Falling Down

Directed by Joel Schumacher, Falling Down follows Michael Douglas’ Bill Foster as he essentially snaps during a traffic jam and subsequently embarks on a violent journey towards his ex-wife’s (Barbara Hershey’s Beth) beachfront home – with the narrative also detailing the efforts of a retiring cop (Robert Duvall’s Prendergast) at tracking down Foster before he can reach said home. It’s a somewhat high-concept premise that’s employed to consistently engrossing effect by filmmaker Schumacher, as the director, working from a script by Ebbe Roe Smith, does a superb job of immediately establishing Douglas’ irate character and transforming him into an impressively captivating figure – with this vibe certainly enhanced by Douglas’ often spellbinding turn as the movie’s far-from-heroic protagonist. And while Foster’s exploits are generally the highlight, Falling Down benefits quite substantially from the ongoing emphasis on Prendergast’s investigation into and encroaching pursuit of the progressively dangerous suspect – with the movie, as a result, boasting a feeling of palpable escalation that grows more and more difficult to resist. The conclusion is perhaps just a little too neat and tidy, admittedly, and yet it’s not enough to diminish what’s generally a stirring drama rife with top-notch performances and memorable, almost iconic sequences.

***1/2 out of ****

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