(director: Neil LaBute; screenwriters: Howard Korder/from a story by David Loughery/David Loughery; cinematographer: Rogier Stoffers; editor: Joel Plotch; music:Mychael Danna, Jeff Danna; cast: Samuel L. Jackson (Abel Turner), Kerry Washington (Lisa Mattson), Patrick Wilson (Chris Mattson), Ron Glass (Harold Perreau), Justin Chambers (Donnie Eaton), Jay Hernandez (Javier Villareal), Regine Nehy (Celia Turner), Jaishon Fisher (Marcus Turner), Robert Pine (Captain Wentworth), Keith Loneker (Clarence Darlington), Caleeb Pinkett (Damon Richards); Runtime: 106; MPAA Rating: PG-13; producers: Will Smith/James Lassiter; Sony Pictures; 2008)
“An intense drama about neighbors who can’t get along.”
Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz
An intense drama about neighbors who can’t get along. It peters out when it becomes muddled and fails to say what it means about black and white relations. Director Neil LaBute (“In the Company of Men”/”Nurse Betty”) purports to examine the dynamics of black and white relations in the same San Fernando Valley where the Rodney Scott racial incident in 1991 took place, but the story by David Loughery and the screenplay by Loughery and Howard Korder takes us nowhere after a promising start.
Samuel L. Jackson is the rigid disciplinarian widowed single parent to two kids (Regine Nehy, Jaishon Fisher), a hardass LAPD veteran freaking out when his new next door neighbor to his upscale suburban LA home is a liberal inter-racial couple (Kerry Washington & Patrick Wilson). There’s no room for getting along after Jackson verbally intimidates the white Wilson and bristles when his disdainful daughter relates better to Kerry than to him. A reign of terror begins when Jackson is determined to get the couple to move, as floodlights are misused, tires are slashed and chain saws lop off branches that go over the border, until at last guns are pulled by the men.
The conventional thriller with the add-on plot twist of racism, has the seething racially-obsessed cop take out his frustrations on the innocent couple who seemingly don’t have the experience or wit to deal with such misplaced hostility. If there was some point to this angry film, it never came across. What comes across is a queasy depiction of an uber cop trying to force his views on others.
REVIEWED ON 4/15/2017 GRADE: C+