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on September 22, 2008
Don't think for one second that director Neil LaBute and screenwriters David Loughery and Howard Korder didn't know what they were doing. "Lakeview Terrace" is not merely a disturbing thriller about a black cop that hates his neighbors for being an interracial couple; it's an intelligent, thought-provoking examination of race relations in general, strengthened by its atypical cinematic approach to racism. How different would the reaction to this film be if the roles were reversed, if it told the story of a racist white cop that hated his black neighbor? It would most likely be ignored, because goodness knows we've seen such movies before. "Lakeview Terrace" is refreshing in its willingness to look at things from a largely unseen perspective, which in turn gives the audience more to think about. What a mature turn for LaBute, who completely missed the mark with his God-awful 2006 remake of "The Wicker Man."

It should be noted here that Lakeview Terrace, a suburb of Los Angeles, is where Rodney King was beaten and arrested by the police in the spring of 1991. This is obviously not a coincidence on the filmmaker's part, and neither is the fact that the story is ambiguous in its social commentary. Essentially, LaBute expects up to make up our own minds about who's right and who's wrong. Granted, it seems pretty clear-cut throughout the film; LAPD officer Abel Turner (Samuel L. Jackson) goes to great lengths to destroy the lives of his new next-door neighbors, and he does so because the husband, Chris Mattson (Patrick Wilson), is white and the wife, Lisa (Kerry Washington), is black. Turner begins slowly, dropping a series of subtle hints. His security lights, for example, come on in the middle of the night, and they shine directly into the Mattsons' bedroom. As the film progresses, his hostility escalates into full-blown psychological warfare.

I'm making this sound far too simple. Turner is not merely an evil man; as both a cop and a single father, he's seen his fair share of injustice. To elaborate would give too much away, but rest assured, he has very definite reasons for hating his neighbors, for wanting to not only get them out of Lakeview Terrace, but also to drive a wedge between them. Chris and Lisa are introduced as a lovey-dovey couple happy to be first-time homeowners. But it isn't long before tensions begin mounting. Example: Chris is hesitant to start a family even though Lisa is eager. He has legitimate reasons for wanting to wait; they just moved in, after all, and they need time to settle into their new lives. In spite of this, one can't help but believe it has nothing to do with settling in. While not directly stated, it may, in fact, have to do with raising biracial children. This, as it turns out, is a source of tension between Chris and Lisa's father, Harold (Ron Glass), who never seems to address his son-in-law without a great deal of effort.

Is it possible that Chris and Lisa were never meant to be together? Did they fall in love for all the wrong reasons? Again, none of this directly stated. But considering the way they're now treating each other, it seems very likely that they're rethinking some of the decisions they've made. Lisa thinks their biggest mistake was moving to Lakeview Terrace, not just because their neighbor is unfriendly, but also because she's away from her family and her friends. Chris, determined to prove himself as both a husband and a man, refuses to leave the neighborhood. This paves the way for the film's last twenty minutes, which, on the surface, unfolds in much the same way as an ordinary thriller. Below the surface lies miscommunication, grief, and a lifetime of hard feelings, none of which make it easy to determine who represents good and who represents evil. I say this because, when the climactic final battle between Chris and Turner begins, we immediately see that both men are pointing guns at each other.

The most interesting moments in "Lakeview Terrace" occur within the first ten minutes, when Turner and his children meet at the breakfast table. His young son, Marcus (Jaishon Fisher), comes downstairs wearing a Lakers jersey. Turner wants him to take it off because it displays the number twenty-four, which is Kobe Bryant's number. He's made it abundantly clear that from now on, they're giving all their support to Shaq. Why? Is it because of Bryant's highly publicized extramarital affair? Immediately afterwards, he scolds his fifteen-year-old daughter, Celia (Regine Nehy), for not using correct English. Is he encouraging his children to be the best they can be, or is he controlling them because improper speech reminds him of someone he hates?

While these questions are never answered, they still add a tremendous amount of depth to the story, solidifying Turner as a man holding a grudge against the world. I have no doubt that some audiences will see things from his point of view; when life hurts you a few too many times, hatred is completely understandable. On the same token, I'm sure that many will have no sympathy for him at all. Some will see him as a heartless monster preying on an innocent couple. Both arguments are valid. You should take them into consideration when watching "Lakeview Terrace," a taut, suspenseful human drama that will make you uncomfortable no matter what side you take. My hope is that it will start a line of communication. If it doesn't lead to peace, then maybe it will lead to an understanding. Of all the things noticeably absent from "Lakeview Terrace," a line of communication is the most important.
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on December 15, 2008
There's an inherent problem with making a movie of this kind: unless you're a creative genius of your time, these sorts of movies have the potential to turn real generic, REAL fast.

Reminiscent of Denzel Washington from Training Day, we see Samuel L. Jackson play an overly aggressive cop with an agenda, with the movie focusing on the problems he's causing for his new neighbors. A completely realistic situation that can take place anywhere. Problem is, because a movie like this is completely character driven, after you have the nice slow build up to the climax, once the tension snaps, you're relegated to basically a generically default final act of the movie where "the bad guy finally comes out of the proverbial shadows and literally chases the hero." (i.e. Disturbia,The Glass House). It's a shame too because the buildup on this was very good. Samuel L. Jackson was really scary here, he played that bullying, obsessive character perfect. The only acting problems I saw were 2-3 moments from Kerry Washington where her sad face was done poorly, with overly done lip quivers and facial movements (similar to Kirsten Dunst's crying scenes from the Spider-Man movies, except done in a BAD way).

With a movie like this, you pretty much have these possible outcomes:

1) the generic, semi-predictable ending (like we got here).
2) tragic ending with hero dying at the end.
3) an unpredictable twist coming out of left field (this has the potential to be very good or very bad).
4) a Great ending.

Unfortunately we usually get number one, since they wanna give the satisfying, safe, effective, tried and true, Hollywood ending. Most people are content with those types of cop out endings. I'm not.
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on September 27, 2013
I saw part of this on TV and that is why purchased it. Couldn't rely on seeing it listed. I haven't watched the DVD yet, but the portion I saw on TV tells me I'll really enjoy seeing it from start to finish. I like Patrick Wilson is under-rated -- he is a good actor (and a good singer as well). Wish they made musicals again - I know he has appeared in revivals -- but would be nice to see him in a film that is a musical. And, as I said before -- he is a good actor. Good facial expressions - and above all, believable.
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on October 22, 2014
Good movie. Samuel Jackson was convincing as a troubled police officer. This movie addresses the topics of racism and abuse of authority in a unique fashion. Congratulations to the producers for a work that depicted a high level of creativity.
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on August 29, 2013
I am paralyzed on one side visually impaired from gunshot overseas I am thrilled to be able to purchased this wonderful item online have delivered to my door without needing to order the Handicap van to shop
I bought it for girlfriend for birthday she loved it
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on November 1, 2011
This is filled with immense hilarity and situations that will make you almost spill your soda. Samuel Jackson, whose on screen persona in every movie steals the show and is unmatched, is a police officer who holds on to old fashioned values. He makes his kids dress appropriately and watches them like a hawk. He heads the neighborhood watch and keeps an eye on the people who live on his block. And he doesn't like interracial marriage, so of course an interracial couple moves into the house next door! It couldn't possibly go any other way!

What ensues are moments of sheer laughter as he bursts the bubble of the tree hugging, Toyota Prius driving, veggie steaming lefty husband of the black woman. The husband is smoking a cigarette in his Prius (an ORGANIC one as he points out to Jackson, HA!) because his wife doesn't like him doing so. He has rap music playing and Jackson tells him, "You know you can play that noise all night long and when you wake up tomorrow morning, you'll still be white." If that alone does not convince you to watch this movie, let's take into account Sam's 90% of the way strip tease at their pool to his boxers and going "Let's let it all hang out! WOOOOO!", his throwing a loud party with strippers, vandalizing the Prius, firing up the electric cutters when his new neighbors try to create a wall of privacy with shrubery, and his use of outdoor lighting to piss them off. Of course things escalate big time and result in him storming their house with a gun, but I won't say anything else. One of the best scenes is before the bad blood really gets going, when the couple invite him over for a house warming party. He gets into an argument with their friends about the temperment of police officers and...wait for it...global warming! ROFL Pop open a drink, have a snack at the ready and enjoy the humor of the drama as you wish Sammy would launch into his quoting of Ezekial from Pulp Fiction each time he fires a volley in their direction.
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on February 16, 2009
SPOILER ALERT!!!

Samuel L. Jackson plays Able, a bad cop who can't stand his new neighbors who happen to be an interracial couple. He has a real problem with their relationship (his black wife apparently cheated on him with a white guy, and that really stuck in his craw), and he has no qualms about letting them know; he cuts their air conditioning unit lines, slashes their tires, shines security lights into their bedroom at night and hires someone to break into their house, etc. All these acts are not met without retaliation, but the new neighbors just can't seem to shake the bad cop because, as Able puts it, "I am the po-lice!" It's a frustrating movie, and having a neighbor like Able would certainly make me want to pack my bags and flee the premises. Definitely a fun suspense film, but there wasn't much else to the plot aside from the terrorizing that was shown in the previews. The film tried to be more about the couple being a family, but I didn't really care about them so much as I cared about how they were going to defeat Able in the end. And the end wrapped up too quickly. I thought there would be a little bit more of a happily-ever-after deal. Good for a rental.
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on June 8, 2012
I had saw this movie back when it was out..I think it is a great dram/thriller, but love ole Samuel L. Jackson, he is a good/bad guy and sort of funny with him as well..A good thriller and a must see!
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on February 2, 2013
What a thriller. Saw it years ago and had to have it for my collection. The acting was great. Highly recommend it. Thanks for the prompt and courteous service. Looking forward to future purchases.
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on September 23, 2013
Kerry Washington adds at least one star to any movie review. This was a great movie and I don't understand why it didn't do that well in theaters, especially with Kerry, Samuel L. Jackson and Patrick Wilson in the cast. Fences may make good neighbors, but certainly not in this film (you'll have to see it to understand)! A bad-ass, semi-psycho cop (Jackson) doesn't like it when an interracial couple (Washington & Wilson) moves into the house next door. He REALLY doesn't like it. Check it out yourself!
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