Falling Down Joel Schumacher

the hallmarks of so many '90s films. It was far more reminiscent of the cynical, character-driven films of the '70s. But with that decade's films and their tone back en vogue, it feels surprisingly relevant amongst today's crop of socially- and politically-minded dramas and thrillers. Michael Douglas plays William Foster, a former engineer with the National Defense Department who's lost everything: his job, his wife and his patience with the changing world around him. Stuck in traffic one morning on the L.A. Freeway, Foster snaps, abandons his car and starts the long march to Venice Beach to see his daughter on her birthday. He takes out his frustrations on individuals he encounters throughout the day, people he sees as representative of the breakdown of the America he once believed in. His seemingly senseless acts of violence come to the attention of Detective Martin Prendergast, played by Robert Duvall, a foil to Foster. Like Foster, things in life haven't worked out for Prendergast but he's been able to roll with the punches, where Foster has let them get under his skin. Falling Down has been accused of promoting racist violence, citing Foster's attacks on the Korean grocery store owner and the Latino gang bangers. But as the confrontation with the white supremacist in the army surplus store reveals, Foster is as offended by the neo-Nazi's racism as he is by the extortionist prices of the Korean grocery store. Douglas delivers a fantastically nuanced performance for a character that could have been played like a working class Terminator in the hands of a lesser actor. He gives Foster a sense of sadness that viewers can sympathize with even while finding his actions reprehensible. This 15th anniversary edition is a bit short on special features — the trailer, commentary with Douglas and director Joel Schumacher, and a new interview with Douglas are it. Still, it's a great opportunity to revisit a somewhat forgotten film that has aged surprisingly well. (Warner)