← Back to Reviews
\

American History X


Well, it's here...


Review #140, My 200th Movie


American History X




Brothers Derek and Daniel have their lives thrown into chaos when their father, a firefighter, is killed by an African American drug dealer while he was doing his job.
Derek takes things to the extreme however when he joins up with and eventually becomes a leading figure in a Neo-Nazi Race-Hate group.
One night, while resting at home, Derek and Danny here a noise outside and realise that a group of black guys are trying to steal their truck, a truck that once belonged to their deceased father... and Derek goes completely nuts, killing two of the gang member.

Sentenced to prison, Derek is brutally treated by everyone he comes into contact with, at one point he's even raped, but eventually gathers a humane side and his feelings of Race Hate are quashed as he becomes good friends with a fellow inmate, an African American.
But once out of prison, he learns his younger brother is going down the same route as he went...

... he must work alongside one of Danny's teachers who has assigned Danny a new lesson known as American History X... and they must try their best to stop Danny from destroying his life through crime and racist behaviour with the Neo-Nazi group...

.. but with Derek's old 'friends' just down the road, it may be harder and much more dangerous than he wants.

---
One of the most important movies of the past 25 years, the movie chronicles a number of issues within society, with Racial Tension being at the foreground.
X gives the viewer an incredibly well written drama and is laced brilliantly with tension and some wonderful screenplay and plot elements too.

It's also very hard hitting when the more violent scenes are playing out, it doesn't shy away from the realism and the attitudes of realism when the blood and gore start flying.
The other thing is the overall attitude toward the racial and discrimination side of the story is that the movie doesn't shy away from this either. There are a number of scenes with uncomfortable situations throughout... but it's handled with more and more realism, which gives it a real edge over many other films of this type.


One thing that lets the film down, if you can call it a fault, is that it really shows the ugly side of society as a whole... some viewers will find this extremely uncomfortable and may even find certain elements quite upsetting.
It's not a fault in my eyes, but I've known some people who were offended by some of the characters and character developements.

---
The acting though is by far some of the best I've seen from a bunch of actors I regard as mediocre at best.
Edward Norton as older brother Derek is absolutely fantastic. His changes in character are awesome. He goes from normal applepie American kid to an incredibly powerful and dangerous criminal to a reformed and obviously damaged individual through the movie. He's very good.
Edward Furlong is also on top form as Danny... Furlong is wooden at best in all his other movies but he just feels right here... it's hard to imagine anyone else in the role, Furlong really is the naive, typical and impressionable school kid with an attitude.

Back up comes on the form of Beverly D'Angelo, Ethan Suplee, Fairuza Balk, Stacy Keach, Elliot Gould and Avery Brooks.
All give 110%.

---

All in all, an important and incredibly hard hitting movie, from the rather downbeat beginning to the very downbeat but philosophical ending...
... it's also brilliantly and emotionally charged, very real in attitude and character and is completely shameless in showing you what you don't think you want to see.
It's also exceptionally well shot and written and full of some of the finest acting in any movie of it's type.
Definitely worthy of its spot in my Review Thread.
My rating 100%