Life in LA becomes too much for redundant ex-defence worker Michael Douglas.

Stuck in a traffic jam, he impulsively abandons his car and heads off on foot. It’s a not-to-be-missed opening sequence and this drama remains compelling as Douglas begins by asking for change in a shop and ends up wielding a bazooka, leaving an ever-escalating trail of destruction behind him.

Robert Duvall is the cop out to catch him in a subtle, darkly humorous tale that touches a raw nerve of urban paranoia and his thoughtful character ensures that it’s also a story with a believable moral centre.

Douglas’ po-faced performance comes into its own whenever he walks up to a counter (‘I’m standing up for my rights as a consumer!’) and the film takes a genuinely disturbing turn when he goes into an army surplus store and meets a man who’s even crazier than he is.

A potent modern parable of powerlessness and despair, the film’s most telling sequence is Douglas’ encounter with a child who shows him how to use his rocket launcher and then asks: ‘What’s the name of the movie you’re making?’