In the 2008 film Lakeview Terrace, the gifted actor Samuel L. Jackson gives one of the best performances of his career. Samuel L. Jackson portrays Abel Turner, a Los Angeles Police Officer. Able patrols one of the most dangerous parts of the city but lives far away in a beautiful suburb. Able is a widower raising two teenage children. He is a loving but very tough father.
Then a young, mixed-race couple moves in next door to Samuel. They try very hard to get along with Able, but he is a difficult neighbor, to say the least. For one thing, he has bright security lights all around his home that shine all night long. When they ask him to readjust the one shining into their bedroom, Able always seems to politely find an excuse to put that chore off until a later date.
Able does not hide very well that he just doesn’t like the idea of mixed race couples. He gets along fine with people of all different races in the neighborhood, but he just does not seem to like the idea of a White man with an African-American woman.
Patrick Wilson plays Chris Mattson, the white neighbor. He tries every tactic he can to win over Able, but none of them seem to work. Kerry Washington plays his wife Lisa, who makes no secret of the fact that she thinks Able is too strict with his kids.
Then things start happening to the Mattsons. Their air conditioner is vandalized. Then someone breaks into the garage and slashes the car tires. Able lectures them that this is why he has security lights and an alarm system. He warns them not to think everything is safe just because they are in the suburbs. The Mattsons are convinced that Able himself is doing the damage, but there is no proof.
This is an exciting movie with a combination of mystery and racial tension. It reminds us that racism works in all directions. The mystery part of the movie is officer Able Turner himself. Is he a nasty, dangerous person? Or – is he just a single father who is overprotective of his home and children, due to fact that he sees so much violence in his day-to-day job as a police officer? As the movie progresses, you will find yourself changing your opinion of Able several times.
By the way, the name Lakeview Terrace also happens to be the name of the street where the Rodney King beating took place. This, of course, is the movie’s not so subtle way of reminding us that the factor of race always plays a part in relationships in the U.S.
We will not give away any more of the plot, and this is a movie worth watching. Samuel L. Jackson has been in a huge number of films, but this is one of his best.
We give this movie Four Stars ****