FALLING DOWN (1993) begins innocuously enough when an unnamed white male in his 50's abandons his car in the blazing heat of downtown Los Angeles traffic with the simple and relatable enough desire to get home to his family. Meanwhile Martin Prendergast (Robert Duvall) is having a sh*tty last day on the job, stuck in that same congestion and heading towards a retirement he doesn't want from a police force that doesn't respect him, in order to become a carer for his unstable wife. As reports emerge of an unusual robbery at a supermarket and a gang-land dispute gone horribly wrong, Prendergast finds himself largely alone on the trail of "D-FENS" who leaves a trail of violence in his wake.
The double D's - Duvall and Douglas - are both excellent; Douglas in particular as William Foster, the simmering ball of rage and alienation at the centre of the movie, while there's many memorable and well-executed scenes which have had a lasting impact on popular culture but this has always been a movie with some dubious messages and a very dark point of view. As an audience we're invited to enjoy Douglas's rebellion, to somehow see him as defiant in the face of oppression and therefore by extension we should enjoy him terrorizing his targets which consist largely of low-income migrants, service or retail staff and blue-collar construction workers. Prendergast's wife's illness is treated fairly insensitively even for the 90's and there's a weirdly misogynistic scene where a police officer implies Foster's wife may have demonised her former partner. The confusing encouragement and insistence the film has on portraying Foster's gripes as legitimate are totally at odds with the parts about the racist white man with a machine gun, fascism and the unchecked entitlement of the Boomer generation which is really what this is all about. Unfortunately cited as an inspiration for disenfranchised and psychotic mentalists who believe that cathartically sticking it to the man involves going crazy with firearms, which let's face it is essentially anyone who supports The Second Amendment at this point.