I expected a pretty horrendous movie when my girlfriend’s little brother came back from Blockbuster with this, the latest of 8 million Samuel L. Jackson movies. Don’t get me wrong. I love Mr. Jackson. He screams and yells and he’s a badass motha fucka, but generally I find that he’s best not as the central focus of a film but as an enhancement and a complement to its general quality. Know what I mean? And I didn’t even think the plot revolved around him so heavily – but it does.
Jackson is an L.A. cop and a single dad to a teenage girl and a younger boy. And he’s a strict single parent. His wife died. He’s sad and misses her – and there’s a twist to her death! In next door moves an interracial couple, and Mr. Jackson doesn’t like one bit that a white guy is with a black girl. And basically he doesn’t treat them so nice. I was surprised at the degree to which the movie fleshed out a generally unexplored racial tension: older black men disapproving of relationships between white men and black women. Who knew!?
The situation devolves into a tit for tat battle of escalating proportions. The thing that gets frustrating is that you’re like, okay! We get it! It’s escalating – bring it to the next level. But it keeps escalating. Again, the movie’s not that bad. The things that happen between the couple next door and Mr. L. Jackson are interesting and sometimes a little twisted. The film even makes you uncomfortable in spots and adds a decent element of suspense. It’s just like, okay, fine, get on with it.
If you’re looking for cheap action and mild engagement then knock yourself out but otherwise, I say veer in the direction of some more classically entertaining Samuel L. Jackson – like say, Pulp Fiction.
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