A family's moral codes are tested when Ray Tierney investigates a case that reveals an incendiary police corruption scandal involving his own brother-in-law. For Ray, the truth is revelatory, a Pandora's Box that threatens to upend not only the Tierney legacy but the entire NYPD.
Working in a Boston homeless shelter, Nick Flynn re-encounters his father, a con man and self-proclaimed poet. Sensing trouble in his own life, Nick wrestles with the notion of reaching out yet again to his dad.
Parole officer Jack Mabry (Robert De Niro) has only a few weeks left before retirement and wishes to finish out the cases he's been assigned. One such case is that of Gerald "Stone" Creeson (Edward Norton), a convicted arsonist who is up for parole. Jack is initially reluctant to indulge Stone in the coarse banter he wishes to pursue and feels little sympathy for the prisoner's pleads for an early release. Seeing little hope in convincing Jack himself, Stone arranges for his wife Lucetta (Milla Jovovich) to seduce the officer, but motives and intentions steadily blur amidst the passions and buried secrets of the corrupted players in this deadly game of deception. Written by
The Massie Twins
A prison psychologist (Robert DeNiro) has the final interview of his career, with a man called Stone (Edward Norton). Things get more complicated when Stone starts finding religion and Stone's wife (Milla Jovovich) uses her charms to influence the psychologist.
Other reviews have called this film "pretentious" and I am going to follow their lead. I feel like the story was going to go somewhere and just did not go there, or the writer had a message to share with us, but it was either missed or not as big as I expected. So, maybe pretentious is a harsh word, but until shown otherwise, I am going to go with it.
My other big problem with the film is that it is clearly called a "thriller" by pretty much everybody, and I do not know how that was placed on it. There are no thrills to this film. Suspense maybe, tension maybe... but no real thrills. It is a pretty tame film, more a drama than anything.
I feel that the film tries to explore spirituality and fails. There is a background of church radio, Stone's search for understanding, and some Bible passages... but I was waiting for it to come together and it really just did not ever do it. There was no firm Christian or anti-Christian message. There was some talk of morality, but it was very jaded.
DeNiro gives a great performance, Norton's is not top-notch (I never really believed he was what he appeared to be). Milla is tough to pinpoint. Some have called her performance "raw", but I think that is just a polite way of saying she gets naked. She plays her character well, but it is a shame to see her so dumb-down when she can play such strong, independent women.
I think this film meant well, and they gave it a good shot, but it just fell short in a bunch of places. The performances were not what I wanted to see, the story has enough holes that I do not feel it is complete or tells a story that goes somewhere. In the end, I felt empty inside. Whatever I was supposed to get out of this, I did not get.
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