Saturday, September 27, 2008

Review - Lakeview Terrace

An inter-racially mixed couple move into their new home in a up scale so-cal neighborhood quickly find out that their next door neighbor isn't as inviting as they hoped. The couple would like to just fit in and settle down, however their neighbor has some very invasive tactics and a completely different agenda then allowing the couple to just settle in to their new home and neighborhood. To make matters worse the couple soon realize that their neighbor is a LAPD officer and takes matters of the law into his own hands. What could be safer than living next to a cop?

Directed by Neil LaBute Lakeview Terrace sets a strong mood and has great pacing but the overall message and subtext are so contrived and heavily pushed upon the viewer it loses all potency. LaBute using racial under-tones as the driving force behind the film begins to wear upon the viewer to the point where enjoyment has subsided and annoyment sets in. Lakeview Terrace had potential becoming a strong thriller about personal space, private property, and just how far the law can bend in the wrong hands. Instead it turned into a racially driven pissing contest between two neighbors that leaves the viewer wondering, "what was the point?"

Patrick Wilson plays Chris Mattson and does a good job with what he is given, which isn't much. His character depth goes as far as the script will let him, which ultimately is very one dimensional. The one positive to his character is that both he and his wife Lisa Mattson played by Kerry Washington get the viewers sympathy. Continually throughout Lakeview Terrace you wonder just how much crazier is Samuel L. Jackson character gonna get. Furthermore asking yourself, are people still this worried about inter-racial marriage? And if so, does it mean you should intrude on a person's life to the all the extreme's Abel Turner takes them? These angles of the film are just too hard to get past and had me inbetween disgust and hysteria.

Samuel L. Jackson's performance is strong throughout Lakeview Terrace, however his character is so ridiculous, so annoying and is downright delusional, it's hard to get past. From the beginning of the film we know that Abel Turner's wife is dead and he is rasing his two children on his own. He has been serving the LAPD for 28 years and has more than a chip on his shoulder. He has a very dry wit and abrasive style when it comes to his job and authoritarian attitude towards his children and the neighborhood he lives in. Abel uses raising his two children as a scape goat for his actions against driving Chris & Lisa Mattson out of the neighborhood, which isn't believable in the slighest when you see the lengths he is willing to go to. I found Turner's character to be so self-righteous and so bigoted with no defendable reasoning leaving me unimpressed with the development of the film and his character.

Overall Lakeview Terrace felt like a bad hodge podge of "Unlawful Entry" and a racially driven Samuel L. Jackson character. The writers tried to bring some of the same flare to Jackson dialogue as Pulp Fiction's iconic monologue, however most of it feels out of touch, over done and downright childish. Every other scene Jackson has a new racial joke to throw at Wilson like, "you can listen to rap music forever and you'll still be white" or "got a little black irish in you" and those are just the tip of the iceberg. The racial under-tones of the film ultimately kill the energy and intensity that is built up between the two neighbors leaving no structure for a strong ending, but instead a forced climax that had me laughing. Finally Lakeview Terrace was a film that had great leading men in Patrick Wilson and Samuel L. Jackson but could not get past the shotty writting and terrible under-tones that left the viewer with a bad taste in their mouths and a hope they dont run into a police officer as deranged as Able Turner.