Film Review by Kam Williams
Headline: Samuel L. Jackson Stars in Disappointing Outing as Racist Cop
This cinematic fiasco rings false from beginning to end, from its patently absurd premise clear through to its unintentionally funny resolution. Unless director Neil LaBute pulled a switcheroo, I’d guess Samuel L. Jackson and Kerry Washington must have known even when they read the script that they had a turkey on their hands, yet they probably decided to sign on the bottom line anyway for one of those take-the-money-and-run paydays.
Get a load of how ridiculous the plot is: Jackson plays Abel “A.T.” Turner, a short-tempered bigot with a very specific prejudice, namely, mixed couples where the man is white and the woman is black. Otherwise, he has plenty of friends of every ethnicity.
Now, on an LAPD cop’s salary, this widower in need of anger management somehow owns a mountaintop home with a view in an upscale section of Los Angeles. At the point of departure, newlyweds Chris (Patrick Wilson) and Lisa Mattson (Washington) buy the house next-door, and wouldn’t you know he’s Caucasian and she’s African-American. Pleasant and attractive, but dumber than dirt, the clueless couple fails to pick up on the fact that A.T. is out to make their lives a living Hell.
Their denseness enables Abel to find meaning in life by secretly torturing them, even though he’s a gainfully-employed, single-dad raising a couple of kids (Regine Nehy and Jaishon Fisher) alone since his wife died three years ago. Nonetheless, the sadist embarks on an ever-escalating reign of terror which includes such Geneva Conventions violations as “accidentally” banging Chris’ hand with a wrench on purpose, training floodlights on his new neighbors’ property, trimming their tress without permission, sabotaging their air conditioner, and hiring a hoodlum (Keith Loneker) to trash their house, to name a few.
But no matter how devious or cruel A.T. gets, the Stepford-like Mattsons merely question themselves rather than suspect that their many misfortunes might be the work of a racist psycho. So, in between Abel’s dastardly deeds, they keep accepting his social invitations, even sometimes apologizing, when they’ve done nothing wrong.
Protagonists this dumb don’t deserve an audience’s sympathy, especially when they recycle lame Rodney King poster-speak like “Can’t we all just get along?” This has the unfortunate effect of turning the movie into a comedy prior to the denouement confessional during which they belatedly wise up.
You don’t have to be a Biblical scholar to figure out what happens to Abel next, although investing your hard-earned cash and a couple of hours in a molasses-paced picture this pathetic is likely to leave you raising Cain.
10 Worst List bad.
Poor (0 stars)
Rated PG-13 for sexuality, profanity, mature themes, violence and drug references
Running time: 110 minutes
Studio: Screen Gems
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