Sunday, December 21, 2014

"Eye for an Eye": drama from the 90s brings back the topic of citizen vigilantes


Vigilantism may be an current topic now, and the 1995 film “Eye for an Eye” (and maybe “tooth for a tooth”) by John Schlesinger, from Paramount, dramatizes the issue in workmanlike manner.
Sally Field plays Karen McCann, an middle-aged mom in Santa Monica, and is talking on the cell phone on a clunky 90s cell phone in LA traffic with her teen daughter, when a delivery man Robert Doob (Kiefer Sutherland) rapes and murders the child. 
  
The police (Joe Mantegna as Sgt. Denillo) catch him, but prosecutors blow it on a technicality (failure to present some crude DNA and sperm evidence to the defense) at a preliminary hearing.  Doob, who is quite creepy, walks free.
  
McCann stalks him, and see some harrowing behavior, like grooming of kids in a playground.  Nevertheless, police tell her not to follow him.  She joins a vigilante group and takes firearms and self-defense training, something that will please today’s 2nd Amendment supporters.  But the group is infiltrated by a female FBI agent who warns McCann that she could go to jail for life if she takes out Doob on her own.  The agent is interesting:  she is presented as an African American lesbian raising a biological son in a relationship with a white female.  In the meantime, police keep stumbling trying to get evidence on Doob.
  
McCann “solves her problem” by enticing Doob to come to her home to attack her, where she can shoot him down in self-defense in a bombastic conclusion.
  
Ed Harris plays the middle-aged husband, sympathetic but a bit oafish in this role.
  
The film is rather plodding, not as gripping as some other police films of the 90s, like David Fincher’s “Se7en”.
  
  

The film can be rented on YouTube for $2.99, and is available from Netflix.  

Picture: San Diego at night, University Blvd area, my trip in 2012 

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