Denzel Washington Crime Thriller Bomb Needs Your Attention, Stream Right Now

By Nikola Pajtic | Published

I am a lifelong Denzel Washington fan, and as such I have enjoyed almost his every film, basking in his chameleon-like acting skills, from the lawyer in Philadelphia to the corrupt officer n Training Day, and the infamous drug lord Frank Lucas in American Gangster and while scrolling through his filmography I found a hidden gem, a 1998 supernatural crime thriller, Fallen, that undeservedly, bombed at the box office. 

A Supernatural Denzel Thriller

Directed by Gregory Hoblit, who excels at crime-procedural stories (Hill Street Blues, L.A. Law), from a screenplay by Nicholas Kazan (Bicentennial Man), Fallen will take you in for its grit and suspense like any Denzel Washington thriller.  However, the detective story comes with a biblical twist. 

Instead of chasing after human criminals, Detective John Hobbes (Denzel Washington) faces a foe far more ancient and terrifying in Fallen. His main enemy is a demon that can jump from one body to another, making people commit violent crimes. 

Something Isn’t Right

Fallen starts with a hook right away. We are introduced to Detective John Hobbes, who is visiting death row inmate Edgar Reese (Elias Koates). Reese is a serial killer with an abundance of ego who sings “Time Is on My Side” by the Rolling Stones right before the execution. This becomes a recurring motif throughout the film, foreshadowing a dark connection with Reese and other characters possessed by the ancient entity. 

A Mystery That Leads Into The Darkness

A string of murders, almost identical to Reese’s style, starts happening. This throws Hobbes and his partner, Detective Jones (John Goodman), into an investigation leading down a dark path until they connect with a woman named Gretta Milano, portrayed by Embeth Davidtz. 

At first, the connection between her and the case is shrouded in mystery, but like every suspense, it hints at what secrets she holds. Gretta soon becomes a target herself by the demon, who cleverly jumps from one stranger to another on the street and attempts to possess her.

Slow Burn Thriller Horror

The Demon and Denzel Washington start a game of cat and mouse in Fallen. However, you might feel like something in the film is missing that would elevate this gritty thriller and make it stand out. How often have we seen evil spirits force people to do terrible things in films? Nevertheless, the film thrives on its unpredictability and fantastic Denzel Washington in a slow-burner supernatural thriller horror.

Fallen borrows several elements from other releases. You can see Wes Craven’s Shocker in the fallen angel that takes the bodies of other people, and the overall crime-thriller feel of Se7en.

A Gifted Cast

However, the combination of supernatural and crime stories sets it apart. Denzel in Fallen, though not his best role, still delivers another masterpiece performance that deserves your attention immediately. Once again, John Goodman is his usual “aw shucks” charming mid-western self, while James Gandolfini, as one of the villains, is especially sinister. Donald Sutherland rounds out the cast with another strong performance. 

A Box Office Flop That Crashed Against Titanic

Denzel Washington as its lead star and Fallen opened in 2,448 theaters on January 16, 1998, achieving the third spot at the box office with a $10.4 million opening weekend. However, its success was short-lived, dropping to $4.9 million in its second week. The film ultimately grossed $23 million domestically and $981,200 internationally, totaling $25 million against a $45 million budget, becoming a box office bomb. Unfortunately, the film’s release coincided with the tail end of Titanic’s historic box office run, which likely impacted its overall performance.

Multiple Ways To Stream Today


On Rotten Tomatoes, Fallen holds an abysmal 40 percent approval rating in comparison to some other Denzel Washington films, and the overall consensus from critics looks like an appraisal of its main star, but the familiar concept lacks further thrill. 

Yes, I agree, Fallen is not Denzel Washington’s most celebrated film, but I am sure the main reason behind it becoming a box office bomb is that the genre mashup was ahead of its time. Nevertheless, Fallen has since garnered a cult following and is definitely worth a watch. 

You can stream Fallen for free on Tubi, or via Video on Demand through Amazon Prime Video, YouTube, Google Play, and AppleTV. Then, when you’re done, check out GenreVision and see if you agree with the hosts!