September 16, 2011 Straw Dogs
Studio: Screen Gems Rating: R for strong brutal violence including a sexual attack, menace, some sexual content, and pervasive language.
What is the measure of a man? How far can you push someone before they push back? Those are the two main themes from the thriller, "Straw Dogs."
It's fairly faithful to director Sam Peckinpah's 1971 original...but there are some minor changes. The setting has moved from England to the Gulf Coast...and the hero is no longer a mathematician.
Instead, screenwriter David Sumner (James Marsden) moves with his wife (Kate Bosworth) to her hometown in the deep south.
Tensions start to build when they come across her old high school boyfriend (Alexander Skarsgard).
David's first reaction to the trouble with the locals is to downplay it...and try to find some way to get along. But that answer soon proves to be ineffective because the troublemakers aren't letting up.
It all comes to a head with a siege at the couple's farmhouse, where David has to decide what he is willing to do to protect his family.
Director Rod Lurie has stayed pretty true to Peckinpah's original vision....and that includes the level of violence in this film. It is gritty and intense, with people doing some fairly terrible things to other people.
But it's also a lesson in bravado and machismo and how turning the other cheek may just get both of your cheeks slapped.
Marsden does a nice job as the reluctant warrior, but once he turns the switch it is unsettling. And Skarsgard as his wife's creepy ex gives off the proper amount of malevolence.
This movie is put together pretty well, but it is very intense with some graphic violence, so you are forewarned.
On my rating scale, "Straw Dogs" earns a TRIPLE.
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