Jackson’s bad cop role highlights LaBute’s newest thriller

What if the best police officer on the LAPD turns out to be a bad neighbor?
In Lakeview Terrace, Abel Turner (Samuel L. Jackson) is a respected LAPD officer who roams the streets with his partner (Jay Hernandez) to learn what the word on the street is according to his informant (Keith Loneker). While Turner is a respected individual on the force, he also commands respect from his kids. He even demands that his son wear a Shaquille O’ Neal jersey instead of a Kobe Bryant jersey.
Chris and Lisa Mattson (Patrick Wilson and Kerry Washington) are an interracial couple who move next door to Turner.
They become a target for Turner, who disapproves of their relationship. Determined to have the new neighbors move out quickly, Turner relies on annoying tactics such as security lights aimed at Chris and Lisa’s bedroom. When that fails to help carry out his mission, he uses scare tactics. Due to Turner’s constant harassment, the couple decides to fight fire with fire. Will cooler heads prevail or will this end in tragedy?
While the movie contains strong performances from Wilson and Washington as the terrified couple, the highlight is Samuel L. Jackson’s performance. When Jackson is present in any scene, he commands attention with his facial expressions and his unpredictably. When another character is doing something he or she is not supposed to, it will keep the audience on its toes because in this movie, you do not know what Jackson’s character is going to do next.
The screenplay is very revealing as soon as the movie begins. While race is one of the reasons for Turner’s disapproval of the couple’s relationship, the movie goes deeper and deeper into Turner’s psyche and ultimately reveals his reasons for doing what he does. The neighbor on a warpath theme is something that has been torn from the headlines, most recently where a man killed his neighbor over a strip of grass in Lauderdale Lakes.
Film director, screenwriter and playwright Neil LaBute does a great job in making a movie that contains dramatic themes set up like a thriller. In one amazing scene, LaBute uses his direction to frame Abel and Chris’ face during a showdown in a bar where Abel ultimately reveals his motivation.
Lakeview Terrace is a movie that contains a great villainous turn for Samuel L. Jackson.
LAKEVIEW TERRACE: 3 stars out of 5

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