As expected, the strong cast in this movie delivers with great performances, but there are also great moments in cinematography and the mood is well created by music from Massive Attack. There are moments the film feels like "Falling Down" with Michael Douglas, although its much better. The pace is good, and the ending is satisfying. But the great thing about this film is the overwhelming helplessness that you begin to feel along with Garfield. He attempts many tried and true methods, especially used in past school films, to reach out to his students only to find depressing, negative results. He never really reaches or helps anyone, and there is no satisfying feeling, even when he exacts his "eye for an eye" revenge. Thats the greatness of this film, and why the four stars. Because it is simply "real" in it's story... as it searches for meaning, without all the answers.
One Eight Seven
Time Out saysBrooklyn. Teacher Trevor Garfield (Jackson) finds '187' scrawled across his notebook - the California penal code number for homicide. It's a death threat from (he thinks) a pupil he's just failed, but the principal won't take heed. Garfield's stabbed by an unseen assailant in the school corridor. A year later and physically healed, he takes a job in South Central LA, with fellow teachers Rowan and Heard. It's another rundown institution. Goaded by another macho homeboy, Cesar (Gonzalez), Garfield decides to play it Cesar's way. Thus far, that Hollywood rarity: an intelligent issue film with a social conscience and a sense of dramatic control. Echoing the trip-hoppy soundtrack, the visuals owe too much to pop video, yet exercise a certain pull. Jackson bears the weight of the film in a constrained, introverted role (terrorised, pertinacious, innocent passion squandered), but a grand resolution and some melodramatic twists and set-pieces undercut the hard-nosed tone.