Lakeview Terrace Movie Review
There are two types of Samuel L. Jackson movies in the world: the good ones and the bad ones. Sadly, the latter far outweighs the former, and his latest - which by some accounts is his 1,387th movie - falls into that category.
Lakeview Terrace stars Patrick Wilson and Kerry Washington as a couple who has just moved to Los Angeles and bought their first home. The house is nice and has a great view, but their neighbor begins to cause friction almost immediately. He immediately begins to harass the two of them, but his hatred toward their relationship soon develops into something nastier. Unfortunately for the lovely couple, the man is also a cop, forcing them to take matters into their own hands.
I've seen Wilson a lot lately, having just re-watched Little Children and The Phantom of the Opera not long ago. Furthermore, just the other night, I watched Watchmen, in which he stars. He's a pretty good actor, though is best when playing the slightly quiet, not-quite-assertive husband/boyfriend. Unfortunately, this is also a pretty uninteresting realm of character to play, and he's pretty dull here. Kerry Washington, unfortunately, feels like a third wheel - even though there was plenty of room to give her equal weighting. Her character is pretty one-dimensional, though it doesn't really matter; both she and Wilson lack much chemistry, and their relationship feels strained and forced.
Jackson is his typical self, though he's played better scene-chewing characters in the past. He, too, has shown up for a paycheck and nothing more, as he basically spouts out his lines, winks and smiles a bit and otherwise doesn't have to worry about depth and complexity.
Mind you, depth and complexity are exactly what a movie like this needs to be successful. The screenplay fails to explore the motives for Jackson's racism; the motives don't have to be logical, but they do have to get you thinking. Unfortunately, Lakeview Terrace is about as shallow as a film can get, resorting to basic plot gimmicks and unrealistic developments. Beyond plot, the dialogue is poorly constructed and cheesy.
Nevertheless, Lakeview Terrace is more a disappointment than a painful experience. It moves along at a brisk pace and is relatively entertaining.
Still, a better screenplay with a few tweaks could have made a world of difference, evoking stronger performances out of the actors and providing more sensible character development. Had this been an R-rated character study, it could have been Training Day; instead, it's a forgettable B-grade thriller.
OK, maybe comparing it to Training Day was generous. Really generous.
Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.