187 Review

After surviving a brutal attack (Instrument used was a board with nails in it) by a student, teacher Trevor Garfield (Jackson) moves from New York to Los Angeles.

by Angie Errigo |
Published on

This story of a high school teacher, his students, and the shocking state of the American public school system follows the course you would least expect. The clue that you're entering darker waters is the title (the police code for homicide, adopted by gangs as a threat and a promise).

Trevor Garfield (Jackson), a science teacher who got out of a Brooklyn hell school barely alive after a horrific stabbing, has relocated to California, only to find his new class just as insolent, brutish and menacing as his attacker.

There are few light moments in the harrowing drama. Trevor does devise fun endeavours to interest his pupils, does get friendly with the gentle blonde (Rowan) and does, of course, find one poor nymphet who wants to learn. But this is about unrewarded heroism. And eventually Trevor resolves on a startling course of action that can hardly be described as redeeming, uplifting or even sane.

The principal asset is Jackson's devastating performance as a man who lived to give but has had his ideals and dedication ripped out of him. In support, the youths in the cast are formidably vicious, the elder survivors of the system credibly indifferent. But the awfulness is overwrought, with former teacher Scott Yagemann's screenplay and Kevin Reynolds' unnecessarily flashy directorial touches going too far into Robin In The Hood: Prince Of Psychos.

In a nation where, we are told, one in nine teachers has been attacked at school by students, it might have been a nice idea to at least hint at how this has come about.
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