Meeting Evil (2012) Review
Meeting Evil (2012), starring Samuel L. Jackson and Luke Wilson, directed by Chris Fisher (S. Darko, Cold Case, Person of Interest) has shown great promise! The film is concerned with deep underlying concerns about the endurance and the struggle of Luke Wilson's character John Felton against his arch-foil Samuel L. Jackson's "Richie".
Richie and Felton are both interesting characters developing the story in juxtapositioning of one another. The conflict is clear: the reaching the balance between both extremes of good and evil. With almost all his possessions slowly dwindling away with even less hope of a swift recovery, or a recovery in time, Felton begins to dig a massive hole in his backyard. Thinking it's something he needs to do for his wife, he continues until he is confronted with Richie at the front door. Unsure of what to make of it, Felton's good-hearted character begins to offer what little help he can provide. Little does he know that Richie has some ulterior motives.
Samuel L. Jackson has a dominating influence on the screen, leaving little possibility of actors from even exercising an equivalent level of formidable charm. Samuel fits very easily inside the mind of Richie, as he begins to investigate and tear down the illusionary world Felton lives in. Richie has very deep layers, his motive isn't simply killing. With an overwhelmingly nihilistic perspective, Richie attempts to "man up" Felton in order to reveal a hidden plot, to open his mind to greater possibilities than what Felton believes.
Chris Fisher skillfully uses a moderately sophisticated mise en scene relying heavily with the interplay between dark and light, revealing stark contrasts and polar expressions in both Samuel's countenance and Wilson's reverence of him. We learn right away that Richie's countenance isn't just a coincidence: he is a character both psychologically and physically disturbed, experiencing fetishtic release and surge of life after each kill--he is the true countenance of evil, according to Fisher, and thereby casting Samuel L. Jackson in all-too-familiar roles, with an equally familiar countenance. Hollywood has grown to depend on Samuel L. Jackson for his cunning and fearsome expressions, vocal tonality, and pitch to induce both dread and the brutality of humankind.
Revealing the Evil in Samuel L. Jackson
In the gallery above, the most definitive lighting and its heavy dependence is immediately recognized: SLJ's face is halfway covered in darkness, a man of major conflicting ideas, but with a sense of honor and preserving dignity. He even states that he loathes those characteristics of which he does not possess. Later in the film, SLJ's dark countenance, in his dark suit, takes over the light as he emerges from the recesses of his mind, maybe even the mind of Luke Wilson's character--he simply cannot believe that someone can be so evil. When he emerges from the light, we know then that SLJ is indeed as close to the devil as possible. In the two images just below, we know almost immediately that SLJ was meant to overtake the camera, the mise en scene, as would his to have taken over Felton. We see several sequences of SLJ dominating the mise en scene, showing us that SLJ's Richie is truly the one in control of the film.
Destroying the Good in Luke Wilson
Chris Fisher argues that a meeting with evil will always leave you changed, maybe not to the same extreme as Samuel L. Jackson's Richie, but a change in the overall dependence on the good qualities of existence. Although Felton desperately wishes never to become like Richie, his destiny and his experiences throughout the film almost lead him to believe that maybe this is how me must become, in order to win the love and respect of his social circle. With a man who has lost everything, even his own wife with whom he protected dearly against Richie, his character never truly remains the same in the end. We receive many hints throughout the movie that he is indeed changing. The disrupted light rays reveal both uncertainty and tension, a penetration of a new expression through beams of light, except the light is being controlled by the wooden blocks to make sure that his change was occurring.
You'll notice that when SLJ is coming out of the darkness, he consumes the light. When Luke Wilson goes towards the darkness, the darkness consumes him (see his shadow as he walks towards the corner).
This is an exceptional film, worth your time to watch!