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September 2008

by Wilson Morales


Distributor: Screen Gems
Director: Neil LaBute
Screenwriters: David Loughery and Howard Korder
Cinematographer: Rogier Stoffers
Composer: Mychael Danna, Jeff Danna
Cast: Samuel L. Jackson, Patrick Wilson, Kerry Washington, Eva La Rue, Jay Hernandez
Running Time: 1:50
Rating: PG-13 (Profanity, Violence, Sexual Situations)


Being known as one of the hardest working man in Hollywood does have some drawbacks to the trait. After awhile, as often as we see the person on screen, you start to wonder what’s left to be desired. Such is the case with Samuel L. Jackson. Every time one of his films comes out, you ask yourself, ‘Didn’t he just have a film out recently?’ and how good or bad will this one be. Unlike some of his counterparts like Will Smith or Denzel Washington where their films comes out months in between each other, Jackson’s films are weeks if not a month apart. With his latest film, ‘Lakeview Terrace’, Jackson is actually good and menacing in his role, but then the film falls apart like a house of cards. Neil Labute, a well-known playwright who came into the film industry with decent films like ‘In The Company of Men’, ‘Your Friends and Neighbors’ and ‘Nurse Betty’, which featured Morgan Freeman and Chris Rock, has somehow become the stereotypical director doing straight by-the-books predictable studio films with big names attached for commercial release.

Patrick Wilson and Kerry Washington plays Chris and Lisa Mattson, a young interracial married couple who have recently purchased their first home in California and are looking to get settled before starting a family. Living next to them is Abel Turner (Jackson), an LAPD office who’s been on the force for 28 years. One would think that this is good thing to have living next to you, right? Not this cop, seems that Abel has ‘a thing’ against the Mattson from the outset and aims to let them know of his feelings in various ways. Getting no support from the community or law enforcement, the Mattson are left on their own to fend off this ‘watchdog of the neighborhood’.

If you happen to be a film buff like I am, you start to think whether or not this is another version of ‘Pacific Heights’ with Matthew Modine, or ‘Unlawful Entry’ with Ray Liotta, and I’m sure there are other films that come to mind as well. Putting in a racial couple in the plot sounds intriguing especially when the focus is on them and seeing what they are going through as a young couple in a new neighborhood, and Sam’s character is not clichéd as in other films. In similar films, the neighbor is never as nice as he or she appears to be. Here, Turner is a single dad trying his best to raise two kids while putting his life on the line everyday as a cop, and ‘protecting’ a well guarded community. He’s senses that a racial couple living his neighborhood may bring in some unintentional drama and he aims to do something about it. I liked where this was going. Then somewhere in the middle of the film, the writers took a coffee break and never came back; Turner turned into this psycho where all hell breaks loose. If you have seen enough of Jackson’s films, then you know that he doesn’t need dialogue to perform. His eyes does all the talking for him. You can see the where the film will go from your seats, and you don’t have to be at the edge of it. Washington and Wilson were interesting to watch in the beginning but when the film becomes formulaic, you don’t care anymore. A house of cards only stands still if carefully placed, but with ‘Lakeview Terrace’, too many false and quick moves doomed it.