Plot: Karen (Sally Field) was on the phone with her daughter when someone broke into their house, then she had to listen helplessly as her own child was raped and murdered by this intruder. In the wake of her daughter’s death, Karen feels so overwhelmed and unable to process what has happened, not to mention her own feelings of guilt over not protecting her child. She channels her grief into staying in touch with the police and pushing for answers, while she also attends a support group for parents who have lost a child to violent crime. Soon the police find a break in the case and arrest Robert (Kiefer Sutherland), a career criminal who seems to be facing serious jail time, but a technical issue voids some crucial evidence and as a result, he walks free. Karen is crushed, but refuses to just stand idle while he kills again. But will she take the law into her own hands and if so, will it bring her the closure she desperately needs?
Entertainment Value: As someone who appreciates vigilante justice cinema, I found Eye for an Eye to be a solid, if predictable genre installment. The premise is familiar, with a parent driven to settle the score with the creep that killed their child, but the narrative here at least tries to dust off the concept a little. I appreciated that Karen seems more motivated by protecting future victims than getting payback, which is evidenced by her interactions with the vigilante group and her decisions down the stretch. So this isn’t a “mom on a warpath” mission, but more of a devastated parent who doesn’t want others to have to endure her same fate. The pace is brisk, but never feels rushed and the cast is quite good, with some superb talent involved. Sally Field is more than capable in the lead, but Kiefer Sutherland steals the show here as the slime soaked criminal, he just oozes nastiness. This kind of narrative needs that vile antagonist and Sutherland more than pulls that off, he is just gross and sleazy here. The cast also includes Philip Baker Hall, Ed Harris, Beverly D’Angelo, Joe Mantegna, and yes film fans, the mighty Keith Davis is involved. While Eye for an Eye walks a well worn path, the cast elevates the material and for vigilante justice fans, this one is worth a watch.
No nakedness. The movie has two scenes of sexual violence, one that involves a teen girl and while the scenes are harsh, most of the assaults happen off screen. The film takes an effective approach of flashes of what is going on, which illustrates some brutal these rapes are, but doesn’t linger or turn to graphic elements. So tough scenes to watch, but they’re handled well and don’t go over the top. A little blood, but most of the violence here happens off screen and in truth, the tone is more about looming danger, not wild street justice. A couple gun shots yield the lone active bloodshed, but the wounds are minor and non graphic. There’s also some assorted scenes of physical intimidation and self defense, but again, nothing that is overly violent in nature. The dialogue is fine and while rather basic, the cast makes it work well. Sutherland has the most memorable lines, as he dials up the creepiness with his taunts. As for craziness, Sutherland earns a couple points for his epic sleazeball performance, which includes pouring coffee on a dog for no reason, just to be an asshole. But otherwise, Eye for an Eye sticks to genre conventions.
Overall Insanity: 2/10