Falling Down

Falling Down (1992)
Warner Home Video
Cast: Michael Douglas, Robert Duvall, Barbara Hershey, Rachel Ticotin
Extras: Commentary Track, Booklet, Interview Featurette, Theatrical Trailer

Among all his performances in his long career, Michael Douglas' remarkable portrayal of Bill Foster in Joel Schumacher's 1992 thrilling drama "Falling Down" is certainly one of the most memorable. Warner Home Video has now prepared a Blu-Ray version of the film and offers it up in a cool book-style packaging that also includes a 36-page booklet. Clearly, this release was among the must-see titles of the week.

As he has on many mornings before, Bill Foster (Michael Douglas) is stuck in the LA rush hour traffic. As the sweltering heat builds and cars are lined up bumper to bumper, never moving an inch, Foster is overtaken by anxiety and an anger attack. The frustration as been building within him for years and on this morning it simply boils over – a feeling many of us can certainly connect with.

However, Foster is not an ordinary man, and his anger is fueled even more when finds that Los Angeles is an incredibly unfriendly and hostile place. A convenience store clerk refuses to break a dollar for him into quarters so he can make a phone call. "You have to buy something," he advises. Foster buys a can of soda, only to find that the item is outrageously overpriced and would leave him with not enough change to make his call. Aggravated at the clerk's unwillingness to cooperate with him, Foster snaps and his anger turns into a rage, particularly when the clerk begins to threaten him with a baseball bat. Foster wrestles the bat from him and smashes the store's overpriced inventory.

He makes his way down a few blocks and sits down to take a breather, only to find that he is in gang territory and he didn't ask permission to sit down. Now his rage turns into fury as he pounds the baseball bat into the gangsters and makes the flee with whimpers. From thereon things escalate dramatically. Wherever Foster goes, he finds nothing but hostility, fanaticism, prejudice and a complete lack of compassion.

His acts of rage attract the police, of course, and soon, Foster is being classified as an extremely dangerous individual on the loose that has to be stopped at any cost.

If you ever feel like you're having a bad day, think again. As I said before, it is easy to understand what makes Foster snap in the movie, although his spree of fury and violence is clearly not the way normal people deal with such situations. Nonetheless, it is this understanding that connects viewers to Foster's character in the film, and although we know how the film will inevitably end, we have strong feelings for Foster, both compassion and disbelief as he goes over the edge so violently.
Michael Douglas puts in an incredible performance in this movie, layering Foster with both a clear common sense, yet at the same time opening up a black abyss in his soul where his demons lurk, breaking forth one by one, one incident at a time.
Robert Duvall plays a cop on his last day on the job who quickly realizes that these seemingly random reports of violence all lead to the same man. Driven, he becomes obsessed with making sure he puts an end to this rampage before the day is out.

Joel Schumacher's brutal commentary on the state of our urban society is absolutely breath-taking in part also because of its realism. The look and feel of the film is every bit as real as the events we witness. The nutcase neo-nazis, the gang members who think they own the world, the minimum wage fast food employees who will do only what they're being told, the teenage beggars who scam people instead of getting a job, all that comes across as natural and real as the shimmering heat off the sidewalk.

Warner Home Video is now presenting "Falling Down" in a glorious 1080p high definition transfer and it is exactly what the doctor ordered. Restoring the gritty look of the film in every one of its tiny nuances, the transfer is sharp and holds an incredible level of detail, down to the last grain of sliver nitrate in the film stock. The color reproduction is so natural that you can't help but feeling you are right there, in the middle of the action, feeling the numbing, breezeless heat of Los Angeles on a summer day. The transfer's solid black level gives the image visual depth, rendering an image the has dimension and style.

To accommodate the film, Warner has added a Dolby Digital 2.0 TrueHD audio track. With its aggressive ambient sound mix, the track is very active, yet in a subtle way, creating an audio presentation that nicely reflects urban bustle without cheap showmanship. Dialogues are well integrated and root the presentation while James Newton Howard's score adds just the right flair and drama to the mix.

"Falling Down" also contains some bonus materials. As I mentioned in the opening, the packaging comes with a full-color booklet featuring production notes and biographies, as well as trivia and liner notes. The disc itself, contains a commentary track by director Joel Schumacher and Michael Douglas, offering up a very interesting and thought-provoking discussion of the film and the subject matter itself. Also included is an interview featurette with Michael Douglas, as well as the movie's theatrical trailer.

"Falling Down" is a harsh and gritty movie, but one that touches. Its very essence is something we can all relate to, the frustrations of every day life and how they seem to be getting worse with every passing day. Now available on Blu-Ray Disc, "Falling Down" is definitely a film you may want to check out.