Dir: Neil LaBute
Star: Samuel L. Jackson, Patrick Wilson, Kerry Washington, Regine Nehy
The cable description of this one had Jackson’s LAPD officer, Abel Turner growing “increasingly hostile” towards the inter-racial Mattsons (Wilson and Washington), who move in next door to him. We’re down for pretty much anything with Jackson becoming increasingly hostile, whether the target of the hostility is snakes on his plane or whatever. This is, of course, complete nonsense, yet is watchable enough. It’s an interesting wrinkle to make the racist cop African-American, but the film doesn’t seem to have much interest in going any deeper than scratching the surface of that concept. He is pretty much the only character to show development over the course of the movie: initially, he seems not exactly abnormal, a little over-protective of his kids, perhaps. As the film goes on, however, he becomes…
Well, the phrase “increasingly hostile” was spot on the mark, from slashing tires up to the point where he has developed into a full-blown loony, who hires a thug to smash up his neighbours’ house, and shoots the thug dead when it seems like he might get caught. Part of the problem is that the Mattsons are not undeserving of the hostility. For instance, when Turner’s security lights disrupt their sleep, rather than – oh, I dunno, putting up some frickin’ curtains, the husband makes a beeline next-door to demand the lights are turned off. Similarly, one little party, and he’s storming round to demand silence, and also flicks his cigarette butts into Turner’s garden.
Sheesh. I’d be unhappy if someone moved in next door to us and started doing all that to us. There is also a rather pointless subplot involving a wildfire that is approaching the neighborhood, which keeps looking as if it is going to be of real significance in some way, yet never materializes, and a major flaw in that the yuppie Mattson is apparently able to beat down cop Turner in a fistfight. Enjoyable though it is to watch Jackson turn in his usual, reliable performance, the problems with this are significant and severe enough to stop it from being any more than a time-passer.