[Movie Review] Fallen

FallenStarring: Denzel Washington, Donald Sutherland, John Goodman
Director: Gregory Hoblit
Genre: Thriller
Cert: 18
Released: 1998

There’s nothing like a good supernatural chiller. In fact the last good movie of this ilk that I’d seen was “The First Power” with Lou Diamond Phillips way back in 1990. After watching “Fallen”, it’s still the last good movie of this ilk that I’ve seen. More on that later.

Detective John Hobbes (Washington) is the man responsible for the capture of murderer, Edgar Reese (Elias Koteas). On the eve of his execution, Hobbes goes to see the imprisoned Reese who begins to speak in riddle and mumble a strange language that is indecipherable. He also mysteriously sings a 60s rock ballad. His strange behaviour is taken with a grain of salt by Hobbes who watches Reese die in the gas chamber.

But when a new series of murders begins it seems obvious to Hobbes and his partner, Jonesy (Goodman), that they are dealing with a copycat murderer or an accomplice of Reese. However, when strangers and colleagues begin to deride Hobbes and sing the same tune that Reese sang before his execution, the cop is understandably spooked. Using a clue left behind at a murder scene, Hobbes tracks down Gretta Milano (Embeth Davidtz – “Matilda”, “Schindlers List”) who explains to him all about the evil angel, Azazel, a cursed spirit who roams the earth and can switch bodies by contact. Azazel’s mission is to gain revenge on Hobbes.

So where does “Fallen” go wrong? The premise is intriguing – a foe that can’t be seen and, it seems, cannot be stopped. We’ve got the main character in a seemingly helpless situation. He is being framed for the murders he investigates and how does he explain to his bosses that the murders are effectively being done by a man they have already seen executed?

The answer is probably that the movie runs out of steam very quickly, and the last 40 minutes become very repetitive and one-dimensional. The fun part is seeing Azazel slowly return to torture Hobbes but once that’s done, the story is stretched as far as it will go. Ok, so Hobbes has to find a solution, but interest wanes very quickly as the psychology that you need between the good and bad guy is diluted by the lack of an actual visible foe.

We’ve got some heavyweight actors involved – Washington, Sutherland, and the actual heavyweight John Goodman. All three men seem to go through the motions but there’s not much call for them to do much else in what is an uninspiring and flat script. The attractive Embeth Davidtz puts in a good performance as Hobbes unwilling sidekick, and Gabriel Casseus is the likeable brother of Washington.

“Fallen” wants to be a dark and mysterious religious thriller, but rest assured, this is no “Seven”. Infact, as you can see above, it’s really just a ‘Two’.


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