Site created 12/15/97.
review added: 3/21/00
1999 (2000) - Warner Bros.
review by Todd Doogan of
The Digital Bits
Disc Ratings (Video/Audio/Extras): A/B+/B
Specs and Features
119 mins, R, letterboxed widescreen (1.85:1) on side A, 16x9
enhanced, full frame (1.33:1) on side B, dual-sided, single-layered,
Snapper case packaging, theatrical trailer, audio commentary (with
director Kevin Reynolds, writer Scott Yagemann and stars Samuel L.
Jackson and Clifton Gonzalez Gonzalez), film-themed menu screens,
scene access (32 chapters), languages: English (DD 5.1) and French
(DD 2.0), subtitles: English and French, Closed Captioned
"The only thing
you respect is stupidity. You willing to die for stupidity, Cesar?
You see, I am, if it'll teach you something."
Samuel L. Jackson plays Trevor Garfield, a idealistic New York City
school teacher who, in one horrifying moment, has everything he
holds dear to him - his health, his ideals and his compassion -
ripped right out of him by a student. What's a man to do when his
life is so dramatically changed without his consent? Apparently
learn from it and change into something else completely different --
in other words, adapt. Jump forward to sunny LA. The streets have
different names, but the jungle is the same - and Trevor is back in
the school system doing what he loves. When a new group of bad eggs
threaten Trevor's status quo, he isn't planning on standing idly by
waiting for them to do it. But will he have to do anything about it?
When the leader of a savage crew of kids turns up dead, it seems
Trevor has his work cut out for him. Or does he?
187 is a very dark morality
tale. At the time of its release, it looked like the farthest thing
from the truth we could ever get when it came to the American school
system. Now, it's almost too light in its attitude. Jackson is
really great here. This is one of his best characters, and he gets
so into the man's head, that it's like you're not watching Sam act
anymore. He's channeling. Even all the secondary characters are well
represented. This is not some comic book vision... this could be the
truth. A truth none of us want to see.
In terms of the story, I don't know if anyone can really say they "like"
this film - how can they? It's disgusting, brutal and haunting. But
it's also one of the most honest films I've ever seen. I admire this
film, and I'm glad it's on DVD where it belongs.
The DVD is quite the little gem in and of itself. The colors of
this transfer are incredibly deep and rich. The opening scenes in
New York are colored an ethereal blue and the stuff in LA is a
sun-drenched yellow and gold. The grain is light, the digital
artifacting is non-existent and the contrast levels are dead on.
This is a dead-eye disc in terms of video quality. Sound-wise, this
film isn't all that thrilling, so don't expect the disc to blow you
away. For what it does, it does the job well. On the extras side,
there are two: the trailer and a brand new commentary track. The
track features Jackson, his co-star Clifton Gonzalez Gonzalez (his
nemesis), director Kevin Reynolds (Waterworld)
and writer/former teacher Scott Yagemann. The group presents the
film very well, and their discussion is easy to listen to. Reynolds
and Jackson pour some insight into the motivations and Yagemann
gives his side of how real all this was and is. It's worth listening
to. The trailer is your standard trailer, but it's here.
187 is something that's hard
to watch, but once you make the decision to put it in, it grabs you
so hard that you can't pull away. Like a screwdriver to the gut,
this film has an impact that lasts long after you've slid the disc
back into its case. If you have the stomach for truth, I suggest you
pop this one in.