Mental breakdowns are as common today as in the mid-90’s Los Angeles when, on a hot summer morning, William “D-Fens” Foster (Michael Douglas) reaches that point. Stuck in traffic, he abandons his car continuing on foot towards Venice Beach, where his little daughter and ex-wife live. Unemployed, angry, frustrated, with a restraining order prohibiting to visit them, he is ready to throw in the proverbial towel.
On the other hand, at the police department, Detective Prendergast (Robert Duvall) is getting ready for retirement on his final day as a cop when he hears about a man carrying a briefcase, shooting at people and things in different areas of the city. Although Prendergast is expected at home earlier than usual by his mentally unstable wife, he begins tracking the gunman.
Despite its intrinsic drama and tragic ending, the story has many scenes of dark humor impossible to ignore. In one of them, William faces a street under construction (one of those that appear unexpectedly on your way and seem never -ending) and bazooka-in-hand, he yells at the workers while shooting into an open sewer. In another instance, he politely asks a fast-food employee to serve him breakfast. He is told no since it’s already 5 minutes after 11:30, the cut-off time. Obviously, William is the wrong person to apply a rigid rule at this time when he has just “traded” his briefcase for a bag of weapons.
The 1993 film, directed by Joel Schumaker, makes us think about and empathize with people suffering from this type of ailment although not with their actions. This is a good movie to ask ourselves why do we get annoyed, angry, frustrated with certain people we might consider the “enemy” and with situations we label undesirable. Finally, the movie raises a question to which we still haven’t found a satisfactory answer in our society: How do we deal practically we mental health issues and the availability of guns?
See also with Michael Douglas: Solitary Man (2009), Wall Street (1987), The Star Chamber (1983)
See also with Robert Duvall: Wrestling Ernest Hemingway (1993), The Great Santini (1979), A Family Thing (1996)