Before you torch your computer in a fit of rage, realize that we, like you, very much enjoyed this movie. We truly found it thought-provoking, but now that we've wiped the salty tears out of our eyes, we see we had no choice but to find it that way.

The hard-hitting message of racism's inherent evil is massaged in at every turn, and even Edward Norton's compelling portrayal of neo-nazi Derek can't distract from the continual contrivances used to drive the weight of his life-changing transformation from ardent racist to equality advocate home.

The film sets us up for the punch line with a non-linear narrative that uses a "class" as the framework to teach us a lesson, and punctuates it with black-and-white flashbacks (c'mon now!) that obviously allude to Derek's formerly flawed way of looking at the world. When we're in color (he's seen the light!), Derek's bigoted attitude is tidily solved after three years in prison (is that all a curb-stomp gets you?) after a black inmate is friendly in the laundry room (and, when his own white supremacist "brothers" rape him when he calls them out for being more drug dealers, less white warriors). Cue too-easily-achieved ah-ha moment! 

American X may confront uneasy truths, but it arrives at its brutal end via manipulated, often hackneyed means, making the lesson it carries a forced take-away, rather than the deftly told cautionary tale it could have been, had it trusted us to draw conclusions on our own.