The plot: “Several stories interweave during two days in Los Angeles involving a collection of inter-related characters, a police detective with a drugged out mother and a thieving younger brother, two car thieves who are constantly theorizing on society and race, the white district attorney and his irritated and pampered wife, a racist white veteran cop (caring for a sick father at home) who disgusts his more idealistic younger partner, a successful Hollywood director and his wife who must deal with the racist cop, a Persian-immigrant father who buys a gun to protect his shop, a Hispanic locksmith and his young daughter who is afraid of bullets, and more.” martinlewison at IMDB.com
My thoughts: For the awards that it won and for how much people wouldn’t shut up about it, I really expected a phenomenal movie. All I heard was that it had so much meaning and such strong characters. And while the acting was quality throughout (I actually really loved Ludacris – I think he’s a pretty good actor), and some of the characters’ stories were interesting, I had one major complaint: the movie sure said a lot without really saying anything at all.
What I took away from the movie is that racial tensions are high in America (the world, to be honest) and that a lot of bad things come from being racist. As if we didn’t know this. There was no real ending to this movie and it’s message was so vague and open that I felt completely unfulfilled. Was I just supposed to understand that being racist is a bad thing? That we should learn to look past skin color and what country others come from? Because that’s all that I took away from the movie and I didn’t think it was an especially novel concept. A lot of movies deal with the same issue and do so in a more compelling way (American History X is just one example.)
Haggis spends so much time focusing on telling us that racism is bad, that he neglects to focus on gender roles, age, or social ranks. Jessie Daniels brings up a really good point regarding the women in the film. After Thandie Newton’s character is fondled by a white cop (played by Dillon), she is then involved in a car crash and he saves her. Daniels writes “her oppressor has now become her hero. After this “crash” we never see her character again to explore what the ramifications of this experience were for her, and she fades into the two-dimensional background of the story.”
I didn’t take away anything new from this movie. I can understand what Haggis was trying to do – he was trying to show us how racial tensions can impact people and ultimately, the roles we play in one another’s lives. For me, it was much too simplistic and obvious.
Also, the score was horribly annoying.