Falling Down vs. Se7en

Welcome to Postmodern Suburbia, population one.

His character was known simply as “D-Fens,” the name on his personalized automobile license plates. We see only so little of this peculiar man, but along the way, we come to realize with him a lot about ourselves.

The man is Michael Douglas. The story is Falling Down, directed by Joel Shumacher. There are some rather striking similarities with the film Se7en. Although very different movies, there are very like moods and topics. Let’s begin:

Convergence of Talent

Shumacher is set to direct the upcoming 8MM, a macabre tale the likes of Se7en. One Andrew Kevin Walker, a long time cohort of David Fincher, wrote both stories. Walker was also on board with Fincher during The Game, as well as Fincher’s much anticipated Rendezvous with Rama. Game itself (incidentally also starring Douglas) is on the same caliber of social commentary as its predecessors Falling and Se7en.

Convergence of Plot


Falling Down (February 26, 1993)

Release Date: February 26, 1993
Starring: Michael Douglas, Robert Duvall, Barbara Hershey, Rachel Ticotin
Genres: Crime, Drama, Thriller
Runtime: 113 min
Original Title: Falling Down
Original Film Language: English
Production Companies: Regency Enterprises, Alcor Films, Warner Bros. Pictures, Canal+
On the day of his daughter's birthday, William "D-Fens" Foster is trying to get to the home of his estranged ex-wife to see his daughter. His car breaks down, so he leaves his car in a traffic jam in Los Angeles and decides to walk. He goes to a convenience store and tries to get some change for a phone call, but the Korean owner does not oblige, tipping Foster over the edge. The unstable Foster, so frustrated with the various flaws he sees in society, begins to psychotically and violently lash out against them.

Cast Falling Down

  • Michael Douglas
  • Role: William 'D-Fens' Foster
  • Robert Duvall
  • Role: Detective Prendergast
  • Barbara Hershey
  • Role: Elizabeth 'Beth' Travino
  • Rachel Ticotin
  • Role: Sandra
  • Frederic Forrest
  • Role: Nick, the Nazi Surplus Store Owner
  • Tuesday Weld
  • Role: Amanda Prendergast
  • Raymond J. Barry
  • Role: Captain Yardley
  • John Diehl
  • Role: Dad at Back Yard
  • D.W. Moffett
  • Role: Detective Lydecker
  • Richard Montoya
  • Role: Detective Sanchez
  • Steve Park
  • Role: Detective Brian
  • Kimberly Scott
  • Role: Detective Jones
  • Lois Smith
  • Role: Mrs. Foster / William's Mother
  • Joey Hope Singer
  • Role: Adele Foster-Travino
  • Ebbe Roe Smith
  • Role: Guy on Freeway
  • Michael Paul Chan
  • Role: Mr. Lee
  • Karina Arroyave
  • Role: Angie
  • Dedee Pfeiffer
  • Role: Sheila at Whammyburger
  • Vondie Curtis-Hall
  • Role: Not Economically Viable Man
  • Mark Frank
  • Role: 

Trailer Falling Down

Here’s were the two stories intertwine. The premise of Falling is an oft-visited one: man against nature. D-Fens is a humble guy who has worked his whole life as an engineer, building missiles for a living. He’s always played by the rules, wary of disturbing the corporate water. He’s a cog in the Great Wheel of capitalism, and it’s begun to wear on him. It’s destroyed his marriage; we see him relieving the stress of his job on his family.

Despite his failed relationships, he is still a member of society — until now. We learn that he has been downsized from his company (“no longer economically viable”). That’s where the film begins.

Welcome to Postmodern Suburbia.

The cheap fast food restaurant, the neo-Nazi, the rich plastic surgeon, and the multi-acred country club golf course are all personified contributions to D-Fens’ silent insanity. D-Fens sees the erosion of his world as a direct attack from the social system of which he so struggled to be a part. Yet, as Falling progresses, we see that there’s much more underlying the hypocrisy and disillusioned, jaded characters. We begin to realize that this is actually man vs. himself.


Se7en (September 22, 1995)

Release Date: September 22, 1995
Starring: Brad Pitt, Morgan Freeman, Gwyneth Paltrow, John C. McGinley
Genres: Crime, Mystery, Thriller
Runtime: 127 min
Original Title: Se7en
Original Film Language: English
Production Companies: Juno Pix, New Line Cinema, Cecchi Gori Pictures
Two homicide detectives are on a desperate hunt for a serial killer whose crimes are based on the "seven deadly sins" in this dark and haunting film that takes viewers from the tortured remains of one victim to the next. The seasoned Det. Sommerset researches each sin in an effort to get inside the killer's mind, while his novice partner, Mills, scoffs at his efforts to unravel the case.

Cast Se7en

  • Brad Pitt
  • Role: Detective David Mills
  • Morgan Freeman
  • Role: Detective Lt. William Somerset
  • Gwyneth Paltrow
  • Role: Tracy Mills
  • John C. McGinley
  • Role: California
  • R. Lee Ermey
  • Role: Police Captain
  • Richard Roundtree
  • Role: Dist. Atty. Martin Talbot
  • Richard Schiff
  • Role: Mark Swarr
  • Julie Araskog
  • Role: Mrs. Gould
  • Mark Boone Junior
  • Role: Greasy F.B.I. Man
  • John Cassini
  • Role: Officer Davis
  • Reg E. Cathey
  • Role: Dr. Santiago
  • Peter Crombie
  • Role: Dr. O'Neill
  • Hawthorne James
  • Role: George, Library Night Guard
  • Michael Massee
  • Role: Man in Booth at Massage Parlor
  • Leland Orser
  • Role: Crazed Man in Massage Parlor
  • Richard Portnow
  • Role: Dr. Beardsley
  • Daniel Zacapa
  • Role: Detective Taylor
  • Alfonso Freeman
  • Role: Fingerprint Technician
  • Harris Savides
  • Role: 911 Operator
  • Andrew Kevin Walker
  • Role: Dead Man
  • Richmond Arquette
  • Role: Delivery Man
  • Pamala Tyson
  • Role: Thin Vagrant
  • Emily Wagner
  • Role: Detective Sara
  • Shannon Wilcox
  • Role: Woman Cop Behind Desk
  • George Christy
  • Role: Workman at Door of Somerset's Office
  • Endre Hules
  • Role: Cab Driver
  • William Davidson
  • Role: First Guard at the Library
  • Bob Collins
  • Role: Second Guard at the Library
  • Dominique Jennings
  • Role: TV News Reporter
  • Allan Kolman
  • Role: First Forensic Man in the Law Office
  • Gene Borkan
  • Role: Eli Gould - Greed Victim
  • Mario Di Donato
  • Role: Fingerprint Forensic Man in Law Office
  • Harrison White
  • Role: Cop on SWAT Team
  • Bob Stephenson
  • Role: Cop on SWAT Team
  • Michael Reid MacKay
  • Role: Victor - Sloth Victim
  • Lennie Loftin
  • Role: Policeman Who Takes Statement from Vagrant
  • Martin Serene
  • Role: Wild Bill
  • David Correia
  • Role: First Cop at Massage Parlor
  • Lexie Bigham
  • Role: Sweating Cop at Massage Parlor
  • Evan Mirand
  • Role: Paramedic at Massage Parlor
  • Paul Eckstein
  • Role: Paramedic at Massage Parlor
  • Rachel Flanagan
  • Role: Additional 911 Operator
  • Heidi Schanz
  • Role: Pride Victim
  • Brian Evers
  • Role: Duty Sergeant
  • James Deeth
  • Role: Helicopter Pilot
  • Charles A. Tamburro
  • Role: SWAT Helicopter Pilot
  • Charles S. Dutton
  • Role: Cop (uncredited)
  • Arthur Max
  • Role: Man in Library (uncredited)
  • Kevin Spacey
  • Role: John Doe

Trailer Se7en

So too is the story of Se7en. John Doe, the man with no identity, is quietly waging war against the apathy of society. He sees a city of people that are rotting in their own filth, and are too weak to care. Unlike D-Fense, Doe cannot allow himself to become a part of this society. He makes great pains to rid himself of any identifying marks that society would impress upon him (including his own fingerprints). For, Doe believes he is on a mission to “turn each sin against the sinner.” We see again that the stories slowly shift to a man-against-himself scenario. Doe realizes that the penultimate sin is one which he himself commits (Envy). Likewise, D-Fens is a small part of the machine, that which he so loathes. These two characters — in struggling with nature — are warring themselves.

John Doe: “What sick ridiculous puppets we are, and what gross little stage we dance on; not a care in the world. Not knowing that we are nothing. We are not what was intended.
D-Fens: “I’m the bad guy? How did that happen?”

The society we comprise simultaneously imprisons us, if we allow it. It has a way of making us lifeless. We would do good to heed the warnings of John Doe and D-Fens: wake up.

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