View Before Viewing: 'Lakeview Terrace'

Samuel L. Jackson in 'Lakeview Terrace'I guess I can consider myself lucky - I have never had too dreadful neighbors. This week I get to learn what that might be like from the thriller that is "Lakeview Terrace" where Samuel L. Jackson plays a single dad of two and LAPD officer, who terrorizes his new neighbors by ways of his police badge, putting his own ideals above the law.

Neighborly issues are as old as the ages, look back at the Ten Commandments and you find a few notes about how to treat thy neighbor. And what makes for even better drama then breaking the basic laws of Judeo-Christian religions? Bad cops, of course! "Lakeview Terrace" is chockfull of all these stimulating ingredients. So before heading out to catch some thrills you hope don’t follow you home from the theater, take a gander at these gripping tales of people who just can’t (or don’t want to) get along...

A TIME TO KILL (1996)

Samuel L. Jackson, man of a thousand movies, plays both sides of the terror siege in this ditty. In this thriller, based on John Grisham’s novel, Sam Jackson plays Carl Lee Haily whose daughter is raped by 2 Southern Rednecks. With disbelief in the system, Carl Lee takes matters into his own hands by killing both men in cold blood inside the court house as they are being walked to trial.

Jackson is flawless here as he both is a victim and the terrorizer. Race issues, good cops/bad cops, families scared out of their homes, "A Time To Kill" is just about the same movie as "Lakeview Terrace," but set in the south, and the villains do more than cut down the protagonist’s shrubbery.

REAR WINDOW (1954)

Here we have a classic neighbor-on-neighbor thriller that really drives home the point of: you don’t know who lives next door. This film by Alfred Hitchcock has Jimmy Stewart playing L.B. Jefferies who has an accident that puts him in a wheelchair and leaving him house ridden. In his household boredom he stares out his windows allowing his neighbors daily goings on to provide as entertainment. Only then does he find the secrets that make his neighbors not seem so neighborly.

If you need something a little more updated, try out "Disturbia" (2007). A re-envisioned version of "Rear Window," it’s plenty showier and the pop culture references are easier to grasp. Shia LaBeouf does hold his own in creating a great sense of fear and desperation too, but what it does miss is the Hitchcockian touch, the simplicity that makes the fear and dread palpable, and mostly the hopelessness of one neighbor pitted against another.

TRAINING DAY (2001)

Calling Alonzo Harris (Denzel Washington) a “Bad Cop” would be a slap on the wrists, he plays the morally corrupt Narcotics Officer who is in charge of training a newbie (Ethan Hawke). Here, the neighbor issue is mute, but relates closer to Lakeview Terrace in the ways of a LAPD making their own laws based on their own ideals. The roles in this are played so well that upon finishing the movie, one is easily scared to think this is too possible a reality for the police to interpret and bend laws depending on personal preference.

As the film climaxes to an end, those Ten Commandments come into question yet again as Alonzo’s delusions of grandeur blatantly supersede not only the law, but those whom he is sworn to serve and protect.