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Samuel L. Jackson is superb in this hard look at the pressure that American Teachers can face. The story begins simply enough, but soon leads us into a jungle of what is right and what is wrong. It encompasses the themes of machismo, gangs, respect and the fallen and tainted profession of teaching. Jackson plays the destroyed Teacher, whose life is torn apart after a serious stabbing by one of his own pupils. It follows his fight to cling on to the only thing he has left in his life, Teaching, but soon that too is torn away from him. Watch for this amazing insight into the state of some American schools and for the complex discussions of right, wrong and what it takes to exact a change.
Kevin Reynolds, the director of "One Eighty Seven", a film written by
Scott Yagermann, supposedly a teacher himself, shows he is a man that
clearly understands today's problems in the inner city schools.
Some of the children, of mostly immigrant parents, are lured to join gangs in order to survive the hostile environment. These are the same children who could benefit from the free education in their new adopted country. Instead of making something out of themselves, they create their own problems and will end up doing menial work, or in jail because of the choices they make.
This is the basic premise to this story, in which, a decent man and an excellent teacher, is stabbed at the beginning of the film, and not only is his body injured, but also his spirit. The relocation from Brooklyn to L.A. proves to be the wrong move. If Trevor Garfield thought he had it bad in New York, he is not prepared for a school system in California that seems to be a disgrace.
This particular school, where Trevor is hired as a substitute teacher, has some of the most dangerous teen agers of the city. It appears that kids have the upper hand in whatever is going on because its principal is more interested in avoiding being sued by the students than in educating them. In fact, they rule the school. The worst thing that comes out in the film is how Cesar, a teen ager, who is a bully and a criminal, can't even read! There are a few other aspects the film is trying to explore. Teachers who are corrupt, like is the case with Dave Childress, who admits to having had sex with one of the students. The young woman who is being helped by Mr. Garfield turns against him, only to redeem herself at the end, after it's too late for her to recognize a valuable lesson Trevor taught her.
Samuel L. Jackson gives an intense performance portraying Trevor Garfield. Mr. Jackson shows in the film another dimension to his method of acting. He is never boring. John Heard is the corrupt Dave. Kelly Rowan is Ellen, a teacher who judges her fellow teacher and is repulsed by what she finds out. Clifton Collins is good as Cesar, the ignorant young man, a product of the gang mentality. Karina Arroyoave is seen as Rita.
"One Eighty Seven" is an eye opener about why some students aren't learning in school and a tribute to the teachers that are trying to educate them in spite of the horrors in the classroom.
Kevin Reynolds' 187, although billed as another "straight-laced-teacher-turns-troubled-urban-highschool-teens-into-well-rounded-individuals"
movie, goes above and beyond this tired premise. The provocative story
(which was apparently written by an actual highschool teacher) breathes new
life into the otherwise stale highschool-drama subgenre.
Samuel L. Jackson's performance as Trevor Garfield is fantastic, and his many emotional scenes and powerfully delivered lines of dialogue work well at allowing the audience to sympathize with the disenchanted Garfield and relate to his humdrum life. Also, the characters are much more dynamic and developed here than in most movies of this kind. The student as well as the faculty roles are all given unique personalities, backgrounds, and adequate motivation for their actions, which is a refreshing departure from the typical "the reason they're bad kids is because they grew up in the 'hood"-style characterizations.
Although a few of the supporting performances are somewhat stilted (mainly because they are overshadowed by Jackson's excellence), the highly original story is clever enough keep anyone's interest piqued until the heartrending (although arguably contrived) ending. 187, aside from being smart, touching, and one-of-a-kind, really shows off Reynolds' ability to successfully convert a good, solid screenplay into a good, solid film. And since this movie was made directly after his abominable WATER WORLD, we should all by doubly impressed by his efforts!
Violence in schools is the subject of this bleak, hard-hitting, drama, starring the always reliable Samuel L. Jackson in another great performance who plays a teacher who moves from a tough Brooklyn school after being stabbed repeatedly by a student in the back to an even tougher LA school. 187 is a vastly underrated thriller, intense and gripping throughout, and the ending is powerful and satisfying. 8.5/10.
Samuel L. Jackson is not only one of the coolest guys alive, he´s also a great character actor what this film shows very impressively. I don´t know how bad the circumstances at some American schools really are, but I think "187" is much more realistic than liars like "Dangerous Minds". Kevin Reynolds also did a great job as director. In the whole film there are no spectacular things happening, but it is suspense-packed and dramatic from beginning till the end. Also the photography and the score are excellent, because they reflect the depressive and hopeless situation perfectly. The "Deer Hunter"-like showdown and the desperate speech of Rita at the end will keep you sitting on the chair, left deep impressed and considering, while the whole film is already over for a long time. (9/10)
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Okay, I just finished watching One Eight Seven.
A great film -- I went into it expecting a fluffy action flick, and got the wind knocked out of me.
I read the remarks above and was struck by the notable lack of comments about one of the defining qualities of this film -- it is a modern, Hollywood treatment of an old, old story-- A story that was already ancient when it was packaged a couple millennia ago as the "New Testament."
(Uh, I guess I should mention that some spoilers will follow, although I doubt that any significant details that folks won't see coming themselves will be given up.)
This is the story of a Good Teacher who is moved by compassion to sacrifice his own life in order to demonstrate the folly and absurdity of man's inhumanity to man.
This story has been told and retold again and again, with varying degrees of success. (The Green Mile is at one end of the spectrum, and Cool Hand Luke is at the other. "Which end is up" is, I suppose, a subjective thing.)
What makes this a good movie is it's subtlety and ambiguity.
Okay, it's not always -that- subtle. The introductions were a bit of a groaner--
Childress: Roosevelt high? Isn't that where that teacher got stabbed to death? Garfield: Actually, he survived. Childress: No, there was this gang-banger, had a ten-penny nail, he stabbed him about a dozen times in a hallway, and.... (LONG PAUSE) ...you're him. Jesus Christ. You're him. It was you.
But at least his initials weren't J.C. Giving him the surname of an assassinated president is a little more elegant, although points come off for finding it necessary to reinforce the synchronicity of it by having him glance up at the list of "AMERICAN <dead> PRESIDENTS" when he realizes he's accidently walked into Childress's American History class.
One thing's for sure, Samuel L. Jackson sure knows how to "Give to Cezar what is Cezar's." (Not a misspelling of Caesar -- Cezar is the name of a "Severely Emotionally Disturbed" student.)
A great screenplay, brilliantly photographed, excellent sound design.
The ambiguity of Garfield's moral character is interesting to me-- He is never *shown* to do anything wrong, (with the exception of yelling at someone in a road-rage incident,) but there are some *implications* of wrongful behaviour. (Don't wanna give anything away, so I'm treading carefully.) Even these *implied* actions are ambiguous-- Do the circumstances justify them? The writer clearly wants us to think about it. Hard.
I saw this film a bunch of times years ago, back when I bought it. I liked it a lot. Now I am older and I'm working as a "sub", just like Mr. G. So I came to think of this film again, and now I've just finished watching it again. It is excellent. Even though conditions are not _that_ extreme here in Denmark, there are still a lot of similarities, and I feel with Mr. G. I'm a little bit closer to understanding what is going on in his head. I think this film does an excellent job in portraying its characters. The conflict and the subject of teacher/student relationship are brilliantly described. Furthermore, all of the actors, and Samuel L. Jackson in particular, are doing great jobs. What I also notice watching it again is the absolutely beautiful camera-technical and lighting effects.
I actually stumbled across this movie on premium cable. At first I was only mildly interested in watching it. But before I knew it, I couldn't take my eyes off the screen. It is unusual for me not to figure out the "punchline" to a movie very early on, but this movie didn't allow my mind to even go there. I was very pleasantly surprised by this movie and would recommend it to anyone.
After a vicious assault on him, Trevor Garfield, a teacher, moves cities and works as a temp. However, he finds that things are even worse at his new school. Dealing with an important subject, this is immensely engaging and tense. While not based on any specific case, this was written by an actual teacher, and, frankly, it does feel terrifyingly authentic and realistic. The psychology is completely accurate, and this is not black and white. This is well-paced, and never boring. The plot is compelling throughout, and though you can figure some things out before they occur, this most likely *will* surprise you. Every acting performance is spot-on, and all roles are marvelously cast. Jackson is impeccable, and his particular knack for playing someone who holds anger and may lose control at any moment is excellent for this. This has a great soundtrack, with music that fits the environment(which is very nicely established; they found perfect locations and types of people), without making it appealing. The editing and cinematography are incredible, if dangerously close to being flashy. There is a bit of brutal, bloody violence, a lot of disturbing content, moderately frequent strong language and brief nudity in this. I recommend this to anyone mature enough to handle it. 7/10
This great movie makes us thinking how to manage school problems and violence in the family or in our society. A very realistic film well packed as a thriller and with excellent actors . Why didn´t won Samuel Jackson the Oscar for his top performance? I was not bored from the start to the end. There were many plots and I recommend this film to everybody. I saw it already twice so don't miss it. I gave 8/10.
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