Falling Down (1993)



Critic Consensus: No consensus yet.

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It's just not William Foster's (Michael Douglas) day. Laid off from his defense job, Foster gets stuck in the middle of the mother of all traffic jams. Desirous of attending his daughter's birthday party at the home of his ex-wife (Barbara Hershey), Foster abandons his car and begins walking, encountering one urban humiliation after another (the Korean shopkeeper who obstinately refuses to give change is the worst of the batch). He also slowly unravels mentally, finally snapping at a fast-food restaurant that refuses to serve him breakfast because it's "too late." Running amok with an arsenal of weapons at the ready, Foster -- also known as "D-FENS" because of his vanity license plate -- rapidly becomes a source of terror to some, a folk hero to others. It's up to reluctant cop Prendergast (Robert Duvall), on the eve of his retirement, to bring D-FENS down.
R (for violence and strong language.)
Action & Adventure , Drama , Mystery & Suspense
Directed By:
Written By:
In Theaters:
Warner Bros. Pictures

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Robert Duvall
as Det. Martin Prendergast
Tuesday Weld
as Mrs. Prendergast
Raymond J. Barry
as Capt. Yardley
D.W. Moffett
as Det. Lydecker
Steve Park
as Det. Brian
Mary Ella Ross
as Featured
Kimberly Scott
as Det. Jones
James Keane
as Det. Keene
Macon McCalman
as Det. Graham
Richard Montoya
as Det. Sanchez
Stephen Park
as Detective Brian
Bruce Beatty
as Police Clerk
Frederic Forrest
as Surplus Store Owner
Mathew Saks
as Officer At Station
Lois Smith
as D-Fens' Mother
Agustin Rodriguez
as Gang Member 1
Ebbe Roe Smith
as Guy on Freeway
Eddie Frias
as Gang Member 2
Pat Romano
as Gang Member 3
Fabio Urena
as Gang Member 4
Irene Olga Lopez
as Angie's Mother
Benjamin Mouton
as Uniformed Officer at Beth's
Dean Hallo
as Uniformed Officer's Partner
James Morrison
as Construction Sign Man by Bus Stop
John Fleck
as Seedy Guy in Park
Brent Hinkley
as Rick at Whammyburger
Dedee Pfeiffer
as Sheila at Whammyburger
Carol Androsky
as Woman Who Throws Up
Margaret Medina
as Lita the Waitress
Vondie Curtis-Hall
as Not Economically Viable Man
Mark Frank
as Annoying Man at Phone Booth
Peter Radon
as 1st Gay Man
Spencer Rochfort
as 2nd Gay Man
Carole Ita White
as 2nd Officer at Beth's
Russell Curry
as 2nd Officer's Partner
John Fink
as Guy Behind Woman Driver
Valentino Harrison
as Kid with Missile Launcher
Jack Betts
as Frank the Golfer
Al Mancini
as Jim the Golfer
John Diehl
as Dad at Back Yard Party
Amy Morton
as Mom at Back Yard Party
Abbey Barthel
as Trina at Back Yard Party
Susie Singer Carter
as Suzie the Stripper
Wayne Duvall
as Paramedic
Valisha Jean Malin
as Prendergast's Daughter
Jack Kehoe
as Street Worker
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Critic Reviews for Falling Down

All Critics (49) | Top Critics (11)

None of the characters ever rises beyond the level of his or her generic functions, and by the end the overall emptiness of the conception becomes fully apparent.

Full Review… | July 18, 2011
Chicago Reader
Top Critic

Let's face it, there is an element of truth in the character of D-FENS. But it is, finally, tabloid truth.

Full Review… | July 18, 2011
TIME Magazine
Top Critic

At first comes across like a mean-spirited black comedy and then snowballs into a reasonably powerful portrait of social alienation. The tone is unremittingly dour, however.

Full Review… | March 25, 2009
Top Critic

A real artist could make something incisive or darkly hilarious out of this moral tightrope act. Schumacher, veering recklessly between social satire, kick-ass fantasy and damsel-in-distress melodrama, plays the game for opportunistic cheap thrills.

Full Review… | March 30, 2008
Top Critic

Sometimes funny, sometimes touching, and certainly unnerving.

Full Review… | January 25, 2006
Time Out
Top Critic

It turns one man's slide toward madness into a wickedly mischievous, entertaining suspense thriller.

May 20, 2003
New York Times
Top Critic

Audience Reviews for Falling Down


Not bad. Loathed and pitied William all at the same time. Some of it was funny in a really black way (or maybe it's just me).

Nicki Marie
Nicki Marie

Super Reviewer

This is another great example of how, when given a more modest budget, and decently written indie-minded material that Joel Schumacher is capable of delivering a really good and thought provoking film. Now, if only he could do this more often... Micahel Douglsas delivers one of his absolute best performances as William "D-Fens" Foster, the archetypical 'angry white man". Life just isn't going his way: he's an anger prone divorcee and recently unemployed defense contractor trying to eek out an existence in L.A. While stuck in a major traffic jam one sweltering morning, his frustrations finally come to a boil, and he decides to lash out at all of the problems he sees plaguing society. After abandoning his car in the pile up, he casually tells someone he's going home, then sets out through the urban jungle to get home to celebrate his daughter's birthday, while along the way taking care of those aforementioned issues he has with the world. This would make for great viewing along with films like Taxi Driver or Do the Right Thing, as they all deal with similar issues and themes, often in very similar ways. The script is pretty well written and does a good job of clearly showing the legitimate social ills that plague many cities, and the effect that can have on people. Also, even though middle aged white men are historically the most entitled and oft represented demographic, their plight cannot or shouldn't go unnoticed where scholarly study is concerned. And yeah, Douglas does a wonderful job at bringing these struggles to life. He's extremely compelling to watch, and his character is alternately sympathetic and frighteningly psychotic. Like the movie overall, you'll be somewhat tickled one moment (lots of dark humor), and horrified the next. The other major plot going on here besides Bill's odyssey is that of the efforts of Prendergast, a cop on his final day of work before retiring who is tasked with stopping Bill's rampage. He's played wonderfully by Robert Duvall whose skill and world weariness lend a lot of credibility and pathos to the role. Like Douglas's character, his is similarly frustrated and alienated, but he chooses to deal with things in a different but still interesting manner. Other notable performers here include Barbara Hershey as Bill's ex-wife, Rachel Ticotin as Prendergast's colleague, and Lois Smith as Bill's mother. They all put in some decent work, but none of them can match either Duvall or Douglas. Schumacher provides some sharp direction, and mise-en-scene is used quite effectively to convey all the themes and feelings of the characters. The script is good, and addresses a lot of important issues, but even though it's not totally necessary, it might have been nice had the film tried to provide some answers to the questions and issues it raises. While a lot of the film is really good and quite interesting, it is uneven. The stuff with Duvall is rather cliche and isn't as impactful or gripping as it should be. The film is also rather one-sided a lot of the time when it comes to the problems Bill has with the world...and mildly racist, too. However, the film hits far more than it misses, and besides being entertaining it tries to be a lot more, so even if it is flawed, it is s still very fascinating and absorbing, so please give it a chance.

Chris Weber
Chris Weber

Super Reviewer

You will never find a film which can define our reality like 'Falling Down'. It shows our society, along with most of its problems, of how we are slowly falling apart. With a strong story and brilliant performance by Michael Douglas, this film will make you see more clearly with the world around you.

Samuel Riley
Samuel Riley

Super Reviewer

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