The film begins with a young couple, the husband is a successful white male and the wife is a beautiful young black woman. They are sweet, in love and obviously close friends. Having moved to an affluent neighborhood in Los Angeles they expected to start a family, eventually, and to decorate their very large and glamorous upper-middle class home. In all of their plans they forgot to factor in the insanity and instability of their new neighbor, Officer Samuel Jackson. Jackson is frightening looking in certain lighting and channels the energy of a truly insane psycho-killer. If he develops an anger management problem in real life we all need to feel afraid. Rather than further spoiling the twists and turns of the action, even though very little of it is suspenseful or unpredictable, I will spend the next paragraph diagnosing and assessing the racial implications of this film.
We do not live in a post-racial society, there is no such thing. However, Whites and Blacks actually have an advantage since they have been working out their problems for a longer time than most of the other ethnicities in America. Every nation or ethnicity feels some trepidation at the thought of introducing diversity into their family. Take the election of 2008 for example. It may well be defined in terms of race. McCain is a superior and better equipped candidate, yet Obama is arguably a more youthful and brash and exciting candidate. Each have their respective strengths but polls show that 90% of African Americans will automatically vote for Obama and that 25% of whites will not vote for him solely on the premise of race. Who is 50% more racist? Ok, not that simple, I agree. The truth is we all look out for ourselves, that is the purpose of DEMOCRACY! Welfare states fail, taxes become unbearable, we may be created equal but our test scores and incomes are not all equal. If they were, this would be a communist nation and we the citizens would be clones. For the record true communism has never been practiced, only a dictatorial semblance of communism. This leaves us asking the question and often using it as an excuse for our own ethnic self advancement: Is America racist? Which America? Black America? White America? Hispanic America? What is racism, and is it different in every case?
It is unclear if this movie is little more than an exercise in racial trash talking, or if it is a serious film about social issues, kind of like Crash, but what is clear is Samuel L. Jackson’s presence around much of these social debates. Is this deliberate typecasting, or something random that merely culminates in typecasting? We will find out after one of the busiest actors ever churns out many more interesting films. If ever there were one word only to describe him, it is by far and away: INTERESTING.
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