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 The World of Film in Australia - on the Internet Updated Tuesday September 15, 2020 

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Homicide detective John Hobbes (Denzel Washington) has nabbed murderer Edgar Reese (Elias Koteas), who is executed for his crime. Hobbes and his partner, Jonesy (John Goodman), soon find that someone is killing again - in Reese's trademark style. Their boss, Lt. Stanton (Donald Sutherland), even suspects an inside job, but Hobbes and Jonesy find clues that lead them to think otherwise. One of them leads Hobbes to Gretta Milano (Embeth Davidtz), a theology professor whose father, also a police officer, committed suicide after being implicated in crimes he didn't commit. Gretta tells him to forget the case, particularly if he has anyone close to him, which in this case includes his brother Art (Gabriel Casseus) and his son, Sam (Michael J. Pagan). As the murders continue, Hobbes discovers the true culprit Ė a mysterious, possibly supernatural entity or being who is not a suspect easily arrested. Hobbes also realises the real target is himself. As he learns more about the killer, he tries to figure out how to stop the slaughter before his own career and life are ended. It isnít easy.

"I suppose we expect our favourite actors to be our cinematic filters, relying on them to only accept roles in films we will love. So it is always disappointing to see actors like Denzel Washington, John Goodman and Donald Sutherland in something not worthy of their talents. If this sounds patronising and offhand, I donít mean it to: what I mean is that a film like Fallen is elevated by their presence, beyond its natural level of interest Ė which is the low rent video market. (I donít mean to be flippant.) The reason for this is primarily a lack of subtlety. The subject of supernatural forces, the very essence of humanityís fight in the garden of good and evil (to coin a timely phrase) is so intangible and so ethereal that anything less than a suggestion is heavy handed. Think of films like Donít Look Now; it was in the sheer suggestion of something evil that our fear was planted and nurtured. There has to be a very solidly established reality for films of this kind to really make an impression Ė and entertain in their own dark way. Fallen fails that test, because everything is smacked in your face. Back to the actors: they are terrific. They lend their gravitas willingly and powerfully, creating characters that are wasted in this featherweight bout. The direction is proficient, if lacking in invention, and the production values are strong Ė if a tad dark and predictable. There is more innovation in the use of music, and even the premise would hold together in nimbler, more minimalist hands."
Andrew L. Urban

"A supernatural thriller with some interesting ideas, Fallenís star cast is the biggest draw card to what otherwise becomes a bit of a fizz. The best thing in the film is the stunning Denzel Washington, who has great screen presence, combining charm, nonchalance and vulnerability in his role as Detective John Hobbs. Ably supported by John Goodman and Donald Sutherland, the leads do their utmost to sustain the suspense and credibility with a script that doesnít fire on all guns. The film meanders a little too much, taking away much of the suspense and tension, although to be fair, there are some well anticipated moments of genuine fear. The stylistic, sharp edits and interesting music score bring textures of intrigue, giving an edgy feel to the direction. The elements of mysticism and the supernatural build up well, although the first half of the film is slow, and could afford to be tightened. The sense of evil portrayed is eerie, while the narration offers a personal point of view and instinctive sense of observation. The best scenes are those between Washington and Goodman: the air is electric, and you know you are looking at two of the best. While Fallen seems to try to put a new spin on evil and the supernatural, there isnít very much offered here that is new, and the main spark is through the top performances."
Louise Keller

"Since the movies captured our imagination, there have been cops, there've been bad guys, there've been the inexplicable, but rarely have these elements been fused together quite so satisfyingly and with such droll self-mocking as in the occasionally creepy Fallen. The film sets us up from the outset, as Denzel Washington's stoic narration tells us quietly that he wants to let us the know about the day he almost died. OK, so you think you have it all worked out, but no, my friends, this is no simple detective story, and things aren't what they seem. There's always a great difficulty in combining the conventional thriller with the supernatural, and the results here are more than intriguing. Rather than allow our hero, an honest cop trying to do his job with logical precision, to accept the demonic scenario thrust upon him, it takes some convincing. Washington is the perfect actor to play this guy, adding depth and realism to the role, and thus allowing the audience to go with the outlandish situation. Impressively mounted and sharply edited, Fallen has some genuine chills, but it's also an original and unpredictable thriller, with its ending, in particular, proof that the old twist and turn can, at times, be brought about with effectiveness. It's a pay-off well worth the price of admission."
Paul Fischer

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FALLEN (M) 15+

CAST: Denzel Washington, John Goodman, Donald Sutherland, Embeth Davidtz, James Gandolfini, Elias Koteas, Gabriel Casseus Michael J. Pagan, Robert Joy

PRODUCERS: Charles Roven, Dawn Steel

DIRECTOR: Gregory Hoblit

SCRIPT: Nicholas Kazan

CINEMATOGRAPHER: Newton Thomas Sigel

EDITOR: Lawrence Jordan

MUSIC: Tan Dun


RUNNING TIME: 124 minutes



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