It's just not William Foster's (Michael Douglas) day. Laid off from his defense job, Foster gets stuck in the middle of the mother of all traffic jams. Desirous of attending his daughter's birthday party at the home of his ex-wife (Barbara Hershey), Foster abandons his car and begins walking, encountering one urban humiliation after another (the Korean shopkeeper who obstinately refuses to give change is the worst of the batch). He also slowly unravels mentally, finally snapping at a fast-food restaurant that refuses to serve him breakfast because it's "too late." Running amok with an arsenal of weapons at the ready, Foster – also known as "D-FENS" because of his vanity license plate – rapidly becomes a source of terror to some, a folk hero to others. It's up to reluctant cop Prendergast (Robert Duvall), on the eve of his retirement, to bring D-FENS down.
Gang of Four's existence had as much to do with Slave and Chic as it did the Sex Pistols and the Stooges, which is something Solid Gold demonstrates more than Entertainment! Any smartypants can point out the irony of a band on Warner Bros. railing against systematic tools of control disguised as entertainment media, but Gang of Four were more observational than condescending. True, Jon King and Andy Gill might have been hooting and hollering in a semiviolent and discordant fashion, but they were saying "think about it" more than "you lot are a bunch of mindless puppets." Abrasiveness was a means to grab the listener, and it worked. Reciting Solid Gold's lyrics on a local neighborhood corner might get a couple interested souls to pay attention. It isn't poetry, and it's no fun; most within earshot would just continue power-walking or tune out while buffing the SUV. Solid Gold has that unholy racket going on beneath the lyrics, an unlikely mutation of catchiness and atonality that made ears perk and (oddly) posteriors shake. With its slightly ironic title, Solid Gold is more rhythmically grounded than the fractured nature of Entertainment!, a politically charged, more Teutonic take on funk. It's a form of release for paranoid accountants.
Falling somewhere between the pop sensibilities of Ten Summoners Tales and the searching ambition of The Soul Cages, Mercury Falling is one of Stings tighter records, even if it fails to compel as much as his previous solo albums. Though he doesn't flaunt his jazz aspirations as he did in the mid-80s, Mercury Falling feels more serious than The Dream of the Blue Turtles, primarily because of its reserved, high-class production and execution. Building from surprisingly simple, memorable melodies, Sting creates multi-layered, vaguely soul-influenced arrangements that carry all of the hallmarks of someone who has studied music, not lived it.