Falling Down (1993) Movie Review Part 1 ~ By Sam


“Falling Down” is proof that not all Joel Schumacher films suck, mainly just his Batman movies.

Falling down is a great movie that I believe should be known as a classic, among the ranks of the Scarface, “Die Hard”, and other timeless must see movies. (That is the quick review should you read no more.)

“Falling Down” is a self proclaimed “tale of urban reality”, which has a meaning that becomes more clear as you watch the movie.

The movie feels like an epic of the life of William Foster, his decline from normality into the destructive being he is by the end of the film. William Foster, played by Michael Douglas, is listed in the credits as “D-fens” which is also the name on the vanity plate of his car, the name has a meaning which is later revealed in the movie. Almost all of the background information of the character is revealed in one point close to the end. This is good because it leaves the character mysterious and much more interesting than it would if they revealed the information earlier on.

The Character of William Foster is what really pushes the movie towards greatness, and the portrayal of the character of William Foster by Michael Douglas solidifies the character as one of the greatest movie characters and is one I would like to know more about. He will be on my upcoming top ten list “top ten most interesting characters.”

The movie starts when D-fens is pretty much at his breaking point already but is still retaining shreds of dignity and self respect, as well as shards of his sanity.

The film starts with D-fens in his car stuck in grid-lock traffic, he freaks out and ends up running from his car off through a small forest and onto main roads in a very bad part of town, leaving his car in the way of the traffic, which also introduces the largest sub-character detective Prendergast played by Robert Duval. D-fens has a small suitcase with him as he walks through the streets and the case plays two key roles in establishing his character:

#1. Men try to take his briefcase and he wont have it. He stands up for himself and ends up beating them back and leaves with his briefcase and one of their knives which I will mention again shortly. He almost gets killed trying to keep his briefcase and he is well aware of what will happen to him if he doesn’t give it to them. This makes you very interested to know what is inside the case.

#2 The briefcase helps developing his character. He later gives away his briefcase to a bum saying “I don’t need it anymore” when the bum opens the case it only contains a sandwich and an apple. Now I believe this means two things. The first is to show how the case itself wasn’t what he was trying to preserve, it was the idea behind it. It wouldn’t matter whether the case was empty or whether it contained a million dollars, he would defend it the same, for the principles behind it.

The second thing that this establishes comes from the line he said “I don’t need it anymore.” I think the briefcase in a way represents what is left of his humanity or perhaps normality. This is after he has the gun bag and in a way him keeping the gun bag and leaving the suitcase he started with shows how he passed the point of no return and that he has traded his old lifestyle choices for his new found attitude. Soon after he ditches the suitcase he also changes his clothes into an old army jumpsuit and his glasses get broken. By this point he has completely changed throughout the movie, he doesn’t even look the same as he did in the beginning, the rest of the movie before this he looks extremely out of place in geeky glasses and a white shirt and tie and now he has transformed into what he finds is actually more rewarding.

D-fens has a very interesting progression, even down to the terms of his weapon progression. He begins with no weapon then takes a baseball bat from a man whose shop he destroys. Next he takes a butterfly knife from some gang members, then a large gym bag full of guns, and later he even finds a rocket launcher. The progression was very interesting and complimented his personal progression into the being he is by the end of the film.

End of Part 1


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