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Lakeview Terrace Movie Review | Samuel L. Jackson, Patrick Wilson, Kerry Washington, Jay Hernandez

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  Lakeview Terrace Movie Review (2 Stars)
      Film Critic Michael Phillips Reviews "Lakeview Terrace"


The Movie Lakeview Terrace

Lakeview Terrace Starring Samuel L. Jackson, Patrick Wilson, Kerry Washington, Jay Hernandez, Regine Nehy | Film Critic Michael Phillips Reviews Lakeview Terrace | Video
Samuel L. Jackson stars in "Lakeview Terrace"

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Here, I think, is the film that director Neil LaBute and screenwriters David Loughery and Howard Korder thought they had with "Lakeview Terrace."

In a sleepy middle-class suburb east of Los Angeles, a tightly wound widower and LAPD officer, played by Samuel L. Jackson, lives with his daughter and son. The mixed-race couple moving in next door, perilously close to the wildfires threatening the nearby hills and canyons, consists of bland, white Chris (Patrick Wilson) and nice, black Lisa (Kerry Washington). To Abel, the African-American cop, this is unacceptable.

He is a racial separatist, and at the root of his prejudices lies a nice, neat tragedy to pin everything on.

Everyone in the movie "Lakeview Terrace," if not overtly racist, is at least dodgy and blinkered in ways relating directly to being in an interracial marriage, or living in a multiethnic city on the brink of ruin even when it's not wildfire season. "I hear you"; "I know where you're coming from"; conversational placeholders such as these fill the dialogue. Yet is anyone really getting any closer to anyone?

That's the idea of the film, and it's a good one. The execution sells it short.

LaBute, whose own screenplays ("In the Company of Men") and stage plays ("Fat Pig") dine out on humankind's most egregious hypocrisies and venal acts of everyday callousness, stage-manages a minimally involving bad-to-worse, tit-for-tat race war played out in a cul-de-sac.

But it's a little depressing to see Jackson struggle with material that simultaneously showcases, marginalizes and demonizes his character. Racial tensions according to "Lakeview Terrace" are inevitable and inevitably fatal, no matter where you live.

The script is scrupulously careful not to paint all L.A. area cops as unstable vigilantes, but the one running this show is Abel, who seems to morph into Ray Liotta from "Unlawful Entry" at inconvenient junctures.

One wishes LaBute, a bleak satirist and, at his best, a crudely compelling dramatist, had taken the script and made it his own sort of twisted comedy instead of a routine thriller. (He took an uncredited pass after Korder, like LaBute a playwright-screenwriter, got done with it.)

The audience-identification figure is Chris, the Prius-driving, Utne Reader-reading Democrat who hides his cigarettes from his wife . He and Lisa, who has little to show for herself beyond wanting children far more, and sooner, than her husband, fall a dimension or two short of three dimensions. And wouldn't a wuss like Chris plant the For Sale sign in his yard the second the seething, conniving, threatening cop holding the gun and the badge starts playing games? He would, yes. But the white protagonist must prove himself to himself, to his doubting peach of a spouse and to the paying customers.

Producer Will Smith no doubt sees the project as a way of saying racism comes in all sorts of guises, yet Abel never seems fully human. He's a predetermined cog in a screenwriting wheel.

Early word on "Lakeview Terrace" suggested a film that starts well and devolves into thriller mechanics and implausibilities. I'd say it starts obviously and becomes a different kind of obvious as it goes. The computer-generated smoke and flames in the exterior backgrounds might as well carry subtitles reading: Hey! We're metaphors for this crazy "Crash"-y universe we call Southern California! The actors make it watchable, but with these incendiary themes, "watchable" isn't exactly a wildfire.


MPAA rating: PG-13 (for intense thematic material, violence, sexuality, language and some drug references).

Running time: 1:46.

Starring: Samuel L. Jackson (Abel Turner); Patrick Wilson (Chris Mattson); Kerry Washington (Lisa Mattson); Jay Hernandez (Javier Villareal); Regine Nehy (Celia Turner).

Directed by Neil LaBute; written by David Loughery and Howard Korder; photographed by Rogier Stoffers; edited by Joel Plotch; music by Mychael Danna and Jeff Danna; produced by James Lassiter and Will Smith. A Screen Gems release.

About "Lakeview Terrace" the Movie

Moving into a dream home on a quiet Southern California cul-de-sac becomes a nightmarish ordeal for a young couple in Lakeview Terrace, the latest explosive film from award-winning director Neil LaBute. Chris and Lisa Mattson (Patrick Wilson and Kerry Washington) have just moved into their new suburban house when they become the target of their next-door neighbor. A stern, single father, this tightly wound LAPD officer (Samuel L. Jackson) has appointed himself the watchdog of the neighborhood. His nightly foot patrols and overly watchful eyes bring comfort to some, but he becomes increasingly harassing to the newlyweds. These persistent intrusions into their lives ultimately turn tragic when the couple decides to fight back.

Old guard and new school clash in Lakeview Terrace, a button-pushing thriller starring Samuel L. Jackson (Pulp Fiction), Patrick Wilson (Little Children), Kerry Washington (Ray, The Last King of Scotland) and Jay Hernandez (Grindhouse). Screen Gems presents an Overbrook Entertainment Production, directed by Neil LaBute (Your Friends and Neighbors, In the Company of Men) from a screenplay by David Loughery (The Three Musketeers; Star Trek V:The Final Frontier) and Howard Korder (Stealing Sinatra), based on the story by Loughery. The film is produced by Overbrook's James Lassiter and Will Smith (ATL). Joe Pichirallo, John Cameron, David Loughery and Jeff Graup are the executive producers. Rogier Stoffers, N.S.C. (Disturbia) is director of photography. Production designer is Bruton Jones (Solstice) and the film is edited by Joel Plotch (The Wicker Man). The costume designer is Lynette Meyer (Nurse Betty). The music is by Mychael Danna and Jeff Danna. The casting is by Heidi Levitt, CSA.

Veteran Los Angeles cop Abel Turner (Jackson) guards his neighborhood with the same zeal he brings to his patrol route. The single father of a teenaged daughter and preteen son, Abel is one-man security force, ensuring that his strict standards of behavior are adhered to, even if it means ruffling a few feathers in the process.

Chris (Patrick Wilson) and Lisa Mattson (Kerry Washington), a progressive and upwardly mobile couple, move in next door to Turner, who disapproves of their interracial marriage. Hoping to rid the neighborhood of anything or anyone he deems "undesirable," Turner launches an escalating series of pranks and insults against the Mattsons. From ignoring their request to focus his high-voltage safety lights away from their bedroom to disrupting a housewarming party, Abel takes full advantage of his police connections to antagonize his new neighbors with impunity, hoping to get them to pick up and move out.

When their air conditioning unit is sabotaged in the middle of a heat wave and their car tires are mysteriously slashed, the Mattsons begin to suspect Abel is behind their troubles. But without proof, they can only try to negotiate a truce-an offer Abel does not accept.

Abel's anger flares when his use of inappropriate force on the job lands him on extended leave and he discovers his daughter has been spending time with Lisa. Devoting himself fulltime to harassing his young neighbors, he raises the stakes by hosting a raucous bachelor party at his house that goes on into the wee hours. With music still blasting at 3:00 am, Chris attempts to reason with Turner in an attempt to get some quiet. But Abel turns the tables on Chris, forcing him into a compromising position with the party strippers that is taped and presented to Lisa.

As Abel crosses the line from annoying neighbor to dangerous adversary, the couple tries to fight back, which only feeds Turner's fury. With the resentment between the neighbors building daily, it's only a matter of time before the situation escalates into a potentially deadly stand off.

Lakeview Terrace is rated PG-13 for intense thematic material, violence, sexuality, language and some drug references. The running time is 1 hour, 46 minutes.

About the Cast "Lakeview Terrace" the Movie


Respectfully labeled as one of the hardest working actors in Hollywood, Jackson is an undisputed star as demonstrated by the fact that his films have grossed more money in box office sales than any other actor in the world.

The recipient of worldwide acclaim and notoriety, Jackson has been honored with a variety of awards from some of the most prestigious organizations. He won the Best Supporting Actor award by the Cannes Film Festival in 1991 for Jungle Fever, the Silver Bear Award at the Berlin Film Festival in 1998 on behalf of Jackie Brown, he has received three Golden Globe nominations for Pulp Fiction, A Time to Kill and Jackie Brown, five NAACP Image Award nominations and one win in 2005 for his performance in Coach Carter, and most recently he has garnered two People's Choice Award nominations in 2006 and 2007 for Favorite Male Actor.

Jackson made an indelible mark on American cinema with his portrayal of 'Jules', the philosophizing hitman, in Quentin Tarantino's Pulp Fiction. In addition to unanimous critical acclaim for his performance, he received Academy Award® and Golden Globe nominations as Best Supporting Actor as well as a Best Supporting Actor award from the British Academy of Film and Television Arts.

Among his many award-winning performances, Jackson made movie history with his portrayal of a crack addict in Spike Lee's Jungle Fever when he was awarded the first and only Best Supporting Performance Award ever given by the judges at the Cannes Film Festival.

Jackson was most recently seen in Iron Man in a surprise cameo appearance and in the Doug Liman directed sci-fi action film, Jumper. In late 2007, Jackson had a starring role in the acclaimed drama Resurrecting the Champ, and a supporting role in the horror film 1408, based on the Stephen King novel. Earlier this year, Jackson starred in the Craig Brewer film Black Snake Moan, and Irwin Winkler's MGM war drama Home of the Brave.

This fall, in addition to Lakeview Terrace, Jackson's films will include the Dimension Studios comedy "Soul Men" with Bernie Mac and then on Christmas day, Jackson will star in the Frank Miller action drama The Spirit, where he portrays the nemesis, 'Octopus.'

Other film credits include Cleaner, Snakes on a Plane, Coach Carter, Star Wars trilogy, In My Country, The Man, The Incredibles, S.W.A.T., Formula 51, Changing Lanes, Caveman's Valentine, Red Violin, Shaft, Unbreakable, 187, Eve's Bayou, Jackie Brown, The Negotiator, A Time To Kill, Die Hard with a Vengeance, The Long Kiss Goodnight and Deep Blue Sea.

On the small screen, Jackson serves as Executive Producer for the animated series for Spike TV, "Afro Samurai" which premiered in 2007 and will be returning for a second season in January 2009. He also just secured a first look television deal with CBS and their properties to produce and develop upcoming projects. In addition, Jackson has a production deal with New Line Cinema to produce and develop projects in which he has the option of starring. His first film project for the studio, in which Jackson will produce and star, is called Man That Rocks the Cradle.

PATRICK WILSON (Chris Mattson)

Is quickly becoming one of Hollywood's most accomplished actors, showcasing his talents in a multitude of demanding and diverse roles. He was seen recently in Evening, a drama with Meryl Streep, Glenn Close, Claire Danes and Vanessa Redgrave; Purple Violets, director Edward Burns' romantic drama co-starring Debra Messing and Selma Blair; and Little Children, a drama in which Wilson starred alongside Kate Winslet and Jennifer Connelly. In 2006, he starred opposite Ellen Page in the indie hit, Hard Candy, a psychological thriller.

Born in Virginia, Wilson grew up in St. Petersburg, Florida. His mother is a singer and voice teacher while his father is a TV anchor in Florida. Wilson received his BFA from Carnegie Mellon University.

Wilson first earned attention from New York audiences in the Off-Broadway musical adaptation "Bright Lights, Big City." His work earned him a Drama Desk nomination and a Drama League Award. Soon afterwards, he starred in the Broadway musical "Fascinating Rhythm," a revue of George and Ira Gershwin songs, which also earned the actor a Drama League Award.

Patrick starred in the Broadway musical revival of Rodgers and Hammerstein's "Oklahoma!" for which he was nominated for a second consecutive Tony Award for Leading Actor in a Musical for his portrayal of Curly. The first came in the lead role of Jerry Lukowski in the Broadway musical "The Full Monty." The role garnered Wilson rave reviews from critics and he received numerous nominations, including a Tony nomination for Leading Actor in a Musical, a Drama Desk Award nomination, a Drama League Award and an Outer Critics Circle nomination. Time Out New York voted it "one of the best performances of 2000."

The actor revisited his Broadway roots in 2006 alongside Amanda Peet, Jill Clayburgh and Tony Roberts in the Broadway revival of Neil Simon's 1963 classic romantic comedy "Barefoot in the Park," directed by Scott Elliot.

Wilson has shown his acting range in several high profile projects. On the big screen, he starred in Andrew Lloyd Webber's Phantom of the Opera, directed by Joel Schumacher. He also starred opposite Dennis Quaid and Billy Bob Thornton in The Alamo, directed by John Lee Hancock. On television, he received Golden Globe and Emmy nominations for "Angels in America," directed by Mike Nichols for HBO. In this 2004 Golden Globe and Emmy winner for Best Miniseries, based on Tony Kushner's play, Wilson starred opposite Meryl Streep, Al Pacino, Mary Louis Parker and Emma Thompson.

Wilson is also a singer and songwriter. He and his family currently reside in New York City.


Winner for "Outstanding Actress in a Motion Picture" for Ray at the NAACP Image Awards in 2005 and Nominated for an Independent Spirit Award for "Best Actress" in the film Lift in 2002, Kerry Washington is proving to be one of the busiest actresses in Hollywood. She garnered critical acclaim for her latest roles in The Last King of Scotland opposite Forest Whitaker for which she was nominated for "Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Motion Picture" at the NAACP Image Awards in 2007, and in The Dead Girl opposite Marcia Gay Harden and Brittany Murphy. Most recently, Washington was seen on the big screen in Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer reprising her role as Alicia Masters, as well as in I Think I Love My Wife opposite Chris Rock and the Wayans Brothers' comedy Little Man. She is currently in production on A Thousand Words starring opposite Eddie Murphy.

Prior to these films, Washington starred in Mr. and Mrs. Smith, starring Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie, Fantastic Four, directed by Tim Story and Ray, the inspirational life story of Ray Charles, opposite Jamie Foxx. Previous to Ray, she played the lead role opposite Anthony Mackie in Spike Lee's She Hate Me, as well as starred in Sidney Lumet's HBO film Strip Search and the independent film Sexual Life.

Other film credits for Washington include Against the Ropes, The United States of Leland, The Human Stain, Bad Company, Lift, Save the Last Dance, for which she received a Teen Choice Award for Best Breakout Performance, and the highly acclaimed independent film, Our Song.

During her free time, Washington is an active member on the Board of Directors for The Creative Coalition, a group dedicated to raising awareness of First Amendment Rights and support of arts in education. She is also a member of the V-Counsel, an esteemed group of advisors to V-Day, the global movement to end violence against women and girls (

JAY HERNANDEZ (Javier Villareal)

First emerged on the Hollywood scene opposite Kirsten Dunst in the 2001 film Crazy/Beautiful. Since then, Hernandez has starred in a number of films, including Disney's sleeper hit The Rookie, opposite Dennis Quaid; Joseph Kahn's Torque, with Ice Cube; Ladder 49, with Joaquin Phoenix and John Travolta; and Friday Night Lights, with Billy Bob Thornton. He was recently seen on the big screen in the acclaimed Oliver Stone 9/11 project, World Trade Center, and the indie mockumentary Live! with Eva Mendes.

Hernandez was born and raised in Montebello, California with his two older brothers and younger sister. Unlike many of his contemporaries, he didn't grow up with the dream of moving to Hollywood to become an actor. As clichéd as it sounds, at the age of 18, Hernandez was discovered in an elevator by a talent manage. In a short time, his career has blossomed exponentially; it has been only seven years since his first acting role on the popular Saturday-morning television show "Hang Time," where he began his career alongside Anthony Anderson (Hustle & Flow). Hernandez is now noted as one of the few Latino leading men in the entertainment industry and has had the honor of working with some of the most in-demand writers, directors, producers and actors of his time.

Hernandez starred in the disturbing psychological thriller Hostel, from writer/director Eli Roth and executive producer Quentin Tarantino. The film premiered at the 2005 Toronto Film Festival to rave reviews and opened #1 at the box office. He had a brief cameo appearance in the sequel, Hostel 2.

The actor has also made his mark on television in the acclaimed if short-lived ABC drama from J.J. Abrams, "Six Degrees."

Hernandez currently resides in Los Angeles.

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Lakeview Terrace Starring Samuel L. Jackson, Patrick Wilson, Kerry Washington, Jay Hernandez, Regine Nehy