American Violence

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User Ratings: 93


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Average Rating: 2.5/5

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Movie Info

Fascinated by the root causes of violent behavior, world renowned psychologist, Dr. Amanda Tyler, has an opportunity to interview and analyze death row inmate Jackson Shea. As the interview commences, and Jack's fate hangs in the balance, Amanda must determine whether or not a stay of execution should be granted.

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Bruce Dern
as Richard Morton
Denise Richards
as Amanda Tyler
Columbus Short
as Ben Woods
Kaiwi Lyman
as Jackson Shea
Michael Paré
as Martin Bigg

Critic Reviews for American Violence

All Critics (3) | Top Critics (1)

  • American Violence seems defiantly unconcerned with addressing the actual issues at play, delivering a generic crime thriller instead.

    Feb 3, 2017 | Rating: .5/4 | Full Review…
  • American Violence tosses in everything from sordid child molesting uncles to a life of crime to a true love, except none of it is handled remotely in a way that doesn't elicit loads of unintentional laughter

    Dec 4, 2017 | Rating: 1/5 | Full Review…
  • There are so many head-slapping moments, it would take paragraphs to recount them all.

    Jan 31, 2017 | Rating: D | Full Review…

Audience Reviews for American Violence

This wasn't the movie that I was originally meant to watch. Cave, a Norwegian horror film, was the original film I chose. The problem ended up being that,sadly, Netflix had English and Spanish dub for the movie, they didn't include the original Norwegian language. I had to rush to pick another movie and this is what I ended up watching. Capital punishment is one of those things that inspires really passionate debates on both sides. Those for it say that it's a form to punish those who may have committed horrible crimes against their fellow humans and it's only just to do so in order to keep this person from ever hurting anyone else. Those against it say it is cruel and morally wrong to answer death with more death. That's, obviously, an oversimplification of the issues capital punishment brings up, but it's a basic idea on what both sides argue. Personally, however, I've always been a bit mixed on the idea. Like, for example, if the crime is particularly heinous and it can be proved beyond a shadow of a doubt that the person accused is responsible, then I can't really bring myself to say that it's wrong. But part of me also looks at the fact that plenty of innocent people have been executed for crimes that they did not commit or the higher percentage of minorities sentenced to death when compared to white people who have committed similar crimes, that makes me feel that it is incorrect and cruel. But I digress, this is what brings us to this movie. This psychiatrist interviews this man on death row to determine whether a stay of execution should be considered. This man tells this doctor his story right from the very beginning of his childhood. Conceptually speaking this idea is, at the very least, somewhat intriguing. Perhaps there's nothing necessarily unique about this movie, given into consideration that that Dead Man Walking is over 20 years old by this point. But the film tells the story of Jackson Shea from his childhood, when his uncle used to sexually abuse him, to adulthood when, through a friend he met in prison after assaulting his uncle with a baseball bat, he finds his way into the criminal life. The main problem I have with the film, outside of it being a B-tier crime thriller, is that it goes through all the predictable story beats. Jackson was sexually abused, a mob boss killed his friend from prison (whom Jackson then burns alive). He finds himself down in Texas where he falls in love with this woman (who ends up dead at a later point in the film). He gets thrown in jail after a botched heist. There he meets a corrupt warden who has a proposition for him in exchange for his freedom. The warden, naturally, betrays him and this is when Jackson's love ends up dead. Jackson then kills the warden and that's where the movie begins. The film hits all of the threads you would expect them to and its approach to its sensitive subject isn't particularly subtle. It can be a little preachy and overly dramatic in trying to sell Jackson as this man who was justified in his actions, as no one helped protect him when he was a child suffering from sexual abuse, but it just doesn't work. The film is trying way too hard to sell me on its anti-death penalty approach. I believe they do try to balance it out with the Assistant District Attorney, but I don't think they do as good a job at offering an unbiased and balanced look at the death penalty as one should probably hope for. This isn't so much of an issue for me since, despite what I mentioned earlier, I'm leaning towards being anti-capital punishment myself. But I can see how some people, who are for that, might feel that the movie isn't giving the other side a 'fair shot'. Though I don't think that's the point of this film. The point is to show you that there's a more personal side to this. There's the people at the heart of this. Not saying that the crimes some of these people are accused of are justified, but just that there's more to these people. But I digress. I found the acting to be pretty decent all things considered, at least from the leads. Because there's some really shitty acting in this movie and that's just undeniable. But Kaiwi Lyman (who played Jackson) is fine in this role. There's some scenes where he's bad but, by and large, he's just fine. Denise Richards is also just fine. I think the problem I have with the film is that I just didn't find the story or character development to be all that interesting. The story is predictable and it's not even that good, even if it progresses in way that's logical. And, again, it handles a sensitive subject ineptly without any real subtlety or complexity. There's nothing really wrong with this movie in the slightest, it's perfectly fine to watch, but there's nothing that's great or even good about this. Could have been worse, this was better than I could have ever anticipated, but I wouldn't say that the movie is anything more than just a perfectly fine, B-tier crime thriller. I can't recommend this in the slightest, you should watch Dead Man Walking instead of this, but this will hold your attention for however long it lasts.

Jesse Ortega
Jesse Ortega

Super Reviewer

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