A sweltering day, a traffic jam on the highways of Los Angeles, and a man who is losing everything he loved — this is the scenario presented in 1993’s Falling Down which has newly arrived on Blu-Ray.
Michael Douglas plays the main character Bill Foster or D-FENS (his license plate), a defense worker in L.A. who has lost his job. The stresses of his life and his obsessive personality have also lost him his wife, house, and child to divorce. Sitting in his car during a road stoppage on an exceptionally hot day, Foster decides he has had enough and leaves his car behind. "I’m going home" is all he says to the other commuters as he leaves.
This is the start of his ever-downward spiraling journey as he travels on foot trying to reach his home. Foster is obviously a damaged man — his quick bursts of anger, indignant rage, and confused guilt are a clear demonstration of this. As he travels he attacks a Korean store owner, confronts gang members, holds up a fast food restaurant just to get breakfast, and continues to descend into further chaotic situations.
Foster’s outlook is certainly shared by many people. Why do we pay higher and higher prices? Why is road work done unnecessarily during rush hour? Why can we not feel safe walking through a park whenever we want? We would react differently (I hope), but Foster has lost his grip, his patience and his willingness to take what the world gives him.
Shadowing Foster’s descent is a soon to be retired Detective Martin Prendergast (Robert Duvall). Prendergast pieces together that Foster is the one causing all the chaos in L.A. and pursues him. Prendergast is committed to protecting Foster’s wife and child and also to try and stop Foster’s rampage through L.A. Prendergast has his own concerns, with his paranoid and nagging wife being the reason he is retiring early.
Prendergast has a much more rational take on the situation and is a stark contrast to Foster. While Foster is manic, Prendergast is calm. He speaks with care and moves with control. Robert Duvall adds much to the role and the movie with his understated but quality acting. Michael Douglas is excellent in this film as well; he brings an intensity to Foster that few actors could accomplish. He takes an at times negative character and makes him an anti-hero who has us sympathizing when he says, “I’m the bad guy? How did that happen?”