Fallen 1998 Movie Scene Denzel Washington as John Hobbes holding a gun and hiding from the demon Azazel who's been following him

Fallen [1998]

I don’t know why I thought this movie would be a brooding and depressing affair. Probably because I saw it when I was young and it left quite an impression on me. I watched it last night and it totally blew me away. In fact, it just might be Denzel Washington’s most underrated movie, right after Ricochet. Fallen is a captivating occult thriller following a detective locked in a battle with a vicious serial killer. A serial killer who’s supposed to be dead. And that’s all I’m going to tell you about the plot. The entire movie has this “based on a novel” vibe complete with narration but it’s actually based on Nicholas Kazan’s intelligent script. 

The atmosphere in Fallen remains casual and even cheeky and humorous at times despite the fact that we’re dealing with quite serious matters. I mean, not fifteen minutes go by before we get another body, increasing the pressure on Detective John Hobbes to solve the case. The pacing is excellent, a bit slower but without any boring or prolonged sequences. Fallen is definitely a noir movie through and through. It just doesn’t follow the rules of the genre to a tee. Apart from Denzel, we also have John Goodman, Donald Sutherland, and James Gandolfini giving just as great performances.

Elias Koteas stole the show as the depraved killer Edgar Reese despite his brief appearance. He’s a woefully underrated actor with a bunch of great movies. The Thin Red Line and Crash are just some of the examples. Although I still remember him as Colton Ricks from Cyborg 2: Glass Shadow also starring young Angelina Jolie. To make things more interesting, he plays a detective in The Prophecy, another occult serial killer movie. Moving on, the first thing that’s going to hit you when you play Fallen is the cinematography. The movie looks like it came out a couple of years ago and not in the nineties.

They actually used a special process called Technicolor’s ENR originally developed for Vittorio Storaro in Technicolor Rome. Add to this excellent production values and you got yourself a visual masterpiece. As I already mentioned, Fallen opts for a rather carefree approach which might result in the lack of engagement from the viewer. However, it also makes the movie fairly easy to watch despite the somewhat convoluted story. A story that pulls no punches, killing people left and right and offering one hell of a finale. It also remains as realistic as it can possibly be with a premise like that.

End of Days took that concept to a whole ‘nother level. Actually, Arnold Schwarzenegger almost got the role of John Hobbes. Stigmata is somewhere in the middle while Polanski’s The Ninth Gate adds a refreshing twist to the concept. So, if you’re interested in movies like Fallen, you might want to check out this trio. The amount of graphic violence is minimal, increasing its impact when it finally appears. There’s no melodrama or anything like that, we just move on from one event to another, taking things in our stride.

Moreover, our detective does not have a love interest! I know, I know, it’s quite shocking to learn that there won’t be nudity here. It’s also funny how they effectively use the Rolling Stones’ song Time Is on my Side. Usually, when movies try to be clever like this, the whole thing comes off as cringy and annoying. That’s definitely not the case here. And the final song was just mwah. So, be sure to check out this movie.

Director: Gregory Hoblit

Writer: Nicholas Kazan

Cast: Denzel Washington, John Goodman, Donald Sutherland, James Gandolfini, Embeth Davidtz

Fun Facts: The police station is the same one used in the popular nineties television show NYPD Blue.


IMDb Link: https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0119099/

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