NOTE: This Spoiler was sent in by EdgeCrusher who says... "A beautiful and powerful drama." " Easily the Traffic of 2005, only this film covers racism, rather than drugs."
The movie starts off with a crime scene. A young man has been shot and detective Graham (Don Cheadle) has arrived at the scene to investigate. However, this was after his girlfriend/partner, Ria (Jennifer Esposito) was rear-ended by an Asian woman. The two mouth off at each otherboth being racist. We are now taken back to the beginning of the story.
Rick (Brendan Fraser) and his wife Jean (both white) are coming back from dinner. As they head towards their car, they see two young blacks (one named Anthony, played by Ludacris). The four are walking towards each other, and Jean (Sandra Bullock) gets nervous. Anthony can sense this from a distance and rants to his friend about racism. Throughout the movie we learn that Anthony cries racism at many situations (not being checked on by the waitress, taking public transportation, and the white conspiracy behind hip hop). He seems to have no problems with theft and violence towards whites, as he decides to carjack Rick and Jean. The couple is left visibly shaken.
Meanwhile, two officers named Ryan (Matt Dillon) and Hanson (Ryan Philippe) are on patrol. They are told to watch out for two young African Americans who have carjacked an SUV. They spot a black SUV, but the plates and driver description (besides also being black) do not match. Hanson tries to tell Ryan this, but Ryan pulls them over since a womans head emerges from the drivers lap. The couple, named Cameron and Christine (Thandie Newton), giggle about being caught and do not expect much trouble. However, Ryan acts very rude to them when he approaches and demands a sobriety test. Cameron seems fine, but Christine starts getting a little fresh back at officer Ryan. Officer Hanson seems uncomfortable with this situation and seems even a bit angry with Ryan. Ryan cuffs both of them and frisks Christine. He does so slowly and inappropriately, which angers the couple. Ryan lets the humiliated couple off with a warning. They go back home and fight. Christine feels violated and wants him to report the cop, but Cameron realizes they wont win this.
Back at Rick and Jeans we see the fallout from the carjacking. We learn that Rick is a district attorney, who is worried about what just happened. However, the source of his worry is that he doesnt want the situation to be big news because he thinks that being tough on finding these black kids will hurt him politically. He asks one of his workers to find him a black man to give a medal to, so he can keep his support up in the black community. Meanwhile, his wife Jean does not like the look of the Latino locksmith and yells at her husband about changing the locks a second time tomorrow so the gang-banger doesnt sell the keys to his amigos. Jean also acts very rude towards her Latin housekeeper.
Back at the station, Officer Hanson wants a new partner. He tells his lieutenant that he doesnt want any trouble with him, but if its necessary for the transfer, he will testify. However, the lieutenant tells him to forget it. He says it was hard as a black man to climb the ladder to where he is, so if he causes trouble within his own precinct, it makes everyone look bad. He makes Hanson claim he officially has a flatulence problem, therefore making him eligible to work without a partner due to personal reasons. It is the only way Hanson can escape from working with Ryan.
We now find ourselves in a gun shop where the owner is making it hard for a Persian man to obtain a handgun. The owner spouts off 9/11 references and other racial insensitivities. However, the Persian mans 30-something daughter is there to calm the situation and gets the gun for her father. She asks for a specific box of bullets (important later). The gunshop owner questions her about her choice.
The Persian man is a shop owner who needs the weapon in order to protect himself from racist bullies. Later on, in his shop, the owner has the same locksmith (named Daniel) over to fix the door to his store. Daniel fixes the lock but attempts to tell the shop owner that he also needs to have the actual door fixed or replaced. The shop owners English is not so great and he feels as if Daniel is trying to charge him more and refuses to pay for what hes done. Daniel storms off.
Afterwards Daniel comes back home to his wife and daughter. He lives a decent life in a bad neighborhood. He tucks his daughter into bed, who is afraid of the place ever since a stray bullet found its way through a window. Daniel eases her worry in a charming scene by giving her his imaginary cloak, which will now protect her.
While having sex with Ria, Graham gets a call from his mother. He takes the call and is not only rude to Ria, but also his mother. He also keeps referring to her as Mexican, when she is Puerto Rican. Graham goes alone to visit his mother, who wants him to find his brother (who is having problems with the law). As much as Graham cares for his mother, he seems indifferent to the idea of his brother. Graham later goes to meet Rick and discuss a troubling situation. After finding some stolen money and corruption within the force, they are left with a difficult situation. It takes a while to tell, but basically Graham reluctantly lies, as does Rick. They do this in order to incriminate a dead and innocent white officer, so the white district attorney seems black friendly.
Anthony and his friend drive the car to a chop shop but run over a Chinese man in the process. They panic and dump him (still alive) at the emergency room entrance. Because of the accident, they cannot get anything for the car. The next day, they see a similar SUV and decide to take it. However, we learn that Cameron (alone and still on the outs with the wife) is in the car. They yell at him to get out, but Cameron snaps after what has happened to him. He commences to beat the hell out of Anthony, leaving his friend afraid to pull the trigger. The cops start to arrive, so Anthonys friend leaves on foot. Anthony tries to enter through the passenger side of the SUV, but Cameron enters through the drivers side. Anthony is dumbfounded that this is going wrong and threatens to shoot Cameron, but he just drives off (with the cops in pursuit) and dares Anthony to do it. He cant and Cameron snatches the gun from his hand. They are pulled over by several officers (who dont see Anthony in the car), including Hanson. Cameron walks out of his car with the gun tucked behind him in his pants. He approaches the officers who tell him to freeze. Hanson realizes who this is and claims he is his friend. Cameron is still crazed and appears ready to make the situation ugly. Hanson tried his best to calm him down, knowing what he went through the other day. He convinces him to calm down and drive away with a stiff warning. The other officers (and Anthony) cant understand why they arent taking him in. The only ones who really understand are Hanson, Cameron, and the audience.
The Persian shop owner starts the day, only to see his place torn up. He tries to get insurance out of it, only to learn he wont because of negligence. He is told its because the door wasnt fixed. The owner becomes angry and decides to kill Daniel. He finds out where he lives and tries to take his truck as payment. He holds him up at gunpoint outside his house. He starts yelling at him, saying he ruined his life. His daughter gets scared and thinking that her magic cloak works, runs to protect her dad. She leaps into her fathers arms. The shop owner is startled and fires one round. Everyone starts panickingthinking the little girl has been shot. We discover later that the owner's daughter loaded the gun with blanks, knowing her father was a little crazy. He goes back to his shop and cries, believing the little girl is an angel who has taught him a lesson.
Cameron drives Anthony to a corner and drops him off, but not before saying youre an embarrassment. Anthony walks and Cameron drives off. Anthony realizes that when he hit the Chinese man, the man dropped the keys to his van. He decides to steal the van and sell it to the chop shop. However, when they look at the back, they see refugees from China and other East Asian countries. The chop shop owner says hell sell them (the people). Anthony seems disturbed by this.
Officer Ryan approaches a crash scene and tries to help out. One of the cars is flipped over and will go up in flames any minute. Ryan goes to help the woman out, only to lock eyes with her. The woman in the car is Christine. She flips out and doesnt want his help. We can tell Ryan feels like a jerk but he coaxes her into letting him help. He is able to get her out in time, before the car explodes. He holds her safely in his arms as she sobs.
Meanwhile, office Hanson (off duty) picks up a hitchhiker (Anthonys friend) and they have a friendly chat at first. However, they start getting at each others nerves quickly. He starts laughing, realizing he has the same religious dashboard figure of office Hanson in his pocket (but doesnt say why he is laughing). Hanson gets annoyed, thinking he is laughing at him. He attempts to kick him out of his car. However, Anthonys friend reaches into his pocket to take out the similar looking figure (which he finds so amusing). Hanson freaks out and shoots him. He then realizes what a mistake hes made and in fear, leaves the body on the road.
We now approach the beginning scene. Graham arrives at the scene and sees the body on the road. We realize it is Grahams brother. We cut to Grahams mother crying. Graham says he will find out who did it. His mother says, you did, by not caring enough to find him. Graham is left to reflect the events throughout the last few days.
As Cameron drives, he sees a group of kids throwing things at a burning car (Hanson abandoned the car after setting it on fire) to keep warm, as we see flurries in Los Angeles. He gets a call from his wife Christine. He smiles, tells her he loves her and will be home soon.
Jean admits to her friend that she needs help overcoming her anger, and even starts to warm up to her housekeeper.
Daniel sleeps safely next to his daughter and we even learn the Chinese man who was hit by Anthony will be ok.
Anthony meanwhile does the right thing by taking the immigrants to Chinatown, giving them $40 and walking away.
The movie ends with a fender bender. A black woman and Hispanic man argue at the scene and it becomes racial. The situation comes across as very humorous after all the more serious events in the movies. Zoom out and credits.
*CUT TO THE CHASE*
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The movie had started with a couple of cops, Officers Waters and Ria (Don Cheadle and Jennifer Esposito) arriving at a scene where a dead body was found. The body belongs to Peter (Larenz Tate), one of the two carjackers who assaulted Rick (Brendan Fraser) and Jean (Sandra Bullock) earlier. Jean, after tripping and falling through the stairs, twisting her ankle, overcomes her bigotry and recognizes that her Hispanic maid Maria (Yomi Perry) is the only person -possibly, beside her husband- who has always been there for her; they both embrace.
Racist Officer Ryan (Matt Dillon) ends up rescuing Christine (Thandie Newton), whom he had harrassed sexually, from an explosion, thus somehow revindicating his attitude. At the same time, his former partner, Officer Hanson (Ryan Phillippe) rescues Christine's husband, film producer Cameron (Terrence D. Howard), from being wrongfully gunned down by other cops, after he fiercely confronts Peter and his buddy
Anthony (Ludacris) and is mistaken for a carjacker himself. The Persian storeowner, enraged for being robbed and finding out his insurance won't pay him back, decides that Mexican locksmith Daniel (Michael Peña) had something to do with it, and grabs his gun and goes to Daniel's house to kill him. In the middle of the confrontation, Daniel's little daughter comes out as the storeowner fires (big shock!!) and it seems like he shot the girl, but she miraculously survives unharmed; later on, it turns out that the storeowner's daughter, Durri (Bahar Soomekh) had put blanks in the gun, because she knew how volatile her father was.
Peter grabs a ride from Officer Hanson; while riding together, a race-issued misunderstanding comes up and it ends with Hanson accidentally shooting Peter in the chest; scared, Hanson tosses Peter's body off his car, and sets the car on fire, abandoning it. Later, Cameron passes by that area, walking, and calls his wife Christine, thus making up with her after they had estranged from each other since the harrassment incident.
Carjacker Anthony picks up the vehicle from the Korean guy he had accidentally run over earlier and, when he tries to have it sold, he discovers the back was packed with Oriental illegal immigrants. The Korean guy was obviously a human trafficker; his wife comes to the hospital Emergency Room looking for him, and he instructs her to immediately cash a check he had received. Anthony releases the illegals in the middle of Chinatown, and, at the same time, as the movie ends, we see social worker Shaneequa (Loretta Devine) arguing with someone who has just CRASHED into the back of her car.
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