Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Chris Dorner, Falling Down, and Life Imitating Art Imitating Archetypes


I thought about writing some quick thoughts concerning Obama's State of the Union speech earlier.

Instead, I just read the online manifesto of the ex-LAPD and naval officer on the run for killing three people and wounding two others.

This Guardian article makes a very good point about the seemingly fictional circumstances at play:
The weather turned and a storm closed in, wrapping a story which already felt elemental: Dorner was pursuing a vendetta against authority, believing himself a victim of injustice, and the biggest posse in living memory was after him. 
Revenge, blood, pursuit, ingredients of countless westerns and action films from Hollywood, on the other side of the mountains, and a story trending on Twitter buzzed with film references: Cape Fear, Rambo, The Deer Hunter, The Bourne Ultimatum, The Fugitive.  
In reality Dorner was probably suffering from mental illness and three families were mourning the death of innocents but already, in some minds, he was becoming legend. Facebook pages sprouted in support, hailing him a rebel, and media commentators hyped his martial skills as if the navy reserves really did breed Rambos.
Another movie came to mind that I'm surprised this article didn't mention: 1993's Joel Schumacher-directed "Falling Down".

The Michael Douglas-Robert Duvall vehicle isn't an exact match - "Falling Down" is considered to be a film representing the id of the proverbial angry white man, not a black, disgraced ex-cop seeking revenge.

However, there are still several interesting parallels between Dorner and Douglas' character from the 20-year-old film:

  • Both are divorced, frustrated, unemployed men formerly recruited in national security-related jobs.
  • Both are the subject of a manhunt by the Los Angeles Police Department. 
  • Both are vocally anti-racist and violently opposed to the expression thereof.
  • Both have a sweeping sense of self-justification for their actions.
  • If reports tonight are to be believed, both men finally get backed into corners by the police before the inevitable climax.
  • And as seen below, both share the ability to conjure up a detailed rant a moment's notice:



Recently, I also read about the rise and fall of the spec script market in Hollywood, and how the film industry currently wants to make safe bets by throwing money at recognizable subject matter.

Considering the depressingly quick turnaround between Osama Bin Laden's death and "Zero Dark Thirty" - and incidentally, Dorner's own background in national security clearances and references to using the same asymmetrical warfare tactics as al-Qaeda - we can reasonably expect Kathryn Bigelow's take on this whole saga by Summer 2014.

...unless Joel Schumacher isn't opposed to filming a script that looks awfully familiar.

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