Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Film Review: One Eight Seven (1997)

One Eight Seven (Review)
United States/1997
Format Viewed For Review: HBO Now
Netflix Streaming: No
Amazon Prime: No

"...a very compelling and entertaining movie."

Fifteen months after surviving a brutal stabbing at school, teacher Trevor Garfield (Samuel L. Jackson) moves from New York to Los Angeles and finds himself facing the same problems...

One Eight Seven follows Trevor Garfield, a once-passionate teacher who finds himself working as an anxious substitute after he is stabbed by a vengeful student. At his new school, Trevor immediately runs into trouble with Benny and Cesar (Clifton Collins Jr.), gang members in his class. Particularly, after Benny goes missing, he finds himself bumping heads with Cesar. What starts as a 'friendly' rivalry quickly escalates as the pair one-up each other. For example, if Garfield humiliates Cesar, Cesar humiliates Garfield. The plot targets violence in schools, gang problems, and machoism. The plot is occasionally 'excessive,' but it gets the job done. It leads to a very strong ending.

One Eight Seven is a great film. On the surface, the plot is simple but effective. It's a teacher-vs-student scenario that catches the audience's attention from beginning to end. It's a tense thriller that targets sensitive subjects – we don't see many dramas/thrillers that focus on the youth nowadays, do we? The confrontations between Trevor and Cesar are intense and unnerving, especially when they begin to escalate. I suppose the one problem I have with this film is some of its more 'unbelievable' qualities. Yes, I know: it's a movie. However, the film is very effective when it stays grounded in reality. There are moments that are just unbelievable or a bit absurd. Other than, it is a powerful film.

Samuel L. Jackson delivers a very strong performance as the leading man. He delivers his dialogue with conviction. Yes, he is a little angry in this film, as usual, but it works for him. Clifton Collins Jr., who also stars in Triple 9, is also fantastic in this film. The supporting cast is strong, although some of the acting is a bit stiff. The music choice wasn't perfect, especially since this film released in the 90s (they could have done better), but it blends well with the film. The film was written by Scott Yagemann and directed by Kevin Reynolds. Aside from a few scenes that felt out of place, Yagemann crafts a compelling plot. Reynolds also creates an ominous atmosphere, slick and unnerving, while delivering scene-after-scene of pure tension.

Overall, One Eight Seven is a great movie. There are a few scenes that I did not enjoy – that pulled me out of the experience – but it is otherwise a very compelling and entertaining movie. The leading performances are superb and the plot has a lot to offer.

Score: 8/10
Parental Guide: Strong violence and blood, some nudity.

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