Heavy-handedness triumphs over good intentions. Derek Vinyard (Edward Norton) enters prison as a neo-Nazi monster — he killed two black men — and exits as a more accomplished being. But Derek’s return doesn’t help the Vinyard’s LA household. Younger brother Danny (Edward Furlong) has turned into Derek’s bigoted copycat.
British director Tony Kaye relishes letting actors flash their menace. He blends black and white and color to keep the story straight — black and white is old, color new. Norton is incandescent, but Kaye hammers so seriously at “truth” that he shortchanges a key question: what happened to these two young men? That their firefighter father died in crack house blaze (one source of rage) only fuels cliché. Explaining Derek’s jail-time transformation might help, but Kaye deals with it only in snippets.
When in doubt, he cuts to brutality. Ambitious but facile.