When Trevor first goes back to Ellen's house after their first date, he pets her dog Jack. Jack stares continuously past Trevor; its obvious he is staring at the trainer who is coaching him. See more »
Alright, let's go people, let's go. One minute until tardy lock-down... take your hat off, thank you... let's go, let's go. Everybody move inside, move inside... morning Trevor, good morning. Let's go, get inside... let her go! No smoking - I don't smoke, you don't smoke. Let's go people, today's a *good* day to learn.
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This movie offers good insight into the culture of violence that is prevalent in cities like Los Angeles, especially its eastern part. Samuel Jackson plays a teacher who survived a brutal stabbing in a NY school and moves to L.A. in order to start again in a new place, trying to get away from the traumatic memories connected to his old working place. But it turns out to be just the beginning of a new nightmare for him: he gets the worst class imaginable, where some of the students are real thugs and hoodlums. The worst of them are Benny Chacon (played by an unknown actor) and Cesar Sanchez, played by Clifton Collins Jr in one of his first major roles. After Chacon kills a graffiti artist for spoiling one of his "masterpieces", he goes on the run and is later found dead. Garfield (Jackson) is left to deal with Sanchez, who proves to be enough for him to handle.
This shows how violence, psychological violence itself, can make a non-violent individual get more violent and retort to violence in order to solve a problem. Jackson's Trevor Garfield is a traumatised veteran who gets pushed too far by the school bullies and starts bullying back, in his own way. At the same time, this film also lays the blame on the school itself, its principal's tolerance for the bullies' antics and lack of understanding or sympathy for Garfield's plight clearly underscores that. The gangbangers get their way more often than not and Garfield has to fight a lone battle, one which also changes his personality.
It is a pretty strong film which has a sort of sleepy film-noir quality, reminiscent of some older films. Samuel Jackson makes a very good performance, same as Collins Jr and the beautiful Kelly Rowan and John Heard make good supporting performances. Rowan's character seems to be the only one which is "clean" in all this mess. Her role is that of a moral guardian who questions Jackson's actions when he retaliates against the bullies. Other characters are all pretty much despicable, except for Rita, who is just a victim of her own environment. This is the gangland, where only law is the law of the strongest and the most intimidating. It shows how hard it is to fight against this law.
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