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Eye for an Eye (1996 film)

Eye for an Eye
File:Eye for an Eye (1996 film) poster.jpg
Film poster
Directed by John Schlesinger
Produced by Michael I. Levy
Michael Polaire
Kathryn Knowlton (associate)
Screenplay by Amanda Silver
Rick Jaffa
Based on Eye for an Eye 
by Erika Holzer
Starring Sally Field
Kiefer Sutherland
Ed Harris
Beverly D'Angelo
Joe Mantegna
Music by James Newton Howard
Cinematography Amir M. Mokri
Edited by Peter Honess
Distributed by Paramount Pictures
Release dates
  • January 12, 1996 (1996-01-12)
Running time
101 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Budget $20 million
Box office $26,877,589 (US)[1]

Eye for an Eye is a 1996 American crime thriller film directed by John Schlesinger, written by Rick Jaffa and Amanda Silver. The film stars Sally Field, Kiefer Sutherland, Ed Harris, Beverly D'Angelo and Joe Mantegna. The story was adapted from Erika Holzer's novel of the same name. The film opened on January 12, 1996.

This film was remade in India as the Hindi film Dushman (1998) starring Kajol in a double role.[2]


Karen McCann (Sally Field) is happily married to Mack (Ed Harris) and has two daughters, 17-year-old Julie (Olivia Burnette) (from Karen's previous marriage) and six-year-old Megan (Alexandra Kyle). She lives in a nice house in Santa Monica, California and has a good job in a museum.

However, her world is shattered when Julie is violently raped and murdered, while Karen is on the phone listening, as she was previously talking to her daughter when the attack occurred. Detective Sergeant Joe Denillo (Joe Mantegna) assures Karen there is enough DNA evidence to help catch the killer. He also encourages her and her husband to seek counseling.

At a support group they meet people in similar circumstances, including Albert and Regina Gratz (William Mesnik and Rondi Reed), and Sidney Hughes (Philip Baker Hall). During the meeting, Karen overhears Albert talking to Sidney about something which alarms Regina.

The next day Denillo tells Karen DNA tests have revealed the killer as Robert Doob (Kiefer Sutherland), a delivery man with a criminal record. At the trial it is clear Doob is guilty, but because the defense was promised, but did not receive, a sample of the DNA to perform their own tests, the judge (Armin Shimerman) dismisses the case. Karen and Mack are dumbstruck as Doob walks free, and Mack furiously attacks Doob, but is overpowered by Guards and Doobs walks out unharmed.

Mack is desperate to return to a normal life, but Karen cannot stop thinking of Doob. She finds that he lives in a flophouse, then keeps detailed records of his movements, stalking him. After observing Doob while he is urinating on a customer's lawn after a delivery she goes to Denillo — but he tells her there's no evidence of intent. Karen attempts to warn the delivery customer, but the woman only speaks Spanish and does not understand her.

Karen later learns that the murderer of the son of a member of her support group has been killed in a drive-by shooting, just days after being released from prison. Angel (Charlayne Woodard), also in the self-help group, tells Karen the best way to get over her grief is to focus on the good times with her living daughter — and Karen realizes she has been so fixated on Doob that Megan has been deprived of her attention. Meanwhile, Doob has gone to Megan's school and struck up a conversation with the girl during recess. When Karen comes to pick up Megan, Doob deliberately intimidates her.

Worried for Megan’s safety, Karen remembers what happened to the killer of her friend's son and approaches Sidney, who admits the drive-by shooting was set up by him and Martin. Karen demands their help and they agree to find a weapon, train her, and plan the murder, but tell her she has to carry it out. Karen agrees and they begin plotting. She also joins a self-defense class which helps her gain more confidence, helps rekindle her sex life with Mack, and improves her relationship with Megan. Karen feels encouraged and, although Martin doubts Karen is capable of murder, Sidney gives her a gun.

The next day, Angel reveals that she is really an undercover FBI Agent investigating vigilante activity. Angel warns Karen not to kill Doob, as Karen would spend the rest of her life in prison. Karen calls Sidney to tell him she cannot go through with it. However, she soon changes her mind when she learns the Hispanic customer she tried to warn about Doob has been raped and murdered, in the same way Julie had been. Karen is so furious she accuses Denillo of not finding enough evidence that let's Doob go free. Hearing Doob has again gotten off on a technicality bolsters her resolve.

Karen sets a trap to lure Doob into her home, so that she can say killing him was self-defense. It works. After she shoots Doob dead and calls the police. Denillo arrives and tells Karen that he knows the truth and that she hasn't fooled him, to which she replies "prove it". He decides to tell his colleague that it was a "clear case of self-defense". When her husband arrives, he sits beside her, holding her hand, knowing what she has done.


Critical reception

Eye for an Eye currently holds an 8% rating on Rotten Tomatoes based on 36 reviews, indicating negative reviews.

See also


External links