- Aug 27, 2013
- MBTI Type
- Instinctual Variant
It's one of those clever movies but unfortunately has become a reference point for a certain demographic when they want to talk about how things used to be better. I don't take the film to be wavering on the presentation of Douglas's character, it's just presenting a human character who really doesn't slot neatly into hero, villain or antihero roles, because those roles rarely exist clear cut in the real world. I think it was trying to go for an angle similar to Breaking Bad, making us both sympathize with and fear the main character. It does become increasingly difficult to cheer for D-Fens as the story progresses. The main character doesn't even really seem to have a clear reason for his own anger and sense of obsolesence, it's just a cloud of anger hovering over multiple reasons which have led to a feeling of being beaten down. That's honestly not unlike a lot of real world "angry" people, in that if you asked them why, it might be hard to pinpoint any one reason or cause. It's usually a laundry list or vague mass of various reasons or perceived transgressions and betrayals driving such anger.Watched Falling Down (1993) finally. Not sure it aged that well, compared to all the crap going on here.
I'll have to say, it's one of the better directed/shot of Schumacher's films. I normally find his films have an edge of garishness; this one stays anchored in reality visually and is actually shot well. Michael Douglas also is fearless and doesn't care in the least whether you like him after this film. Main supporting cast is decent. I don't really fault the cinematography and filming, or the acting.
There's one issue I don't like about the script (well, an obvious one, and maybe some others); it's feels extremely front-loaded. Everyone D-Fens meets in the first half or more of the film tends to be an asshole. Later, when we see some of these people from other perspective, they seem nicer. It's not clear whether we are literally witnessing them or just seeing them through D-Fens' eyes because Schumacher doesn't suggest it's anything other than a literal portrayal. If these interactions were meant to be more subjective rather than objective, then Schumacher failed at that -- but it's hard to take them as anything but literal. And it's like everyone he runs into is really aggressive/obnoxious, so then he responds in kind and takes it up a notch. It feels like the writer is trying to justify at least his initial response. However, his response always goes much further than the equivalent.
The film is really shifty on the way it seems to waver on whether D-fens is a hero or villain. Some of these scenes paint him as a victim, but the initial conflict always seems a little over the top that triggers him (like, are people really this abrasive and obnoxious to strangers?) and then he always takes it further. As the end gets closer to what seems like an inevitable meetup with his estranged family (who has been trying to get police protection), he seems to be painted as more of the aggressor.
The film is trying to juxtapose this with another white guy, Robert Duvall's policeman who is attempting to retire on the same day but is swept into this ongoing incident. He slowly pieces it all together. The film tries to compare the two and their responses; both are becoming "obsolete," both seem rather passive and are abused/bullied or not taken seriously, both deal with wives / ex-wives who are calling the shots, both have "lost" a kid. In the end, the detective takes a more active approach in his own life and is portrayed overall as the "hero," kind of showing that responses to one's difficulties determine one's moral character, versus the more passive self-victimizing approach that lashes out while blaming others. Still, the analogy isn't perfect, and it's not clear how to deal with the sullen aggressive, "blame others for my unhappiness" person. Both need to utilize active engagement of life to get out of the hole they are in, but one does so by just reaffirming his own boundaries, the other destroys the boundaries and just redirects the threats he feels against other people.