To start with, "Falling Down" is a powerful and dramatic condemnation of American society, communal corruption, and the deteriorating values of the West. The film is not for everyone and will most certainly cause offence to some people, but if approached with a clear open mind, will provide ample food for thought to all those that reside in the western world.
The story gets us underway as a weary and frustrated man William Foster (Michael Douglas) is driving to see his daughter on her birthday, having recently been laid off from his job, the slow decay of his life spirals downwards as it affects not only him, but all those people around him.
Everyday occurrences which most of us witness, such as traffic jams and grid locked streets, breathing in smoke and exhaust fumes, polluted streets, unwarranted conflict from construction workers and bad tempered motorists, along with stifling temperatures and a general feeling of being at war with the city, add to the frustrations of having an alienated wife and only child with limited visiting rights. An extremely disparaging and unbalanced state of mind, and the aggravation of being redundant with no marketable skills, set against the corrupt backdrop of modern day L.A where if you are "Not economically viable" you are of no use to society, then the outcome is "Falling Down".
Abandoning his car in a deluge of jammed streets, he attempts to walk home, and tries to right the wrongs that have been done to him and in his trudge across a hot stifling and dusty Los Angeles he becomes an anti-hero. This story shows us what happens to one individual when he finally snaps. Along the way, Foster comes face to face with various character types: the out of luck bum who is really just a lowlife looking to squeeze some quick cash by harassing park strollers, an insensitive Korean grocery store owner, a homophobic pro-nazi army surplus retail store owner, a cantankerous country club golf player, weird friendly fast food workers, heavily tattooed Hispanic thugs, and so the list goes on. Confrontation with each one will chip away at what remains of his patience and tolerance, fuelling a storming rampage.
Tracking Foster's path of turmoil through the city is Prendergast (Robert Duvall), a veteran cop who has felt many of the same torments as Foster, but who serves as a sort of foil to him. Foster has lost everything, and while Prendergast also has a life of misgivings, married to a wife who is close to being schizophrenic, his only daughter having died years ago under inexplicable circumstances, he still retains some optimism, composure, and dignity in dealing with his job. As Prendergast, who is on his last day as a police officer, begins to put together the pieces of the mystifying crime spree plaguing the city, he seems to be the only one intelligent enough to recognize it's all the action of one man. Some will see this as the chronicle of a dignified, honest man who modern society has crushed, and who desperately tries to struggle against the tyranny and betrayal. Some will see Foster as an absurd lunatic who needs to be stopped. Very few people I think will find that Foster doesn't warrant some sympathy in his plight.
An intense film with plenty of violence, humour and excellent observation of modern society.