Film Reviews: Lakeview Terrace/Jumper (Samuel L. Jackson Double Feature)

 samuel l jackson Film Reviews: Lakeview Terrace/Jumper (Samuel L. Jackson Double Feature)

Everyone probably has a favorite Samuel L. Jackson film.  From the gritty Jungle Fever to the underrated Unbreakable, to the Star Wars prequels, Jackson has had an interesting and varied career.  As of late though, he’s been taking one money grab after the next.  Starring in such schlock as the laughable Snakes on a Plane and the two films being reviewed here.  My personal favorite Sam Jackson film is the underrated southern gothic mystery, Eve’s Bayou (sorry, Pulp Fiction fans).  Directed with great skill by Kasi Lemmons, the film flew a bit under the radar despite some terrific reviews.  I hold out very little hope that Sam will go back to those kind of low budget gems. 

Lakeview Terrace is the more “serious” of the two films.  Jackson is in psycho mode from the start hamming it up as a racist cop named Abel (very subtle) who becomes enraged when a mixed race couple moves into his affluent neighborhood.  The couple is ably played by Patrick Wilson and the lovely Kerry Washington.  Wilson is a Prius-driving liberal nice guy who immediately comes into contact with sinister Sammy Jackson.  Jackson sneers and rants against whites, liberals, and Jews while gaining no one’s sympathy.  A lame late in the game twist gives his character a sob story that wouldn’t pass muster on Gossip Girl.  Lakeview looks good but its ultimately a dopey film that has nothing new to add to racial conflict and is directed by the formerly talented Neil Labute.  Labute (In the Company of Men, Your Friends and Neighbors) should go back to misogyny and his warped issues with women that shaped his earlier films.  At least those films had an edge to them and didn’t try to manipulate the audience to feeling sympathy for its creepy yuppie thugs.  Lakeview Terrace starts out just fine, but quickly turns into a slasher flick with artsy pretensions.  I’ll take Friday the 13th any day of the week.

Jumper has a nifty premise and some cool visuals, but is also basically DOA.  Starring Star Wars non-actor Hayden Christiansen as the least likable hero in any fantasy action flick in recent memory as a “jumper” who can transport anywhere on earth but most avoid a nasty group of psychos led by Jackson (who plays a character named Roland) who are called Paladins.   Rachel Bilson (mostly looking lost) is Hayden’s bland love interest, and along the way he meets a fellow jumper played by the talented Jamie Bell (Billy Elliot) who warns Hayden of the paladins and a “war”, which we never see.  Teeming with effects and an interesting premise, Jumper is more a disappointment than a bad film.  We never learn why the Paladins hate the jumpers, there’s no backstory or mythology created at all, and ultimately no real reason to care about the characters in the film.  Sammy again hams it up and sneers under yet another bizarre hairstyle, which is more interesting than the character he plays.  Based on a series of popular books (which I’m sure are better than this film) and directed by the talented Doug Liman, Jumper is merely a cheesy waste of time that should have been a lot better than it was.  Both films are available now on DVD.

Lakeview Terrace: C-

Jumper: C

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