Joel Schumacher directs this tense thriller about a guy who walks out of his car in the middle of a traffic jam before venting his anger at society towards whoever gets in his way or aggravates him slightly.
Falling Down sees Michael Douglas deliver a complex, creepy performance in a role which should have earned him at least an Oscar nomination. He plays William Foster, the stressed-out geeky-looking everyman who embarks on an eventful journey across town to see his daughter for her birthday. Unfortunately, his ex-wife isn't exactly thrilled to learn he's on his way to see them, which only adds to his frustrations. Along the way, William encounters some petty criminals, a neo-Nazi crackpot, some rude construction workers and he causes mayhem in a convenience store and a fast food restaurant. What makes him something of an anti-hero for most of the film is the fact that it's always someone else starting a conflict with him for no reason and he's always kind of right with his complaints about the world.
Schumacher skilfully doesn't paint William as an obvious villain and you're never sure if he's capable of being a genuine threat or not, especially to his own family. Having said that, you can tell he's gone through a mental breakdown and definitely needs therapy. Another clever thing the film does is escalate the character's weapons as his anger escalates, starting from a newspaper he uses to kill a fly going all the way up to a bazooka. Robert Duvall is perfectly cast as the retiring cop who keeps getting reluctantly dragged back into this case, despite the fact he's literally hours from leaving the force altogether. He adds some welcome levity to the film and acts as an interesting contrasting force to Douglas' character.
Falling Down is an underrated film, one that definitely deserves more recognition: it boasts excellent writing and directing, many memorable scenes, it's an effective character study and Michael Douglas gives a career-best performance.