This isn't a crowd pleaser, a Hollywood cop-out nor a blockbuster pushing all the PR buttons. This is hard hitting and gritty. With a real and an important tale to tell. Whilst the story of Derek Vinyard (Norton) from regular teen to a prominent white supremacist group member may be fiction in the film, it is reality all over the western world. The power of the film derives from it simply revealing the most common avenue of this kind of behaviour. It doesn't have any of the answers, and it doesn't pretend to. It just shows you the issue and allows you the space to come to your own conclusions. Making it all the more powerful in my opinion.
A technically superb film with a masterful work of acting from all involved, a great watch. I certainly sensed that the actors were aware of the depth of the film and duly played it with the respect it deserved. Edward Norton shines especially, subtle emotional expressions, sometimes playful and often sinister. Captivating. And talking of sinister, one of the best presences on screen is the Cameron (Stacy Keach) character, the benign head of the local white supremacist group. Probably the most unsettling character, simultaneously the most vile and hate-mongering whilst also being the most cowardly, recruiting vulnerable young men to apply his hate in the form of violence on his behalf. Unforgettable.
Some elements that could, and should, have been expanded upon were the transition of Derek whilst in the prison system and being mentored by his old teacher. And I felt that the brother, Danny (Edward Furlong), was too easily convinced to follow his brother and deserved to be delved into a little deeper. I would imagine time constraints were the main reason for some plot lines not being followed up. Still a shame though.
The Blu-ray quality was great, but not fantastic. Certainly much superior to the DVD version. And the extras are quite pathetic really. A couple of deleted scenes and the subtitles. It warrants so much more. A shame really.
If you enjoy a movie that changes the prism of your world view (however large or small that change may be), then I whole-heartedly recommend American History X.