"You know who I hate? Faggots. Because they hate women." When Glenna (Julia Stiles) says this, it's a casual admission; something tossed off in the down moments of a one-night stand. It's a confession to a near total stranger that presumably won't cause any ripples in her real life, or ever be mentioned again. But Edmond (William H. Macy) is way ahead of her. Before meeting Glenna tonight, he knocked the teeth of a black man all over an alley in Times Square, and considered it a victory not just for himself but for what he views as the long-suffering white race. What luck, that he's found a kindred spirit he can tell his story to, detail by detail! Edmond is David Mamet's contribution to that strange film genre that dates back to John Ford's The Searchers, in which a lonely anti-hero's expectations of how things should be racially-wise, sexual propriety-wise, and otherwise-wise, must be adhered to by the rest of the world, lest he go completely schizoid.
Despite the considerable violence Edmond eventually racks up, Mamet's motormouthed version of Travis Bickle ends up coming off more like the world's most annoying bar patron than someone truly menacing. His pathos is inherently comedic, even if the filmmakers don't want it to be. His bete noire, we find out, isn't really blacks or women or city life, but high prices! Repeatedly thwarted in his attempt to find a low-priced call girl, Edmond at one point becomes enraged when a peep-show stripper is unable to make change for ten dollars from behind her glass window. "Give me the ten dollars! Give me the ten dollars!" Edmond yells, exasperated at how he ended up at such a moment in his life. The arguing of these two characters is so absurd that it almost saves the rest of the film, which is plodding, labored, and ultimately too theatrically-grounded for its own good.