Published January 1, 1998
Fallen, written by Nicholas Kazan and directed by Gregory Hoblit from the novel by Dawn Steele is an idiotic fantasy about a Biblical demon called Azazel who inhabits the body of a murderer named Edgar Reese (Elias Koteas). When Reese is executed for his crimes, the spirit of Azazel transmigrates into the bodies of various Philadelphians, without their knowing it, by mere touch, and thus contrives to effect a weird kind of revenge against the Philly detective, John Hobbes (Denzel Washington) who sent Reese to the gas chamber. (By the way, since when has Pennsylvania had a gas chamber?) Can Hobbes defeat the supernatural forces of evil arrayed against him with the help of a pretty—and pretty timid—teacher of theology (Embeth Davidtz)? Where will Azazel pop up next, and whom will he kill? Or, more ominously, whom will he make Hobbes kill? Is Hobbes, once again the only honest cop in sight, to trust his apparently by-the-book police superior (Donald Sutherland) or his folksy, down-to-earth, likeably corrupt partner (John Goodman)?
The answer to all these questions is who could possibly care? “Some things you should never, never know,” says the pretty theologian, “and if you know, you should never tell.” It’s the only true line in the picture. Otherwise it is all lies and bogus spirituality—all mere fantasy. The real question that the film gives rise to is whose life is so empty that he has the time to waste on such crapola?