Eye For An Eye

on January 12, 1996 by Pat Kramer
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   Despite a great storyline (being based on the novel of the same name by Erika Holzer), this contemporary suspense/ drama about a mother-turned-vigilante is just too predictable. Two-time Oscar winner Sally Fields stars as Karen McCann, an L.A. businesswoman and the mother of two who loses her teenage daughter to a rape and murder. Ed Harris ("Apollo 13") plays her rock-steady husband Mack; Joe Mantegna ("The Usual Suspects") portrays Detective Denillo. When police arrest transient deliveryman Robert Doob ("A Few Good Men's" Kiefer Sutherland) but he escapes prosecution due to a loophole in the legal system, Karen vows she will get justice. So begins the true story that pits a city housewife overcome with rage against a violent career criminal.
   With such riveting material, this film should have succeeded on its own merit. Directed by the award-winning John Schlesinger ("The Innocent"), the film grimly portrays the effects that violence has on its victims when justice is not served. However, in dramatizing the plot, the filmmakers so obviously stack the deck against McCann (via a combination of botched legal representation, ineffectual police and the sheer loathsomeness of the attacker) that her character never builds character strength. In addition, Field's portrayal of victim McCann is a bit too superficial and simply too perky to establish any real emotion. Mercifully, the scenes of violence are also kept to a minimum, sparing the viewer additional emotional turmoil.
   In the end, the filmmakers go too far overboard in trying to vindicate Field's character. In doing so, they remove the true grit of the film and replace this life-blood with a Hollywood version of what happens when the criminal justice system does not prevail.    Starring Sally Field, Kiefer Sutherland and Ed Harris. Directed by John Schlesinger. Written by Amanda Silver and Rick Jaffa. Produced by Michael I. Levy. A Paramount release. Suspense/ drama. Rated R for language and disturbing violence that includes rape. Running time: 100 min.
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