“All I do is kill people who are already dead.”
No one drops the F-bomb like Samuel L. Jackson (Marvel’s The Avengers). He somehow manages to say the word as matter-of-factly as you or I would say “good morning.” In Meeting Evil, Jackson’s over-the-top acting style and penchant for four-letter expletives is perfectly suited to the role of Richie, a mysterious and dangerous drifter wreaking havoc upon the lives of everyone he meets. While not a masterpiece by any means, this fun little chiller has a sufficient number of thrills to keep you engaged and entertained.
John (Luke Wilson The Royal Tenenbaums) is a recently unemployed real estate agent whose house is in foreclosure. Desperate and in a loveless marriage, he meets the enigmatic Richie (Jackson) who’s experiencing some car problems. When John gets hurt helping with Richie’s car, the man offers to take him to the hospital. But the initially amiable Richie has more sinister intentions, taking John on a murderous ride; one this father of two isn’t sure he’ll ever make it back from.
I love Sam Jackson. He could star alongside Katherine Heigl (God forbid a thousand times) and I’d line up to see it…or at least add it to my Netflix queue. Here Jackson is doing what he does best — yelling, cursing, and commanding the screen as few actors can. Richie is pure evil and Jackson gets to ham it up freely, while at the same time scaring the crap out of John with menacing looks that would make me wet myself. Richie is an enigma, intentionally appearing in John’s life with knowledge of far too many personal details for a man he’s never met. During a classic Sam Jackson final monologue, Richie reveals a little tidbit that sheds some light on the real reason he set his sights on John. Throughout the film he teeters on the cusp madness, killing without hesitation. His ruthlessness is so frightening, we don’t know what motivates him to commit these violent acts, or who will be his next victim.
Luke Wilson is okay as John, the down on his luck real estate agent. Anyone could’ve played this part and it wouldn’t have made much difference. This is not a knock on Wilson…okay, maybe it is. He tries his best to keep up with Jackson, but just doesn’t have the presence or the chops to hang in there. Ultimately, Wilson’s performance is forgettable, spending most of the film either partially or extremely frustrated, which is the extent of his emotional range.
Meeting Evil has a pointless subplot involving a beautiful co-worker — Tammy (Peyton List, Mad Men) — with whom John had a brief affair. Though he broke it off and went back to his wife, she’s still infatuated…which doesn’t bode well. Despite being suspicious of Richie, Tammy agrees to give him a ride so she can be close to John. Surprise! This decision puts her in a terrifying fight for her life.
Leslie Bibb (Iron Man) rounds out the cast as Wilson’s wife Joanie, a far more interesting character than her onscreen hubby. On the surface, she’s a polite lady and doting mother. Underneath that façade, she’s a cold calculating mama bear who’ll gut you like a pig if you mess with her carefully crafted family. She may also be harboring a dangerous secret that could cost John his life.
Presented in standard definition 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen, this fine DVD experience exhibits a clear picture and crisp colors. The Dolby 5.1 Surround mix makes for dialogue that is easy to hear. Unfortunately, it also enables us to hear composer Ryan Beveridge’s all-too-obtrusive score that regularly screams “Hey! Pay attention! Something is going to happen now!” making the film about as suspenseful as a daytime soap opera.
Meeting Evil lives and dies with Sam Jackson. He makes this quirky little film far more interesting than it has any right to be. Only Sam can turn a homicidal murderer into a guy you could see yourself sitting down for a beer with.
Sam Jackson. ‘Nuff said.