watch it, it’s also a magical look into the rapid changes America underwent in the 80’s-90’s. You will appreciate just being able to think of what Bill Foster would do in one of your own stress-filled situations. But only think about it…ok?
Video: How does it look?
This Warner Brothers release contains both anamorphic widescreen (2.35:1) and full frame versions of the film, which is a nice choice to have. Even though I am sure I will never watch the full frame edition, it’s nice to know it’s there, in case Hell ever does in fact freeze over. The transfer is flawless, and although the film has a smoky texture to it, it’s intentional due to the outdoor scenes, filled with pollution. No artifacts or grain, and the color levels are dead on, the shadow layering is perfect as well.
Audio: How does it sound?
Falling Down is heavily driven by dialogue, so the Dolby 2.0 stereo mix is sufficient, and when effects are used, it handles them well. The music is very cool, and the mix on this disc does a great job of showcasing it.
Supplements: What are the extras?
Just a theatrical trailer. Warner Brothers…you think I’m a thief? I’m not the one charging twenty bucks for a dvd with no features other than a trailer!!!!!!!! Sorry, I had to vent, ala Foster. But really, the inclusion of the trailer is nice, and not a given, as many readers think. I value trailers, and appreciate when they are packed in there.