Fallen Review

by Jon Popick (jpopick AT sick-boy DOT com)
October 10th, 1999

PLANET SICK-BOY: http://www.sick-boy.com

Let’s face it, any movie about a serial killer released in the next few years is going to draw unfair comparisons to “Se7en”. And why shouldn’t they? It’s only the Holy Grail of the genre. Like “Silence of the Lambs” was to the early 90’s, “Se7en” will be to the late 90’s and maybe beyond. Many movies strive to be as dark, unnerving and stylistic and most fail. With that said, “Fallen” is the closest thing I’ve seen so far.

If you’ve seen the trailer, you get the basic story: Detective John Hobbes (Washington) is responsible for catching an evil serial killer and is about to witness his execution. As the killer dies, his soul floats out of his body into an unsuspecting prison guard. The trick is that the soul can pass from person to person through any casual contact (not unlike herpes). The “host” of the soul sings or hums or whistles the Rolling Stones classic “Time Is On My Side”, so that Hobbes (and the slow viewer) can catch on that he’s not really dead.

Hobbes gets no help from crusty Lieutenant Stanton (Sutherland) and turns to Gretta Milano (Davidtz), the daughter of a suspiciously deceased old cop, who turns him on to the biblical meaning of it all. And wouldn’t you know it, the more he finds out about this travelling soul, the more he realizes that it will be impossible to stop it. Duh!
The movie has a great look to it, mostly in part to Newton Thomas Sigel (“The Usual Suspects”). It’s dark and somewhat stylistic, but not quite unnerving. When you see through the eyes of the killer, everything gets dark and discolored and warped (“Fincher-Vision”). And there’s a very impressive scene where the soul is chasing Milano down a busy sidewalk, flinging itself from host to host in an attempt to catch her.

Washington plays Hobbes pretty much the same as his “Ricochet” cop character. John Goodman gets all of the good one liners (including my revised tag line). Davidtz (Miss Honey in “Matilda”) does what she can with a pretty skimpy part. Most of the best acting actually comes from the people who briefly host the demon soul. Their creepy grins and singing are one of the really cool parts of this film.

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