A especially vile little example of audience manipulation is “Eye for an Eye,” which leads to a conclusion that, had I accepted it, would have made me feel unclean. It centers on a regular woman who is persuaded to pursue blood vengeance in a plot where the odds are blatantly and shamelessly stacked against her. Ironically, “Dead Man Walking” and this film are both released at the same moment. Both stories deal with murderers and their victims and, in a sense, deal with the death penalty. “Dead Man Walking” forces us to consider a variety of moral and ethical dilemmas. To further an exploitation scheme, “Eye for an Eye” deliberately blinds us by excluding morality to the greatest extent possible.
Karen hears the attack over the phone
In an especially horrifying scene early in the film, Sally Field plays Karen, a mother whose adolescent daughter is raped and killed. Karen hears the attack over the phone as the daughter phones for assistance. and then attempts to drive quickly home, gets caught in traffic, and finds herself in a terrifying situation where other drivers refuse her request to use a cell phone.
A criminal scene is there when she gets home. When Karen becomes distraught, she seeks solace from her spouse (Ed Harris) and their young daughter. Meanwhile, a quick-thinking officer (Joe Mantegna) captures a suspect by the name of Doob. (Kiefer Sutherland). Even the DNA and semen samples support his identity. However, Doob escapes on a ridiculous technicality, which causes Karen to become fixated. She joins a group of survivors who support one another; their guiding principle is “You show me your heartbreak and I’ll show you mine.” And she also exposed to a murky network of people who have made the decision to impose their own laws through them.
She follows Doob. He smokes constantly, has tattoos, needs to shave, kicks dogs, and is a cruel, nasty, brutish guy. He visits a field at her young daughter’s school and terrorizes the young girl when he realizes she is following him. Karen loses control, asks for assistance from her group’s covert advisors, gets a weapon, and enrolls in shooting and martial arts classes. Through the omniscient point of view of the movie, we observe Doob assassinating and killing a further target.
Audience members have witnessed Doob killing someone
So let’s be clear about this. Doob is unquestionably a murderer; that much is clear. Audience members have witnessed Doob killing someone, which is something a juror will never be able to see. In addition, he is an utterly abhorrent, useless human being. Consequently, he merits execution, right? And killing Field was a legitimate act, right? The appearance of Angel Kosinsky (Charlayne Woodard) in the support group, who has suspicions about what Karen might be up to, adds a little bit of complexity to the plot. Although the movie had already tried to manipulate me in so many ways, I looking for a shady motive for Angel’s character when none likely intended.
Angel is a black lesbian, which is completely all right with me. (Were the filmmakers attempting to demonstrate that they were leftists with a liberal outlook except when it came to deserving retribution?) In two other odd scenes, Field, who has recently become more motivated as a result of her martial arts training, beats up an innocent bystander and then, elated by the experience, engages in such aggressive sex with her mild spouse that he finds it hard to believe.
One of those hypothetical situations
This movie’s deliberate avoidance of addressing the problems it raises makes it intellectually corrupt. This film is one of those hypothetical situations where everything skewed to build up to the conclusion the filmmakers demand, in contrast to “Dead Man Walking,” which a brave effort to show various points of view about the death sentence. The cards distributed correctly. We have no doubt that the man is culpable. He has killed before, and he will murder again. Also he is an evil villain who makes the flesh crawl. He is a monstrous monster. The film’s ending, which I will withhold revealing here, is a total copout because it deftly manages to throw meat to the audience while at least theoretically absolving the Sally Field character.