Out of jail on parole, supremacist Garett and his ruthless girlfriend take an African-American family hostage after killing a cop. Walker, an ornery ex-con himself, will do everything he can to protect and free his family, but to overtake the murderous couple, he will have to confront his own brand of bigotry and danger. No one will be safe tonight.
One of the hottest issues in America for this decade is the subject of racism. There’s a growing concern about the divide of white and black Americans that has resulted in much violence. You can’t help but be a little taken aback by a film like Supremacy which wants to use this subject, but only as an overly dramatized version of true life events. One would think that trying to find some meaning to a world of despicable and hateful characters would mean that Garrett Tully could display some insight and importance on racism. All is lost, however, as this film tosses out the reality of the story for an underdeveloped hostage story.
Garrett Tully (Joe Anderson) was a Neo-Nazi released from prison in 1992 and found himself back in the big house after only a day of freedom. The movie dramatizes the entirety of his life outside in which he murdered a cop and held a black family hostage. The house - occupied by a father, wife, two kids and two grandkids - is terrified and bitter by the presence of a white supremacist waving a gun in their house and spouting out the N word as much as possible (you know, just in case you forgot he was a racist for a few seconds). His partner in crime is a ditzy girlfriend of a racist (Dawn Olivieri) who sort of plays the role of the good cop in this scenario (or good racist).
The only member of the family that doesn’t appear overly emotional during this situation is father of the house Mister Walker (Danny Glover) who can somewhat relate to Tully having been to prison himself. He calmly and quietly tries to talk down the invading racists and his family members to prevent any violence. It feels strange watching a movie where Danny Glover is the collected voice of reason as opposed to the incoherent rambler he usually plays.
The script naturally turns south when the characters find themselves locked in the house with a hostage situation. It is during this time that the story narrowly avoids any meaningful or intriguing analysis of the racial boundaries that hinder society. In its place is a dull character study of a Tully with major personal issues and Mister Walker with family issues. Even those plot points still have be wedged between a lackluster performance of Joe Anderson trying too hard to embody a white supremacist. He does his best to rally off the N-word as hatefully as possible, but he just doesn’t come across as threatening. Perhaps that’s why the movie felt the need to make him shoot one of the family so that you’ll take him at least a little bit seriously.
As for Glover, he stands relatively strong as the aged voice of experience and reason, breaking down Tully through his mutterings about dishonesty and humanity. He’s far too well-spoken in the role how he’s able to talk down the racist Tully to the point where he could pretty much convince the intruder to shoot himself. This is a racist who grabs and shoots a black cop for asking of his ID, but he somehow calms down and exposes himself like a therapy patient around Danny Glover. Maybe Morgan Freeman’s smooth vocals could calm the beast, but I just don’t see it with Glover’s quiet whispers.
The tension is artificially amped up by constantly placing the family in danger as the white supremacists try to keep them quiet when the cops come knocking. The story also tries way too hard to garner sympathy and depth from the characters by making Tully a depressed mess of time served and his girl a mother with deep concern for her child. None of this comes across all that well in the direction which tacked on these details when needed. Likewise, there’s a lot of backstory piled on for Walker’s family drama that rears its head where it feels unwanted. These two plots childishly avoids any real discussion of clashing races. After all the ho-hum drama and standard hostage tension, the movie actually pulls the old line about we’re not so different.
Supremacy could have been a stirring picture about racism in America, but takes the lesser route of a soulless hostage situation story. The movie is uncomfortable not for its subject matter, but for how it places kids at the forefront of this danger. A teenager is shot, a little boy is nearly suffocated to death and a baby cries out in fear. Tully's girl speaks so casually about shooting the baby despite having a child of her own - only bringing up that parallel later when it’s convenient. There is some decent acting in this poorly written drama, but it comes off as a plea by the actors begging for a better script. There probably wasn’t anything all that intricate to Tully’s tale that director Deon Taylor felt the need to take liberties with the story. But if you’re going to take liberties with such events, why not do something more than just make another hostage movie too simple and too ugly for its own good? Why not make a film that’s done its homework about the minds of crazed Arian ex-cons? Why not put a microscope under race relations in a tense situation of violence? This may not have been the aim, but it’s hard to argue otherwise when the N-word is constantly spouted at a black family with such spit and hate.