Rated NR

Here's a weird one. The third film from director Sean Penn presents Jack Nicholson as a police detective on the verge of retirement who dedicates himself to finding a murderer of children. Sound clichéd? It's not; the film focuses on the erosive psychological effects of obsession instead of the rather more prurient aspects of the crimes, making for an interesting character study where one would expect a hoary old determined-cop thriller. Some unnecessarily tricky camera work early on is taxing, as is the film's glacial pace. But as would be expected from Penn, this is an actor's movie: Nicholson gives a great, understated performance, courageously refusing every opportunity to chew scenery, while Robin Wright Penn, Aaron Eckhart, and the ubiquitous and endlessly compelling Benicio Del Toro all shine in supporting roles. Though it's a little long for a film that can only occasionally be described as "taut," the strong performances and unusual treatment of a familiar subject make The Pledge worth a look.
Director: Sean Penn
Cast: Jack Nicholson, Benicio Del Toro, Dale Dickey, Aaron Eckhart, Tom Noonan, Vanessa Redgrave, Sam Shepard and Mickey Rourke


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