Douglas plays William Foster, an unemployed engineer whose day begins tied up in a traffic jam as he is traveling to see his daughter on her birthday. His ex-wife, portrayed by Barbara Hershey, plays a more pivotal role than most realize and film buffs have overlooked. What was once a happy and joyous marriage that produced a wonderful little girl, things went south - and in this movie, she is less than thrilled to have the father of her child visit, even on her birthday.
The movie follows Foster from the traffic jam on a Los Angeles freeway, to a convenience store where everything is over-priced, to an altercation with gang members, to a run-in with a bigot at a surplus store. There's a run-in with wealthy golf course patrons, and more. As the movie progresses, we see more closely the inner struggle and turmoil of a man who has lost everything, is forced to live with his mother and whose ex-wife is painfully reluctant to interact with the father of her daughter in any shape or form.
Foster is a deeply troubled character whose heart is in the right place, but circumstances create the perfect storm for meltdown. And meltdown, he does.
At the end of the movie, if you have no soul, you'll fee no sympathy for Douglas' character. You'll simply see him as a law-breaker, someone who is mentally unstable. For the rest of us, it's an "a-ha" moment where we see another human being reaching a breaking point. The "system" fails and on his mission to do the right thing, some bad guys face their demise.
It's a classic movie, and I highly recommend you see it. Available on Netflix.