A review of “Lakeview Terrace” by Jeanne Aufmuth

 

Stars: *** 1/2

Rating: PG-13 for language, violence and mature themes

Run Time: 1 hour, 46 minutes

 

 

          A crack cast and chilling performance by psycho stalwart Samuel L. Jackson anchors this smart and suspenseful thriller.

          Jackson is LA cop Abel Turner, an edgy single dad of two whose grip on sanity and the responsibilities of neighborhood watch is a tad tight.

          New neighbors Chris and Lisa Mattson (Patrick Wilson and Kerry Washington) find out the hard way. Abel doesn’t take kindly to their bi-racial coupling and makes it known in a number of intimidating ways; security lights shining in windows, noisy late-night parties and ethnic slurs evocative of racist gold-standard “Crash”.

          The Mattsons steadfastly cling to their politically correct cocoon, refusing to apply significance where there may be none. Ultimately the situation unravels and they crest a breaking point -- turning home-front into battle-front. Payback’s a bitch!

          “Lakeview” is a tidy dramatic ensemble piece in the guise of a trite and choleric action pic. Wilson and Washington boast thespian cred in navigating the sticky wickets of their complicated union, tacit truths bubbling to the surface when the heat is turned high.

          Jackson can do wrath in his sleep but his is a potent turn as a powder keg ready to blow; simmering acceleration from the grey area of implication to the black and white reality of acute humiliation.

          Meaty paranoiac thrillers are my thing and the good ones are few and far between. Divisive director Neil LaBute (“In the Company of Men”, “Nurse Betty”) makes nary a misstep with David Loughery and Howard Korder’s prickly script, turning convention to controversy and climaxing with the ubiquitous yet desirable bang. Good stuff.