Eye for an Eye (1996)

Genres - Thriller  |   Sub-Genres - Crime Thriller, Psychological Thriller  |   Release Date - Jan 12, 1996 (USA)  |   Run Time - 102 min.  |   Countries - United States   |   MPAA Rating - R
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This crime drama from John Schlesinger features some excellent performances from its trio of leads and one effectively horrifying scene, but strays too far into the credibility-straining territory of "women in jeopardy" television movies. Sally Field is appropriately stricken as an inconsolable, vengeful mother, and her co-star Ed Harris is equally effective in the stoic, supportive husband role. The real cast standout, however, is Kiefer Sutherland as demented murderer and rapist Robert Doob. The actor demonstrates yet again what sharp observers have often noted: his efficacy with villainous characters, demonstrated through early breakout roles in Stand by Me (1986) and The Lost Boys (1987). The problem with Eye for an Eye is its script. At first, the director seems to be setting up the audience for a grueling emotional roller-coaster ride with an early scene of a brutal attack heard by a mother over the telephone, a gut-wrenching clip-reel highlight for everyone involved. The film proceeds to quickly go wrong not long thereafter, with its muddled and far-fetched story twists. Whether it's the fault of the novel source material or screenwriters Amanda Silver and Rick Jaffa, the film presents several laughable developments as serious plot points to be accepted soberly. Among them are the ideas of an underground vigilante movement of revenge-seeking mothers and the daft, incredibly suicidal decision of the villain to target the same family a second time. Schlesinger has clearly demonstrated a proclivity for this genre, but despite repeated efforts such as The Believers (1987), Pacific Heights (1990), and this film, he has yet to equal, except in glimpses, the paranoia and fiendish energy of his best thriller, the classic Marathon Man (1976).