Starring: Sally Field, Joe Mantegna, Ed Harris, Kiefer Sutherland, Beverly D’Angelo, Philip Baker Hall, Keith David
Director: John Schlesinger
Director, John Schlesinger, has been very quiet of late. He picked up an oscar for “Midnight Cowboy” (1969, best director) and had several nominations around that time. However, since his heyday, his movies have been thin on the ground. The seventies brought “Yanks” and “Marathon Man” , the eighties gave us “Believers” and 1990 saw him give us the average thriller “Pacific Heights” (Michael Keaton on top form). One could be forgiven for thinking that the end is nigh for this quality director…hold on.
“Eye for an Eye” is only the London-born directors fourth film of the nineties. Sally Field plays Karen McCann, a loving mother who is subjected to being an aural witness to the rape and murder of her teenage daughter. When Robert Doob (Sutherland) is charged for the murder and is then released on a technicality, Karen finds it hard to cope with the reality and starts to follow him, knowing he will do it again. Detective Dinillo (Mantegna) can do nothing to help her though and sure enough Doob kills again. She starts to grow apart from her husband (Harris) and is hellbent on achieving revenge for the injustice so much, that she gets involved with vigilantism.
While “Eye for an Eye” cannot be considered in the same breath as “Cape Fear” or “Seven”, there is enough tension and emotion on show to ensure a good 90 minutes will be had by all. The performances are very strong; Sutherland, very much an underrated actor excels in a limited role, Mantegna and Harris hang on to whatever they can admirably and Field is a potent enough actress to run the show.
Even though much of it is formulaic, Schlesinger uses his undoubted ability to keep things moving as fast and as tensely as possible. “Eye for an Eye” is a good title that can be recommended to most.
Starring: Jean Reno, Gary Oldman, Danny Aiello, Natalie Portman, Michael Badalucco
Director: Luc Besson
A lot was made of “Leon” when it was released a couple of years ago. An experienced and cold-hearted killer, Leon (Reno), takes an abused 12-year old under his wing when her family are murdered by corrupt cop, Stansfield (Oldman). The girl, Mathilda (Portman), is not greatly affected by the loss but is emotionally scarred by the ruthless murder of her innocent 4-year old brother. Leon reluctantly looks after Mathilda and through the film he finds himself becoming more and more attached to her. The 12-year old is determined to become a killer (or cleaner as it is referred to in the film) in order to wreak revenge on Oldman and his DEA crew.
“Leon” is a film that falls between two stools. It opens with Leon accepting a contract from Tony (Aiello) and carrying it out ruthlessly thus giving you a fair idea of his chatacter. The film then goes to rather obvious lengths to show the other side of this vicious man; a quiet, caring, misunderstood everyman. When he saves Mathilda’s life from the killers who have wiped out her family, he seems reluctantly happy to express his other side to someone else.
It’s hard to really understand the characters; their boundaries are rather unclear. Mathilda is a driven child who rather oddly wants to kill people for a living; Tony is Leon’s closest friend (and employer) but it is doubtfuil that he can really be trusted; Oldman is a dirty DEA cop, whose actions defy logic. Infact the whole basis of the killing of Mathilda’s family lacks logic; there is no way a cop could get away with blowing an entire family away. And the manpower he hires to take one man out has to be seen to be believed.
So is the film a thriller, a love story, a character analysis? I don’t really know. That’s not to say it’s a bad movie because it isn’t but there is just not enough happening for it to be a thriller, a rather uneven feel for a love story and too much confusion for a character analysis.