Bil’s rating (out of 5): BB.5.
France/USA/United Kingdom, 1993. Alcor Films, Canal+, Regency Enterprises, Warner Bros.. Screenplay by Ebbe Roe Smith. Cinematography by Andrzej Bartkowiak. Produced by Timothy Harris, Arnold Kopelson, Herschel Weingrod. Music by James Newton Howard. Production Design by Barbara Ling. Costume Design by Marlene Stewart. Film Editing by Paul Hirsch. Cannes Film Festival 1993.
Michael Douglas is stuck in traffic on a super hot day in L.A. and decides he’s mad as hell and not going to take it anymore. Busting up after an altercation with a Korean store owner who is the victim of Douglas’ ignorant racism, our “hero” then takes to the streets, gets revenge on gangsters and rides to the opposite side of the law with only one goal in mind: to get to the home of his ex-wife (Barbara Hershey) and give his daughter a birthday present. This would be a wonderful, tension-relieving social drama if it weren’t overly directed within an inch of its life at every single turn. Director Joel Schumacher emphasizes unnaturally bright, nearly colour-coded lighting and a few too many convenient circumstances that prevent any revelation of the unease that he so desperately wants to mine. Hershey tells a cop near the beginning of the film that her ex has had problems with his temper and with violence in the past: how are we sympathizing with the psychological breakdown of an average man when he’s already had this problem before the film began? Instead of tapping the nerve of society’s brittle veneer of civility and exploding with passionate rage, Falling Down is just a mediocre indulgence for the passively vindictive, a stylish movie with some moments of unabashed violence that is simpler than it pretends to be, and more than a little bit elitist.