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Falling Down

Falling Down (1993)
Dir. Joel Schumacher

Minor spoilers below.

Managed to not see this for a very long time. Late last night, I finally got a chance to watch it and I'm glad I did. As a writer myself, I'm constantly trying to find the science behind movies I love and why exactly I love them.

Falling Down proves how completely vital character introductions, memorable first scenes and relatability are to grabbing you by the collar of your shirt, telling you that you're going to sit through this entire thing and you're going to like it.

Instantly, we are thrown into a complete nightmare of a situation. Dead stop traffic. Sweltering heat. Sharing the road with a bunch of mouthbreathing morons. D-Fens (Michael Douglas) feels like the only sane person around and so do we. We are one with the main character. The hilarious move he pulls here to break out of this scene just further cements it. The hook has been set masterfully. You're in for a fun ride.

The second act of this movie definitely shines. Originally, I was going to point out that I found some of the common man frustrations to be a tad dated. But, the more I think about it, I realize that's just wrong. A lot of what our protagonist is fed up with still applies today. Everything's too damn expensive, you can't walk the streets of your own neighborhood without being accosted by some punks, etc. (Don't want to spoil too much). As we press on though, we begin to realize that maybe we wouldn't have taken the same routes to justice as our anti-hero has.

The film toes the line well here and manages to keep you on D-Fens's side despite some questionable actions. It's understandable. He's had a hell of a day. But soon, your patience is tested. Sure, we're having a fun romp throughout the inner city and disposing of those we think don't deserve to walk the streets anymore. But, these phone calls are getting strange. His recklessness is skyrocketing. Slowly but surely, he's transforming into a full blown sociopath.

Featuring a bizarrely funny performance by Robert Duvall as Prendergast, an old police department inside-man who just so happens to be retiring the day D-Fens decides to go nuts, this movie is an absolute classic. Falling Down is well known and well regarded for it's dark humor and self-aware tone. But I think the real victory here, is managing to slowly peel the layers back in a way that you can almost miss if you're caught just looking at the surface.

FINAL VERDICT: A classic in every way. My personal favorite of Joel Schumacher's. And maybe my favorite Michael Douglas movie as well.