FALLING DOWN touched a raw chord with many when it came out in 1993, after a dozen numbing years of God & The Devil (Ronnie & George I). The roughly 30% of reviewers who tsk-tsk’d, insisting it played to White Fear, linking it with the Death Wish-sequels spawn, or who weren’t in the mood for its dark comedy mixed with payback, missed the point. People were no longer merely worried about crime like they’d been when Bronson & Eastwood started mowing down thugs in the 70s. By this point everybody was just plain fed up to the hairline with stupidity raining in from every direction.
Douglas on his character: “There’s a lot of people who are a paycheck away from being on the streets and being out of work who did everything right, they’ve been responsible, they tried hard, they don’t know what went wrong! We won the war, where’s it all at?”
Racism and violence (from all shades of the spectrum), bureaucratic idiocy, fake cheerfulness (“Have a nice day!”–I will as soon as I get away from you ), NOISE (!@#$%^&*), rude clerks, aggressive drivers—how long need the list stretch? Who was really happy at home and/or work? Send out a search party….
Michael Douglas was by then the reigning Everyman champ for essaying male urban anxiety, adding his repertoire from the Cocaine Age jitters to that of the Migraine Closet formerly occupied by William Holden, Glenn Ford and Jack Lemmon. His biggest competitor was maybe Harrison Ford, but Ford will always be more linked to Han Solo and Indiana Jones than his serious bids, while Douglas pretty much nailed Blind Greed (Wall Street), Blond Panic (Basic Instinct) and Fear of Rabbit Stew (Fatal Attraction).
Here, he’s an aerospace engineer who has that One Moment Too Many, leaves his car on a jammed freeway and starts to simply walk home—across Los Angeles. The damned populace gets in his way. He endeavors to instruct those he encounters in the concept of decorum.
The storyline of his odyssey tracks with that of retiring detective Robert Duvall, who gets the case of the mystery vigilante hiker as his last-day-on-the-job duty.
Spouses are Barbara Hershey and Tuesday Weld (superb). Help or hindrance, over the provocative 113 minutes directed by Joel Schumacher, is provided through Rachel Ticotin, Frederic Forrest (creep-out alert !), Vondie Curtis Hall and Raymond J. Barry. Produced for $25,000,000, it tagged 36th place back in ’93, grossing $40,900,000.