Lakeview Terrace

by | Jan 29th, 2009 | 8:00AM | Filed under: DVD Reviews

Lakeview Terrace
, starring Patrick Wilson and Kerry Washington as a young couple who move in next door to Samuel L. Jackson's older, lonely L.A.P.D. patrolman, looks like a fairly generic thriller — a revamp of the Kurt Russell-Ray Liotta 1992 thriller Unlawful Entry, where Liotta's psycho-cop gets obsessed with Russell and wife Madeline Stowe. Cop, neighbor, bad, good, yawn, stretch; been there, done that.

Except, as you watch Lakeview Terrace, you realize that there's something much more interesting than just good neighbor-bad cop going on in the film; watching Wilson and Washingon, you realize that this seemingly trivial thriller is actually willing to talk about interracial marriage and the challenges of marriage, about money, about power — all while delivering real suspense and scary jolts. Watching Jackson, you realize that he's not just turning in another of his slack shouting-and-swearing performances but delivering a real, fine performance. Director Neil LaBute (who previously made knockout dramas like In the Company of Men and The Shape of Things) seemed like an unusual choice for a movie as seemingly ordinary as Lakeview Terrace … until you watch it and realize it's anything but ordinary.

Chris Mattson (Wilson) and his wife Lisa (Washington) have just moved to the L.A. area, onto a quiet cul-de-sac far from the city; their next-door neighbor, Abel Turner (Jackson), is a father and beat cop with the L.A.P.D. Abel is set in his ways — he doesn't like his kid's iPods and double-checks what his daughter's wearing before she leaves for school; Chris and Lisa bother him. Is it because Chris is white and Lisa's black? Is it because they're both happy in their marriage, while he's alone? Because they're young and he's old? Because Chris can swoop in with his job at an organic grocery store chain and buy a house next door to the house Abel's worked all his life, his life on the line, to have?

It's all of those things, and it's none of them. And that's one of the pleasures of LaBute's direction, and his take on the script; there aren't any big speeches in Lakeview Terrace, just talking; there aren't any good guys or bad guys, just people. And let's be honest — most American movies never talk about race, or sex, or age, or class; Lakeview Terrace is brave, or crazy, or both, to take on all of them without descending into speeches or simplicity.

Fortunately, the cast is up to the challenge. Wilson plays a guy trapped between youth and manhood and not sure of how to make it from one to the other, a little weak, a little wrong. Washington brings a real, messy marriage to life through her work opposite Wilson; watching the film on DVD for a second time (and listening to the commentary track she delivers opposite LaBute), I had a much greater appreciation for her work . And Jackson delivers the kind of performance he used to — back before recent films like Snakes on a Plane and The Spirit where he's showered with money for shouting and swearing and being the public cartoon of himself. Abel's a man — proud, set in his ways, unwilling to accept the world's moving by, wishing there were something more. Abel does bad things in Lakeview Terrace, and so does Chris. And they have their reasons, just like we do.

Lakeview Terrace has to curve towards the predictable in its finale — you know how the film has to end, where these characters are headed. But it's how they get there — and why they get there — that really matters. LaBute and his crew capture the everyday creepiness of suburbia, California and L.A. — the glaring sunlight, the spooky quiet at night, the constant presence of beauty and the constant possibility of disaster — but they also make it somewhere you'd want to live and a life you'd want to protect, too. Lakeview Terrace looks like a standard, disposable, off-the-rack thriller — the DVD box art has a man with a gun and scared-looking couple, like a thousand other films — but this is one of those rare, remarkable times when you don't want to judge a film by its cover.

25 Responses to “Lakeview Terrace

  1. John
    Posted on February 10, 2009 at 11:44 am

    The Movie wasn’t bad however I don’t necessarily agree with the message. They made Samual Jackson out to be mentally deranged, demented and insane. Ok, maybe the guy had a problem with White guys being with black girls due to his wife cheating but if you add being a father to two kids without a mom and being a LA cop, you’re bound to have a few problems. However, lets not negate he was raising his two kids up with decent morals in a beautiful home. Lets face it, the morals of today deteriorated.

  2. mia
    Posted on February 10, 2009 at 11:48 am

    Loved it, great movie

  3. Ramandus
    Posted on February 10, 2009 at 1:24 pm

    I didn’t really like this movie, the acting was bad. Samuel L. Jackson always seems to play the same character in all his movies, he doesn’t display a good range. He’s always angry, and always pointing a gun at someone.
    The actors who portray the interracial couple are forgettable.

  4. Heather
    Posted on February 10, 2009 at 1:26 pm

    was an okay movie 3* out of 5

  5. hcaaas
    Posted on February 10, 2009 at 2:10 pm

    I loved this movie. I saw it in theaters and had to rent it when it came out and watch it again. It’s always refreshing to see blacks portrayed on film as something other than the stereotypical ghetto crack whores that we are made out to be. Ok, so a deranged cop and yuppie rich girl weren’t excellent portrayals, but at least they were more realistic. I related to the mixed race couple and the crazy single father and was amply entertained. I give it four stars for wit and no over-exaggerated action scenes starring Tom Cruise. I’d watch it again.

  6. Christina
    Posted on February 10, 2009 at 2:49 pm

    Disappointing…not as good as I thought it would be.

    Posted on February 10, 2009 at 2:56 pm

    the movie was very average

  8. Brooke
    Posted on February 10, 2009 at 3:02 pm

    I actually loved the movie…it made Samuel Jackson seem a little out of his norm, but he did a GREAT job…I give it a 7…GREAT MOVIE

  9. Rachel & Mark
    Posted on February 10, 2009 at 3:21 pm

    It was a pretty decent movie but not as good as the previews made it out to be…We waited months for this to come out on DVD and we were very disappointed!!!

  10. Jason
    Posted on February 10, 2009 at 3:56 pm

    I’m a little worried about seeing this. Sounds stressful to watch. I feel the stress and suspense a little too much during these kinds of movies.

  11. eli
    Posted on February 10, 2009 at 3:56 pm

    I was disappointed in this movie, I like Samuel L. Jackson, but this was such a racial movie ,it was hard to watch.

  12. Jeff
    Posted on February 10, 2009 at 4:08 pm

    Thinking it was the same old storyline: Interracial Yuppie Couple move into upper middle-class neighborhood, Bad-ass Black LAPD Cop neighbor whose wife cheated on him with a white guy, rebellious teenage daughter, the cops and their “code,” etc. But, I was surprised and actually enjoyed the movie! Though the plot formula was somewhat generic, there were a couple twists that earn it a “B-” grade! [POSSIBLE SPOILER] Not every day do you see the bad cop get what’s coming to him!

  13. Jim
    Posted on February 10, 2009 at 4:13 pm

    Disappointed by the movie. It gave me a bad feeling at the end. [POSSIBLE SPOILER] Ok sue me I would have preferred it if somehow Jackson overcomes his issues and winds up the hero.

  14. Jim
    Posted on February 10, 2009 at 4:15 pm

    An example of what this movie could have been was the critically acclaimed “Crash” where a racist cop overcomes his prejudice and redeems himself in the end.

  15. M
    Posted on February 10, 2009 at 4:20 pm

    Not a fan. Thought it dragged on.
    I thought there were parts that could have been deleted from the movie.
    I wouldnt see it again.

  16. Keith
    Posted on February 10, 2009 at 4:30 pm

    The movie was ok, but I had three problems with the title Lakeview Terrace. First they should have called it Pacific Height II – This Time it’s Racial, because it’s the same movie with an ethnic twist. Second if you are going to call the movie Lakeview Terrace then it should take place on Lakeview Terrace. The only two times the street name is mentioned in the film (once when the husband is talking to the fire department and when the Jackson is calling 911) both of the main characters called the street Lakeview Circle not Terrace. Third the street is nowhere near a lake, they keep mentioning it being next to a ravine. Most of the time when a street is named Lakeview it is near a lake or at least in sight of one.

  17. Chris
    Posted on February 10, 2009 at 6:11 pm

    I thought the movie had nothing to offer. When I can predict what is going to take place, there is no reason for me to watch it. And when my predictions of the ending are better than what was actually in the movie, I pretty much want my money back.

  18. Vidal
    Posted on February 10, 2009 at 7:01 pm

    I think a good thriller should have a edge of your
    seat, have you guessing type of ending. When you believe one thing is going to happen at the end and then pow! something else happens.
    Overall Lakeview Terrace is a decent movie.
    With a predictable, generic, run of the mill ending.
    Still worth the dollar rental fee in my book!

  19. charla
    Posted on February 10, 2009 at 9:33 pm

    I went to the theatres to see this movie and would not waste another dollar on it now. I personally thought it was one of the slowest movies ever. It was really hard to sit through. I think that they could of put a little more effort into the plot and the acting.

  20. Penny
    Posted on February 10, 2009 at 9:54 pm

    Didn’t like the fact that Samuel L. Jackson was such a racial person in this movie, there’s nothing wrong with whites and blacks being together. My husband is black and I’m white and that just made it look bad that he played that part. But besides that I liked the movie.

  21. Bee
    Posted on February 11, 2009 at 12:35 am

    Those who didn’t like the movie.I say go to hell. It was a good movie

  22. BigD
    Posted on February 11, 2009 at 8:01 am

    Too long, boring, dragged out. The only part of the movie worth watching is the last five minutes and you can watch that in the preview. Don’t waste your time with this one.

  23. Vanessa
    Posted on February 11, 2009 at 8:54 am

    This movie was not as great as the trailer made it seem I thought there was going to be more action and suspense. I wouldn’t recommend this movie to anyone.

  24. Tiffany
    Posted on February 11, 2009 at 3:35 pm

    Well, I am looking forward to seeing this movie, having an objective outlook from every one’s opinion. I like the idea that the roles are reversed and this time an angry racist black guy gets to terrorize and wreak havoc on the poor unsuspecting interracial The level of hatred that Samuel has sounds very intense, just like in the real world where people hate one another or think they are superior because of the shade of their skin. People who cannot stomach the prejudice have not been exposed to it or live in denial.

  25. Cyndi B
    Posted on February 18, 2009 at 7:20 am

    I was let down! From the previews I was really expecting a BANG… so what do I do? BUY the movie without seeing it. Chances are it had to be good… right? NOT! This one was poorly put together and way too simple. And please let me know again why it’s called Lakeview Terrace?