The Aisle Seat - Movie Reviews by Mike McGranaghan
Page copy protected against web site content infringement by Copyscape
Send this page to Twitter!  

THE AISLE SEAT - by Mike McGranaghan



In 1992, Garret Tully was released from the Pelican Bay State Penitentiary after serving 15 years for armed robbery. He was a free man for one day.

Those words open the drama Supremacy, which is ostensibly based on a true story. It's an odd note on which to begin a movie, because you already know that A.) Garret Tully is not going to get away with whatever crime he commits upon release; and B.) he doesn't die at the end. That sound you hear is suspense flying out the window. Supremacy isn't a bad film – the performances are much too good for that – but it most definitely is an example of how not to deal with hot-button subject matter.

Joe Anderson (The Grey) plays Tully, a white supremacist freshly sprung from the joint. Meeting him outside its walls is Doreen (Dawn Olivieri), a white-trash Aryan groupie. (Is there really even such a thing as an Aryan groupie, and if so, how pathetic is that?) They're supposed to take part in some vague plan masterminded by still-behind-bars Aryan Brotherhood leader Sobecki (Anson Mount). In the process of doing this, Tully kills a police officer. Now on the run, they invade the home of a black family and hold them hostage until receiving further instruction from Sobecki. Danny Glover plays Mr. Walker, the man of the house, whose estranged son (Derek Luke) is oh-so-coincidentally a local sheriff's deputy. Mr. Walker is an ex-con himself, one who decides to use his intellect to protect his family from the armed intruders.

The plot specifics of Supremacy don't really matter too much. This movie is more about reaching for thematic depth. Having two white supremacists invade the home of a black family is an excuse to explore issues of racism and hatred. That would be okay if the screenplay by Eric J. Adams ever went beyond a surface level. In actuality, it doesn't have anything of genuine substance to say on the topic. “Racists are cowards” is about as deep as it gets. Will that come as a shock to anyone?

The shallow treatment of a complicated issue leads to a much more troubling problem. Tully spends almost the entire movie pointing his gun at people (including young children) and yelling racial epithets, including near-constant use of the N-word. Given that Supremacy makes no real attempt to explore the mindset of Aryans, those words take on an increasingly uncomfortable quality. The audience is subjected to appalling language, with no greater purpose being achieved.

Working in the movie's favor is a solid cast. Anderson is entirely credible as a hate-filled bigot, and his performance can best be described as “thoroughly committed.” The actor tries mightily to fill in the screenplay's gaps, showing how Tully's rage is actually motivated by fear and ignorance. He's terrific. So is Dawn Olivieri as the drug-addicted loose cannon that is Doreen. She very effectively plays a mess of a person struggling to avoid going down the drain. And you can always count on Danny Glover to lend an air of dignity to anything he's in.

Directed by Deon Taylor, Supremacy is better if you ignore the racial stuff and just treat it as a home invasion thriller. On this level, it's at least passably entertaining. Mr. Walker treats the situation like a chess game; he's always trying to think one step ahead of Tully. As it becomes more and more clear that the Aryan isn't really going to kill anyone in the home, he steps his game up considerably. That admittedly creates a few relatively interesting moments along the way.

I applaud any movie that tries to take issues of race seriously, and Supremacy is no exception. But despite good intentions and a hard-working cast, the film never even approaches the level of profundity it strives for. The big payoff between Tully and Mr. Walker is a heavy-handed, utterly implausible scene that vastly oversimplifies the solutions to racial hatred. To make a movie about Aryans, you really need to have some sort of psychological insight into what makes them tick. It's blessedly a state of mind most of us cannot relate to. Supremacy lacks any such insight, which makes it watchable, although never especially impactful.

( out of four)

Supremacy is unrated, but contains drug use, violence, and offensive racist language. The running time is 1 hour and 46 minutes.

Buy a copy of my book, "Straight-Up Blatant: Musings From The Aisle Seat," on sale now at! Paperback and Kindle editions also available at!

Support independent publishing: Buy this book on Lulu.