One Eight Seven (1997)

“At some point we have to take responsibility for our actions. The system will not protect us.” Samuel L. Jackson is “Trevor Garfield,” a dedicated teacher from a tough high school in New York City who is severely wounded by a deranged student wielding a knife. So what does this guy do, quit the profession and get a job at The Home Depot? No, after he recovers over a period of 15 months, Garfield decides to relocate to Los Angeles and becomes a substitute teacher at one of the most violent high schools in the system. Jackson is superb and the main reason I recommend this slightly convoluted slab of social commentary that unwisely devolves into a routine thriller punctuated by a deeply disturbing final scene. Few actors have the intensity to carry off the demanding role of a mild-mannered guy pushed to the boiling point but Jackson makes it all totally believable. Directed by Kevin Reynolds (Fandango), One Eight Seven also features John Heard, Kelly Rowan, Clifton Collins Jr., Tony Plana, Jack Kehler, Method Man and Karina Arroyave. The tagline asks, “When schools become war zones and both sides start taking casualties, what then?” The film’s title comes from the police code for homicide that is scrawled all over one of Garfield’s textbooks by the student who later attacks him.

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