With her expertise in the study of violent behaviour, renowned psychologist, Dr. Amanda Tyler (Denise Richards), is approached by assistant D.A. Ben Woods (Columbus Short), to consult on the case of death row inmate Jackson Shea (Kaiwi Lyman-Mersereau) as they need to know if a stay of execution should be granted. Agreeing to interview him in the prison Amanda learns all about his past; the uncle who abused him as a child, his first sentence when as a teenager who bludgeoned that uncle to death and so on until the cold murder of Richard Morton (Bruce Dern) which led to his incarceration.
Well I am not entirely sure what the intention was with "American Violence" but the end result is a horribly cold performance from Denise Richards as Amanda Tyler, looking incredibly sour faced through almost the entire movie. And then there is a forgettable performance from Kaiwi Lyman-Mersereau due to a character which should be full of depth ending up being shockingly shallow. Oh and there are a handful of famous faces who crop in supporting roles but only end up as forgettable.
Because of the failure of the characters in "American Violence" to be engaging the story of Jackson's career as a criminal is simply not engaging. All you get is as string of criminal events in his life going from murdering his abuser to murdering the guy who murdered his partner in crime and so on with each job getting bigger and eventually leading to that murder which saw him caught. But that is it and it certainly isn't shocking enough to crab your attention or interesting either.
What this all boils down to is that "American Violence" ends up under par entertainment, struggling to draw you in to the story of Jackson's criminal life or any of the characters. And it is a shame as in a way this could have been entertaining in the same way as "American Gangster" was but it never makes it happen.