I can’t believe this actually happened, but I found out about a movie from a trailer on a DVD that I rented, and then I rented that movie. And it didn’t turn out to be a great movie but it was a fairly interesting one that I don’t think got any attention at all, so I might use this technique again.
SUPREMACY is the story of swastika-and-Confederate-flag-tattooed Aryan Brotherhood fucko Garrett Tully (Joe Anderson, ACROSS THE UNIVERSE, THE CRAZIES, THE GREY, HERCULES, Mason Verger on Hannibal) who gets out on parole and on his first day out robs a convenience store, gets pulled over, and shoots a cop. So, with helicopters overhead and roadblocks all around he and Doreen, (Dawn Olivieri, THE LAST WITCH HUNTER), his white power associate assigned to pick him up from prison, break into a house and take a family hostage. As luck would have it the family are black, so there is quite a bit of tension and racial slurs here.
The head of the household is an ex-con himself, Mr. Walker (Danny Glover, PREDATOR 2), who lives with his girlfriend Odessa (Lela Rochon, KNOCK OFF), her son Anthony (Evan Ross, THE HUNGER GAMES: MOCKINGJAY 1-2), daughter Cassie (Robin Bobeau, “Excited Lady,” BAADASSSSS!) and grandson Jamar (Alex Henderson, Young Andre on Empire and Young Adonis in CREED) and a baby. Tully and Doreen point guns at them and hole them up in an upstairs bedroom and try to claim they’re being reasonable even as they threaten them and bring up dumb racist stereotypes and shit. So Mr. Walker has to find a way out of this.
Of course there are numerous complications. There are disagreements and fights among the family and among the home invaders. There’s an attempt to get a hold of a knife and fight back. There’s a family member who gets accidentally wounded. There are negotiations to go to the bathroom or get food. The family are forced to pretend everything’s okay at gunpoint in situations like somebody calling on the phone or Mr. Walker’s estranged son Raymond (Derek Luke, SPARTAN), a cop, showing up at the door and wanting to take a look around.
Glover is very good as always, and he’s too old to be too old for this shit. He limps around and groans and is not about to make a move. Instead he tries to manipulate them psychologically, mostly by being nice to them. He tries to use what they have in common – having done time and hating cops – to create a bond. There’s a weird thing where he makes Tully give him his word not to hurt Anthony and then when he does anyway Walker seems more outraged by the breaking of the word than anything and keeps shaming him about it. “Your word,” he keeps saying judgmentally in that Danny Glover rasp. And it’s not really effective in the sense of getting him to do somethin,g but every time he does it Tully winces.
And this is kind of a problem I had with the movie, but tell me if this is weird. Normally it’s a good thing to have very nuanced, layered, conflicted villains. They do that here and Anderson really goes to work on it, showing a real bravado with his actions but remorse in his expressions, clearly tormented by what he’s doing. But I don’t know man, this is a guy giving his life away to the white supremacist movement. I just don’t buy it. If he had human empathy in there I don’t believe it would come up so immediately or so transparently in this situation. I think he would keep it buried deep.
You know how there are those Trump die hards who put all their hopes into this sleazy fake rich guy from the game show, believing he was on their side and he was gonna be their revenge on the elites and the politically corrects who they think look down on them, and now that he is by far the worst president of all time and you would have to have a brain made out of rotted Velveeta cheese to not notice that he fucked up everything and very likely will destroy America and/or the world and clearly has no intentions of following through on anything he promised except racism, but they don’t want to admit they were wrong so they dig their heels in and sing “Mary Had a Little Lamb” on full blast in their brain all day and say he’s doing a great job? Well, you gotta figure it’s the same for a dude who covered his body in tattoos of swastikas and SS lightning bolts and battle flags and shit. I mean, that is a serious investment, it’s hard to go back on.
There are also a couple scenes that seem to be bringing up the possibility that he might be gay. And did Mr. Walker pick up on that and imply that he’s repressed something like that too? I might’ve misread it but I had a strong feeling of “I think this is like that Michael Stuhlbarg speech that went over my head in CALL ME BY YOUR NAME.” But it’s kind of a weird bit of pop psychology if it’s supposed to explain him overcompensating because we only see his racial animosity and not any homophobia.
Doreen is conflicted in more of an emotional wreck kind of way, and that I buy more because I figure she’s been abused and trapped in this sort of den mother/escort role. She’s very manic in the way she goes from trying to push Tully into killing them to telling them she’s nice and convinced him not to kill them, from spewing racist shit to a crying, self-loathing speech about them being better than her. At one point she thinks she’s suffocated Jamar, who’s about the age of a son taken away from her by the authorities, and when he turns out to live she’s in a daze and seems to completely change. Oliveiri is fantastic and I’m surprised she doesn’t have many big roles like this. In fact, this whole movie is a pretty good advertisement for her and Anderson to hopefully get some good roles where they might be bad guys but don’t have to be Neo-Nazis.
Mahershala Ali (PREDATORS) is in here two years before he got an Oscar for MOONLIGHT, and I was surprised he got named on the opening credits because he plays the deputy and basically just asks to see license and registration before he gets shot off camera. We do end up seeing a little more of him in a flashback, but it’s a small role. Same goes for Julie Benz (RAMBO), who’s in one scene as Raymond’s wife.
The credits inform us that it’s inspired by a real incident. The names and types of drama are changed. Titles at the beginning make a big deal about Tully only being out for 24 hours, but the real guy was 5 days. As far as I read the father was not an ex-con and didn’t get to leave and come back. Nobody in the family got shot.
Director Deon Taylor’s other work is horror (DEAD TONE, CHAIN LETTER, the NITE TALES movie and tv series hosted by Flavor Flav) and lowbrow comedy (THE HUSTLE starring Charlie Murphy, MEET THE BLACKS starring Mike Epps). He’s black, which makes it play very different to me. Like, I liked THREE BILLBOARDS, but it bothered me that this white guy did a movie where it seemed like maybe you should have some forgiveness for the violently racist cop because of a nice thing he tried to do for a white lady. Uh, I don’t think you get to decide that. But coming from a black director I can say okay, you want to show Danny Glover having empathy for this racist and helping him get out alive? That’s very generous of you. So for me the climax was pretty effective, not out of sympathy for Tully, but out of awe of Mr. Walker’s act of forgiveness.
The main thing I learned from this is that maybe I should look for more Danny Glover movies.
VERN has been reviewing movies since 1999 and is the author of the books SEAGALOGY: A STUDY OF THE ASS-KICKING FILMS OF STEVEN SEAGAL, YIPPEE KI-YAY MOVIEGOER!: WRITINGS ON BRUCE WILLIS, BADASS CINEMA AND OTHER IMPORTANT TOPICS and NIKETOWN: A NOVEL. His horror-action novel WORM ON A HOOK will arrive later this year.