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Eye For An Eye

review by Zach B.



Rating: R (For Language and Disturbing Violence)

Running Time: 101 minutes

Starring: Sally Field, Kiefer Sutherland, Ed Harris, Beverly D'Angelo and Joe Mantegna

Screenplay by: Amanda Silver & Rick Jaffa
Based on the novel by: Erika Holzer

Directed by: John Schlesinger


Studio: Paramount

Retail Price: $24.95

Features: None

Specs: 1.85:1 Anamorphic Widescreen, English Dolby Digital 5.1, English Dolby Surround, French Stereo, English Subtitles, English Closed Captions, Scene Selection (10 Scenes)

Released: April 16th, 2002



Sally Field is Karen McCann. A loving wife and mother, she seems to have a great job and is your typical housewife. However, all of this comes crumbling down on the day of her youngest daughter's birthday, when her older daughter, Julie, comes home early from school to help. But then, Julie lets in a stranger. Before you know it, Julie is raped and then killed. Karen is all on the other line being stuck in traffic while all of this is going on, making it more upsetting. Yes, the killer is caught but is then released, it's up for Karen to take matters into her own hands.

"Eye For An Eye," upon it's release at the box office in 1996, actually did rather well, somehow taking in and staying strong by making over 50 million dollars (somehow I remember this one bombing). This seems like the type of crowd pleasing thriller audiences like, and during the past six years, I don't think it's gained more of an audience. It's really standard, and mainstream audiences like this kind of revenge film. They have their protagonist they cheer for (that here being Karen McCann) and that sick son of a bitch they love to hate (Robert Doob). Basically, it's all about Karen's plight and her revenge against the man who murdered and raped her daughter. We see what drives Karen to hate and that Robert is just scum. There's no humanity really to either of these characters, it seems. I personally don't like movies in the vein of "Eye For An Eye." The characters are strictly trapped in their own dimensions. They aren't totally fleshed out and played in the ways we want them to be played.

Not to say I didn't enjoy "Eye For An Eye." It's not terrible, but I've seen better and more full thriller than this that are rather standard themselves. It's entertaining and before going in, you really know what you're getitng in for. But for some reason, throughout the whole thing, I was incredibly intrigued and wanted to know what happened. I guess a movie is good when it does that, and I suppose this film is a little guilty pleasure of mine. It knows what it is and works perfectly like that, and I think that's why it's so enjoyable. The filmmakers know what they're making and like I said, audiences know what they're getting into. This movie just manipulates you to the core. Everything is simply set in stone and one thing justifies the other, and as an audience we're supposed to go along with it.

I guess this is all because of the screenewriters, but perhaps more so for John Schlensinger. Schlensinger in recent years has delivered his hits and misses, and I suppose "Eye For An Eye" falls in between. He does his job here though and quite well, with very nice shots and an excellent pace to the film. He goes out and does what he has to do, making it what the script offers. He does a very good job with the material given. On a different note, James Newton Howard's score is very nice as well that fits right in with the themes of the film.

The performances here are very good. Sally Field, as we know, is a great and talented actress, and I wonder why her powerful performance here didn't get recognized. Granted, this movie was released early in 1996, but she plays Karen to the bone. Her sadness, her mayhem and her intensity is pretty much perfected in a rather realistic, gripping and sad performance. Ed Harris as Karen's new husband is quite good, while Kiefer Sutherland, always taking rather diverse roles, mixes it up as our deranged villain. He's truly evil and will send chills down your spine. We also have smaller but equally good performances from Beverly D'Angelo and Joe Mantegna as Karen's co-worker and a police detective, respectively.

I personally felt that "Eye For An Eye" also brought up good points about society and loops in the legal system. Yet this movie is incredibly disturbing, especially the first ten minutes. The symbolisms (yes, it has them!) and images the film provokes are downright creepy and eerie if you ask me, and perhaps that's why the film drew me in.

If you're looking for a somewhat powerful drama to check out that has nice elements of the whole revenge and "take justice into your own hands" scheme, then "Eye For An Eye" is worth checking out. It's not as bad as you may think, even if you've probably seen something like it before.


"Eye For An Eye" is presented in 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen, and it looks quite good. As usual, Paramount offers quite a lovely transfer. This movie is dark in content and the visual style is the same too. Fleshtones are quite good, but sometimes they do smear a little and don't look as natural as they should. Still, they look pretty lovely. Colors are well saturated with a true sense of depth and boldness. The colors really do help this film, be it the darkness it all holds. Shadow detail is great, blacks are fine and little instances are good too. There can be some noise and grain can be spotted, not to mention some blemishes, but overall, this is a fine transfer.


The English 5.1 Dolby Digital track is very good too. James Newton Howard's score is well mixed through the channels, while dialogue is well balanced against the other sound cues and is easy to hear. You can feel the tension rising, but not as much as I hoped. There are some nice surrounds (especially during the opening rape and killing), and some more violent noises, but it's not too much or what one might expect. The use of the .1 LFE is decent at best too. A little above average, basically. Also included is an English Dolby Surround track as well as a French stereo track, plus English closed captions and English subtitles.


Nothing here. Not even a trailer, which I remember seeing several times before the film opened.


"Eye For An Eye" is a decent thriller that I found to be a guilty pleasure. While there are no extras, the picture is solid and the sound mix is very good. It's worth a rental, but if you're a fan of the film, do look into it...