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187

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Samuel L. Jackson’s implosive performance goes wasted in confused drama 187 about a Los Angeles high school teacher at odds with the gangstas in his classroom. That he’s already traumatized by having nearly been killed at his last school helps keep the movie simmering. But what’s it trying to be? A grittier Lean on Me? An eye-for-an-eye exploitation flick like The Substitute? Director Kevin Reynolds gives 187 a trippy, hyperreal edge with an urban-decay color scheme and ghetto wasteland tracking shots that—especially on the tube—say music video; but for all the smooth camera moves, he never finds a focus. Long before it builds to its ludicrous Russian roulette finale, this film has lost our respect, if not our attention. C-

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