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187 (1997)

DVD Cover (Warner Brother)
Genres:
Drama, Psychological Drama, Urban Drama
Director:
Kevin Reynolds Kevin Reynolds
Starring:
Samuel L. Jackson Samuel L. Jackson
John Heard John Heard
Kelly Rowan Kelly Rowan
Clifton Collins Jr. Clifton Collins Jr.
Tony Plana Tony Plana

6.7 / 10 - Overall Rating

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Review by bluemeanie
Added: September 09, 2007
Why is that teachers are always conveyed as so inspirational and so tireless in their efforts to teach the youth of today, even when the youth of today would rather be fucking and fighting? Since the 1980's, there have been an onslaught of 'inspirational teacher' movies. In the 1980's, Edward James Olmos did "Stand & Deliver" and Morgan Freeman did "Lean On Me". In the 1990's, Michelle Pfieffer did "Dangerous Minds" and recently Hilary Swank tried her hand with "Freedom Writers". They are all, basically, the same film, with different leads. They're all about the inspirational teacher who has unorthodox ways of enlightening his/her students. However, in 1997, writer Scott Yagemann and director Kevin Reynolds gave us the ultimate 'anti-inspirational' teacher film. "187" is a film that has more realism in its violence because it conveys a frustrated teacher at the end of his rope.

After surviving a brutal attack at the hands of a disgruntled student, Trevor Garfield (Samuel L. Jackson) moves from New York City to Los Angeles to teach at a tough inner city school, where the officials are afraid of law suits and let the kids get away with pretty much anything and everything. John Heard stars as Dave Childress, the gun happy teacher who hates all of the kids and even has sexual relationships with some. Kelly Rowan is the teacher who befriends Garfield and tries to help him fit in. Almost immediately, Garfield comes under the eyes of Cesar Sanchez (Clifton Collins, Jr.) who makes it his personal mission to take Garfield down. However, when members of Sanchez' gang start turning up dead, a mystery begins as everyone tries to figure out who is killing these kids and why. "187" turns the 'inspirational teacher' genre on its head and then spins it around a while.

What makes this film work so well is its believability, and that comes from the performances. Samuel L. Jackson delivers one of his best performances as a once devoted educator who has seen the worst of what his job has to offer and can do nothing about it except retaliate. He is a man who has gone from wanting to enlighten his students to not really caring whether they live or die, other than to inspire occasional hope in the ones you will give him the slightest hint of recognition. John Heard is equally credible and scary as the teacher who would not care if all the little bastards were swept away. He has a violent and sadistic streak and wants to exercise it. And, Clifton Collins, Jr. is perfect as the student who drives his teacher over the edge -- he does everything he needs to in order to make Jackson's descent into the dark more believable and more frightening.

My favorite scene in the film is between Jackson and Heard, when Heard has taken Jackson down into his basement to show him his gun collection, and then starts pretending to aim the gun at students and give them what he thinks they deserve. This scene goes to show you how amazing a character actor John Heard continues to be. Another wonderful scene is the ending, which has taken on a stigma and has been mimicked a couple of times, most notably in the slapstick "High School High". The scene involves Jackson, a gang of students, and a game of Russian Roulette. It's the perfect ending to this film, and it just seems like the natural progression for Jackson's character, as well as all the others. "187" works so well because it shows us some of the darker sides of the educational system, and shows us that everything in our schools is not so rosy and sentimental. Sometimes it's violent, sometimes it's nasty and sometimes it's deadly.

9/10.
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QuietMan #1: QuietMan - added 09/11/2007, 10:13 AM
I haven't seen this since i was about 10 or something and the end of this movie is still vivid in my head. great movie 8/10
grain of sand #2: grain of sand - added 09/11/2007, 07:59 PM
love this one
Crispy #3: Crispy - added 09/14/2007, 08:13 PM
What was the one with the mexicans and the calculus teacher? I liked that one
Lucid Dreams #4: Lucid Dreams - added 11/22/2010, 03:23 AM
Screwed up from start to finish 8/10
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