Down 1,395 this week

The Pledge (I) (2001)

R  |   |  Crime, Drama, Mystery  |  19 January 2001 (USA)
Your rating:
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 -/10 X  
Ratings: 6.9/10 from 40,584 users   Metascore: 71/100
Reviews: 526 user | 150 critic | 33 from

A retiring police chief pledges to catch the killer of a young child.



(book), (screenplay), 1 more credit »
Watch Trailer
0Check in

Watch Now

From $2.99 on Amazon Video


Fall TV: 15 Returning TV Shows Worth Binge Watching

Which returning shows do we recommend binging on? We've picked out 15 great options for you. Read this and more lists in our Fall TV section.

Read our list

User Lists

Related lists from IMDb users

a list of 28 titles
created 16 Aug 2011
a list of 25 titles
created 31 Aug 2011
a list of 26 titles
created 10 Aug 2012
a list of 22 titles
created 6 months ago
a list of 25 titles
created 4 months ago

Related Items

Search for "The Pledge" on

Connect with IMDb

Share this Rating

Title: The Pledge (2001)

The Pledge (2001) on IMDb 6.9/10

Want to share IMDb's rating on your own site? Use the HTML below.

Take The Quiz!

Test your knowledge of The Pledge.
1 win & 6 nominations. See more awards »



Learn more

People who liked this also liked... 

    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.4/10 X  

Freddie Gale is a seedy jeweler who has sworn to kill the drunk driver who killed his little girl.

Director: Sean Penn
Stars: Jack Nicholson, David Morse, Anjelica Huston
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.2/10 X  

A Vietnam vet comes home to his small town and finds himself in conflict with rules that his brother has vowed to uphold.

Director: Sean Penn
Stars: David Morse, Viggo Mortensen, Valeria Golino
Wolf (1994)
Drama | Horror | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.2/10 X  

Publisher Will Randall becomes a werewolf and has to fight to keep his job.

Director: Mike Nichols
Stars: Jack Nicholson, Michelle Pfeiffer, James Spader
About Schmidt (2002)
Comedy | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.2/10 X  

A man upon retirement embarks on a journey to his estranged daughter's wedding only to discover more about himself and life than he ever expected.

Director: Alexander Payne
Stars: Jack Nicholson, Hope Davis, Dermot Mulroney
Comedy | Drama | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.8/10 X  

A single mother/waitress, a misanthropic author, and a gay artist form an unlikely friendship after the artist is in an accident.

Director: James L. Brooks
Stars: Jack Nicholson, Helen Hunt, Greg Kinnear
Comedy | Drama | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.7/10 X  

A swinger on the cusp of being a senior citizen with a taste for young women falls in love with an accomplished woman closer to his age.

Director: Nancy Meyers
Stars: Jack Nicholson, Diane Keaton, Keanu Reeves
Crime | Drama | Thriller
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.1/10 X  

A man who has failed as a father and husband commits a heist to make money for his fledging business, but things become complicated when his wife interferes.

Director: Bob Rafelson
Stars: Jack Nicholson, Michael Caine, Stephen Dorff
The Border (1982)
Crime | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.4/10 X  

A corrupted border agent decides to clean up his act when an impoverished woman's baby is put up for sale on the black market.

Director: Tony Richardson
Stars: Jack Nicholson, Harvey Keitel, Valerie Perrine
Comedy | Fantasy | Horror
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.5/10 X  

Three single women in a picturesque village have their wishes granted - at a cost - when a mysterious and flamboyant man arrives in their lives.

Director: George Miller
Stars: Jack Nicholson, Cher, Susan Sarandon
Traffic (2000)
Crime | Drama | Thriller
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.6/10 X  

A conservative judge is appointed by the President to spearhead America's escalating war against drugs, only to discover that his teenage daughter is a crack addict. Two DEA agents protect an informant. A jailed drug baron's wife attempts to carry on the family business.

Director: Steven Soderbergh
Stars: Michael Douglas, Benicio Del Toro, Catherine Zeta-Jones
The Two Jakes (1990)
Crime | Drama | Mystery
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.1/10 X  

The sequel to Chinatown (1974) finds Jake Gittes investigating adultery and murder... and the money that comes from oil.

Director: Jack Nicholson
Stars: Jack Nicholson, Harvey Keitel, Meg Tilly
Crime | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.6/10 X  

A nun, while comforting a convicted killer on death row, empathizes with both the killer and his victim's families.

Director: Tim Robbins
Stars: Susan Sarandon, Sean Penn, Robert Prosky


Cast overview, first billed only:
Beau Daniels ...
Wendy Morrow Donaldson ...
Resort Owner
Sheriff (as P. Adrien Dorval)
Shawn Henter ...
Bus Driver
Kathy Jensen ...
Store Clerk
Taryn Knowles ...
Monash Deputy
J.J. McColl ...
Real Estate Agent
Gordon May ...
Criminologist #1
Deputy #3 (as Gardinar Millar)


The night he retires as a Nevada sheriff, Jerry Black pledges to the mother of a murdered girl that he will find the killer. Jerry doesn't believe the police arrested the right man; he discovers this is the third incident in the area in the recent past with victims young, blond, pretty, and small for their age. So he buys an old gas station in the mountains near the crimes in order to search for a tall man who drives a black station wagon, gives toy porcupines as gifts, and calls himself the wizard: clues from a drawing by the dead girl. Jerry's solitary life gives way to friendship with a woman and her small, blond daughter. Has Jerry neglected something that may prove fatal? Written by <>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


Detective Jerry Black has made a promise he can't break, to catch a killer he can't find. See more »

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for strong violence and language | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:





Release Date:

19 January 2001 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Asesino oculto  »

Box Office


$45,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend:

$5,765,347 (USA) (19 January 2001)


£732,861 (UK) (9 November 2001)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

| |


Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


The picture was a passion project for writer/director Sean Penn and actor Jack Nicholson. Unfortunately, the screenplay was turned down by every major studio in Hollywood. Producer Elie Samaha, and his studio Franchise Pictures, who specialized in picking up screenplays in turnaround, quickly pounced on the material and signed up Penn and Nicholson for a reduced fee. The pair agreed as long as Penn could have complete creative and casting control. See more »


As Jerry cleans Lori's face with a cotton wool swab, it is blood red from her lip, but as he takes his hand away the swab is clean. See more »


[first lines]
Jerry Black: She said it. She said it. She did.
See more »

Crazy Credits

In memory of our Brothers In Arms Michael D. Haller and Jack Nitzsche See more »


Referenced in The Killing Floor (2007) See more »


Written by Ben Green
Performed by Flywheel
Courtesy of Rita Records Ltd.
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

This FAQ is empty. Add the first question.

User Reviews

Jack Nicholson in a tormenting, riveting performance. ***1/2 out of four)

THE PLEDGE / (2001) ***1/2 (out of four)

By Blake French:

Don't go to "The Pledge" expecting it to be a suspense thriller with a lot of fast-paced action and the tension peak high. By the misleading trailer and TV ads, I was personally expecting the above. "The Pledge," directed by the underrated actor and producer Sean Penn, is more of an unraveling drama than a genuine nail-biter. The film is a lot more than a conventional, run of the mill chiller. It vividly describes the process in which a person goes through before he reaches the state of insanity. The movie is most outwardly about obsession and commitment, more subtly about loneliness and depravity. This is one the most unusually absorbing movies of the new year.

Sean Penn is often overlooked as a Hollywood figure. He is an actor more often then he is a director (his most memorable directing feature was "The Crossing Guard"), but his work quite variegated. In 1998, Penn Portrayed a Sergeant in Terrence Malick's acclaimed war drama "The Thin Red Line," and a drug addicted Hollywood casting agent in "Hurlyburly." In 1997, he portrayed Michael Douglas' estranged brother in David Fincher's mystery thriller "The Game," and a down-on-his-luck drifter in Oliver Stone's gritty film noir "U-Turn." He delivered his most powerful performance in 1995 as a man on death row in "Dead Man Walking." Now, with "The Pledge" he is harrowing and intense, even though the script is often slow moving and monotonous. The stark edge and superior direction give the movie an authentic feel and emotional vigor. Sean Penn once again proves himself to be an excellent filmmaker especially behind the screen.

The enormously talented, Academy Award winner Jack Nicholson stars as the retiring Reno homicide detective Jerry Black. Jerry is a superb investigator, and when he examines his final case, the sexual assault and murder of an eight-year-old girl, he promises the victim's mother he will find the individual in charge of the atrocity. Police quickly bring in a mentally handicapped American Indian (Benicio Del Toro), who was found fleeing the crime scene and previously served time for rape and various other crimes. It appears that the officers found the man responsible, and when he confesses to the crime and kills himself, the other officers, including Jerry's friend, Stan (Aaron Eckhart), and their boss (Sam Shepard), consider this an open-shut case. Jerry has a gut-feeling this person is not who they are looking for, however.

The remainder of the movie is not about a police investigation, but more about Jerry Black's reaction to the events that have taken place. His obsession with catching the killer eventually leads to him going crazy, after he betrays his new friends, a single mother (Robin Wright Penn), and her young daughter. I personally desired more material involving the investigation instead of the development of the relationship between him and Robin Wright Penn's character, but that is not what the movie intended for us to watch. Regardless, the story arguably begins at its strongest point, and gradually losses much momentum as the mystery is not fully explored, and certain elements feel setup but are not paid off.

Some of the production's technical areas are also very astonishing, like the original music by Klaus Badelt and Hans Zimmer, and the cinematography by Chris Menges. Such ambient factors make for a sleepy and tranquil mood similar to the one in "Fargo." This film's soundtrack contains enthralling, refreshing, and captivating instrumental tones. Jack Nicholson is tormenting, riveting. He is the central of the movie, and it doesn't pretends otherwise. His performance provides energy for the story.

"The Pledge" is the type of movie that leaves us pondering about the opportunities passed by and the chances missed by the characters, the ironic coincidences, and the perplexing twists. The ending leaves us with more questions than answers, but that factor contributes greatly to the emotional impact the film has. "The Pledge" could have been more than it is, but considering the temptations the screenwriters overcame, it is more than what most of us would expect.

57 of 81 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

Message Boards

Recent Posts
The Ending... bdhendri
the interrogation with the indian guy? never_finding_land
Who Was Oliver? velvetwynter_2
Question about the car accident/ending Mc_chives
Didn't make sense to me aorourke55
Plot fail for new ending: No VIN #s? No dental records in 2001? jjordhalf
Discuss The Pledge (2001) on the IMDb message boards »

Contribute to This Page

Create a character page for: