Movies: Lakeview Terrace

September 25, 2008

by Justin Phillips

Samuel L. Jackson, over the last few years, has had a tendency of taking part in some cinematic endeavors that, to put it plainly, have been awful.

Let’s reminisce over some of Jackson’s recent visual train wrecks:
Deep Blue Sea; terrible.
The Man; beyond horrible.
Snakes on a Plane; so excruciatingly painful, it was hilarious.
1408; almost as bad as The Ring.

Fortunately, for me and the millions of other Sam Jack fans, he restored a bit of his reputation and our faith in him in Lakeview Terrace.

Jackson plays Abel Turner, a veteran Los Angeles cop whose conservative, law-and-order beliefs make him a tough law enforcement agent, but also a hate-filled citizen in the openly liberal state of California.

At the beginning of the movie, an attractive young married couple, Chris and Lisa Mattson (played by Kerry Washington and Patrick Wilson) move into Turner’s quiet, southern California neighborhood over-looking the L.A. hills.

The movie is reminiscent of a heating tea kettle; the more time passes, the more it becomes blindingly clear the strain heating the three characters’ intertwining relationships will reach an intense boiling point.

Turner, whose views on race and social norms seem to come straight from the Jim Crow era, tries to get the couple to move from his neighborhood with intimidation and sometimes just plain vandalism.

Jackson’s character progresses from angry to menacing to murderous as the characters struggle to find a way to protect themselves while still trying to get even with one another.

Turner has the upper hand in every scenario being that he is a decorated police officer for the LAPD.

The one flaw in this movie is in Jackson’s character. He seems so over the top in a way only Samuel L. Jackson can be.

With some of the scenes seeming so extreme in the way Jackson behaves, the film almost seems like a parody of the genre it falls into at times.

Remember when Dave Chappelle did the Sam Adams beer commercial on the Chappelle Show as Samuel Jackson?

Well, take that character and place him within a feature length film and there is Abel.

Outside of some borderline overacting, the movie does well in portraying the strain present when small-town, closed-minded ideals meet the wide-open perspectives of young liberals. The movie is far from groundbreaking when it comes to shedding light on racial stereotypes, but it is an interesting adventure.