The Pledge (2001) Poster

(I) (2001)

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7/10
Unexpected
FunnyMann23 September 2001
Having seen "The Pledge" without knowing much about it, I got something other than what I bargained for. But that's not necessarily a bad thing.

If you're looking for a good whodunit, avoid this movie. If you're looking for a fast-paced thriller, avoid this movie. But if you're into seeing an intense character study bolstered by impressive acting and clever directing (kudos, Sean Penn), you've come to the right place.

I read one IMDB review calling this film Nicholson's worst ever. This is not true -- that reviewer obviously never saw "Man Trouble" -- but I can see why some folks really don't like this movie. It doesn't deliver what you'd expect, and what it does deliver is neither conventional nor uplifting. In fact, it's pretty depressing. But if you ponder the story afterward, you realize there's a certain dark justice at work here. Like, blacklight dark.

So then, "The Pledge" is not a light and frothy piece, but if you're the type who thinks watching some poor b**tard's descent into madness is entertainment, have at it.
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8/10
Gripping
rrailer11 January 2003
Faithful to the book in most regards, the film is excellent, and Nicholson's performance is beyond reproach. While the denouement may have had issues (not with the point or the meaning, but rather the delivery), the film is still outstanding.

Nicholson's relationship with the girl (he is beautiful as an aged father) and his inexorable obsession with the murderer are perfect in the film. Sadly, Penn's pacing is inconsistent, as is the sense of "detective" that Duerenmatt was careful to give his novel: the film's heartbeat ranges from driving to rambling, and most thematically appropriate may have been a measured beat which is lacking here.

Nonetheless, the film is gripping, and captures the point, spirit and feel of the novel perfectly. It may not pull off the trick of being both faithful and profitable, but the film is true, and the acting impeccable.
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8/10
Slow & Powerful
shark-4313 February 2006
I had rather low expectations for The Pledge - even though I've admired Penn as an actor (Dead Man Walking, Racing With The Moon, etc.) I really didn't care much for his writing/directing attempts (Indian Runner and The Crossing Guard) so I finally got around to watching this on cable and I was not prepared for how intriguing, intelligent and emotionally powerful the movie was. Yes, obviously, from other people's comments, this isn't every one's cup of tea. Fine. You want quickie thriller, wall to wall action - go watch Con Air or something. Popcorn movies are fine. People need to turn off their brains and escape every now and then (Unfortunately for big budget movies - its more NOW and very rarely THEN)> So that is why I really enjoyed the slow pace and the ambiguity of the plot - it left things out there for you to find, to discover, to ponder. Nicholson - who is so capable of just phoning it in lately or just doing a gig for a paycheck (Anger Management - YIKES!!!) - but here he really delivers a strong, aching performance. He is surrounded by excellent actors (especially Del Toro, Eckhart and a very impressive tiny scene from Mickey Rourke). I know there are huge fans of the German book and the movie - I will seek them out. But I have watched this film twice and it is even more powerful the second time. One CAN be driven mad by NEVER knowing something so ghastly, something so important.
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10/10
Fabulous - didn't want it to end!
astridlee24 January 2001
Sean Penn proves himself a first-rate director who gets moving, deep performances out of all his actors. And what a supporting cast - in addition to Nicholson (at his most subtle, something he doesn't always do), there's Harry Dean Stanton, Benecio Del Toro, Tom Noonan, Vanessa Redgrave, Robin Wright Penn, the list goes on and on with the best charactor actors around. Del Toro does something completely different once again. The story is very moving and almost at the level of a Greek tragedy. Beautifully shot and edited with good use of score. The best drama I've seen in quite a while.
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Superb drama. Top 5 of the decade so far without a doubt!
Infofreak8 March 2002
I have been an admirer of Sean Penn's previous directorial efforts ('The Indian Runner' and 'The Crossing Guard'), but he has really surpassed himself with this one. Re-teamed with Jack Nicholson he has helped that legendary actor create his best on screen performance since his 1970s peak ('Five Easy Pieces', 'Last Detail', 'Cuckoo's Nest', 'Marvin Gardens' et al). Nicholson has always been sensational but over the last ten years or so has sleepwalked his way through way too many movies, culminating in his irritating and mannered performance in the cliched and sentimental claptrap 'As Good As It Gets'. 'The Pledge' has obviously recharged his creative batteries. He is simply stunning in this film.

Nicholson is supported by a superlative array of actors, ranging from Aaron Eckhart ('The Company Of Men') and Sam Shepard ('The Right Stuff') to British vets Helen Mirren and Vanessa Redgrave, to Nicholson's old cronies Lois Smith ('Five Easy Pieces') and Harry Dean Stanton ('The Rebel Rousers'). While the cast is packed with familiar faces, none are gratuitous, all are first rate, and contribute to the overall excellence of the movie. Special mention must be made to the memorable cameos of Benicio Del Toro, and an as especially compelling performance by Mickey Rourke. Long underrated and often ridiculed, Rourke once again shows just how compelling he is as an actor.

'The Pledge' sticks out like a sore thumb in today's climate of wall to wall action movies, dumb comedies, and contrived "blockbusters". This is a real movie, with outstanding acting and a haunting story. Sadly fewer and fewer movies of this calibre are hitting the big screen, so treasure it!
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8/10
Jack Nicholson in a tormenting, riveting performance. ***1/2 out of four)
Movie-126 February 2001
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.
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9/10
A Haunting Film With A Great Soundtrack
ccthemovieman-13 November 2006
Unsatisfying endings usually make for box-office bombs and I suspect this one bombed, too. I don't particularly care for them, myself. I'd rather feel good at the end of the film, but I really liked this movie in a strange kind of way. It's weird but it's original and it stayed with me for several days afterward. On the second viewing, knowing what to expect, it didn't haunt me but it was worth that second look....and probably a third one in a few years, too. I didn't care for some of the anti-Christian tones in here, however. That is my only complaint of the movie. A key character - a minister - is made to look evil (typical film-world bias).

The rest of the film has a lot to offer: a great performance by Jack Nicholson; a very nice music score; good cinematography; interesting characters and a different, almost-shocking twist at the end.

The best part of the film is Nicholson. As usual, Jack is very interesting, playing a low-key role here. The story might be too slow for a lot of folks but it kept my interest all the way. On the second viewing, I appreciated the music even more - a great soundtrack!

If you are looking for a crime film that is different, check this out, but don't blame me if you don't like the ending.
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7/10
All the comments I read are equally, love it or hate it. I'll settle the dispute.
userscreenname28 August 2004
The Pledge is a....... good movie.

I see how people can dislike it, it is a kind of long movie, and you have to be patient with it. The ending is kind of frustrating to those seeking all the answers, but anyone with a fairly open mind will like it instantly.

The movie was good, I liked it, my mom and my little sister even liked it.

Sean Penn made sure not to try to win over a crown using the generic appeal, sex, gore, et cetera. He was very classy with this movie, good job on his part.

Acting was good throughout the movie, Jack Nicholson did a good job, I especially liked Benicio Del Toro's part, even though it was not too long.

I don't know, pretty much, it's a good movie, nothing out of the ball park. But it is worth the watch.
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7/10
It's great to see professionals at work
Alan-4031 December 2002
I'm not that crazy about the story, which has been put to film at least twice before. (I think the other movie is The Cold Light of Day.) In the other movie, which was set in one of the Soviet bloc countries, there was also a serial killer after young girls, and the detective makes the morally questionable decision to put a girlfriends daughter unknowingly at risk to use as bait. The swingset for the girl beside the road (where the killer would be sure to see her) was copied over from the novel.

For sheer moviemaking prowess, though, this team of actors and Penn as the director is unbeatable. Every performance comes across with perfect sincerity and you forget you are looking at famous actors. There are some surreal touches as well, when bit players from the early part show up on screen late in the story with non speaking roles.

Four stars. Even if you don't like Jack Nicholson.
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Not My Cup Of Tea
John Doe 31612 August 2002
I've wanted to see this movie for ages, so was overjoyed to get it on DVD. I've heard nothing but good reviews for it, so I was waiting with baited breath.

It started off at a slow, moody pace. I didn't have a problem with that. The slowly mounting sense of dread can be as effective as being thrown in the deep end of suspense. Things trudged along at this unhurried pace. I still sat and watched intently. It was just out of being good. I was thinking to myself "Any time now, the real meat of the plot's going to kick in."

Eventually, things looked like they were going to get interesting, a great story was about to come together by the looks of it. I thought that this was where it would start to get good. Then the credits started to roll up the screen.

I can see why some people would like this movie, but I for one found it very disappointing. I read that it was "Jack Nicholson's best role in years." They could have got Morgan Freeman, James Cromwell or Martin Sheen to play the same role. It was a generic character that wasn't really testing Nicholson. Sure, he was good in the role, but Jack Nicholson can be good in any role. This was nothing special, and a poor follow-up to his Oscar-winning performance in "As Good As It Gets" which is one of his best roles in years.

The only consolation I can get is that I didn't waste any money on this: I got it free with "The Shining": truly a fantastic Jack Nicholson movie.
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1/10
Absolute Torture
FargoFan26 January 2001
I guarantee that if you showed this movie on an airplane, people would

be leaping for the exit, only this time with grave results. Sean Penn

takes what could have been one of Jack Nicholson's best performances and

screws it up with the worst ending to a movie... EVER. It is beyond

bad. It is bad AND stupid. It is bad AND Stupid AND, it drags on for

about two minutes. You sit the in the theater for two hours getting

wrapped in a brilliant crime story, then, the movie takes a turn for the

worse-> It completely derails. This movie is absolute dysphoria. When

it comes out on video, put it in the masochism section, because that's

all it's good for:
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A poor vehicle for Jack Nicholson's talents
derrywilliams25 May 2003
Very slow, almost static in places. Many of the scenes lent the promise of being significant to the plot, but turned out to be just "padding". This could have been done in 30-40 minutes and might have been interesting as a result. As for the supporting cast, they don't come any better than Redgrave, Mirren, Rourke, Stanton et al but in this they were a waste of space. In short, good short story material overly stretched.
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Unbelievable
Michael_L_Stewart10 January 2003
Reviewers failed to recognize implausible psychology of the cop. The police inspector in the novel, according to the review in "Sight and Sound," simply wanted to catch the big fish and showed little feeling for the child he used as bait. Such a character is too repellent to make a movie about, so the movie version "humanizes" the character by making him become attached to the mother and child, and indicates that he is concerned that the monster will kill another child. This concern would place him in a moral dilemma: should he use the child as bait in order to prevent the monster from killing more children? The movie does not deal with this: it presents him as subject to a compulsion or something of the sort, which is not interesting. Inner conflict is not shown and his behavior is not explained. His evidence would have to be very strong to compel him to use the little girl as bait, and the other cops would never have joined his crazy scheme, for at least three reasons: first, they didn't accept his suspicions; secondly, no one with children would consider putting a child at risk; and thirdly, if the trap had resulted in harm to the little girl, they would all have had to move to another planet. The mom showed up and said, "How could you do this?," which is what the other cops would have said. Some reviews saw the cop's journey as a "descent into madness", which is about as good as you can do with it, I guess, but it just makes the cop crazy instead of evil. The movie does not illuminate or deal with the psychological or moral issues, which is to say the makers were in over their heads.
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1/10
Awful: DON'T SEE IT!
McCloskey228 August 2002
"The Pledge" starring Jack Nicholson and Robin Wright Penn and directed by her husband Sean Penn, is one of the worst movies I have ever seen.

The weak storyline is as follows: an aging cop named Jerry Black (Nicholson, in one of his worst movies) is retiring from the force. As he is leaving, the case of a murdered little girl pops up. Moved by the case, and making a pledge (hence the title) to the victim's parents that he will find the culprit of their daughter's killing, he undertakes the case on his own as an amateur. He finds links between several past unsolved murders of similar-looking little girls. Along the way he encounters a single mother (Wright Penn) and her daughter Chrissy, an apt candidate for another of the serial killer's murders. And Jerry is convinced there's something behind the first victim's drawing of a "giant" in the forest, porcupines, and a black station wagon.

It is an overused plot, that is tired and has been done so much better in other movies. Nicholson is a bit miscast, which doesn't help. I am a fan of his works and was sorely disappointed with this. I had heard nothing but good reviews of this movie, and was considerably excited to see it. At the beginning, it started out pretty well, even if it was a little slow. About an hour into it, it became tolerable, give or take a few pointless and strange scenes, and by the last forty-five minutes I was horribly sorry that I had wasted time and money on this ridiculous film.

The ending left me staring at the screen thinking "What was that?" and shaking my head at the prepostrous ending. Wright Penn, who was wonderful in such movies as "The Princess Bride", "Forrest Gump" and more recently "Unbreakable" gave a thoroughly forgettable performance.

A really splendid cast with the likes of Helen Mirren, Vanessa Redgrave, Harry Dean Stanton, Aaron Eckhart, Benicio Del Toro (whose all-too-brief performance saved the film from utter bombdom) and others whose talent and on-screen power should of enhanced this movie in some way instead came on screen and left without contributing. Only Sean Penn could direct such trash. 1/2 /*****.
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Very disappointing - 2 out of 10
Robdeneil17 February 2002
I had never heard of The Pledge when it appeared on my cable menu and, after watching it, I know why: It's a stinker of a movie. I watched it because of Jack Nicholson, who did in fact provide the movie's only redeeming trait of a riveting performance, but nonetheless I felt like I had wasted 2 hours when it was over. And for those of you who think "he just doesn't get it" because I missed a scene to go to the bathroom, that's not the case: I watched every scene, I understand the plot, and I can appreciate the tragic irony of the ending. But the movie is still a stinker. I could not recommend The Pledge to anyone.
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6/10
Think twice before you watch this one.
MartinHafer28 September 2018
My summary is NOT because I disliked "The Pledge". However, two things about the movie make it very tough viewing. The story is about a sicko who rapes and murders children. This is NOT an easy thing to watch. Additionally, there is an absolutely horrific scene...and my wife bailed on the movie following it...and she's not especially squeamish. You see what looks very real as a man shoots himself in the head...blood and all! Be forewarned...this is not an easy picture.

Jerry Black (Jack Nicholson) is a police chief who is retiring. His final case involves the rape and murder of a second grader...and he takes the parents anguish to heart and pledges to find the killer. Although he's now retired, he spends his retirement searching for the person responsible...and it appears as if they've killed several times already.

There is much more to the story than this and the bulk of the film is Black post-retirement...and his life and the plot unfolds very slowly and lovingly. You really like the guy and care for those around him. And, that brings me to a disappointing thing about the picture. I really loved it to this point (despite the suicide and the squicky plot)...the finale really felt unsatisfying and vague. The reasons for this are in the IMDB trivia...the studio ran out of money! This also might make it tough to watch...or at least frustrating. It's a real shame, as I really, really liked the performances and the actors deserved better.
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1/10
Dreadful!
ivorybow4 February 2002
My husband and I rented The Pledge last night, because of the great actors listed in it. It was without parallel the most depressing, demoralizing 2 hours we have spent in a very long time. If you want to watch a decent man methodically destroy himself and then go mad, with no hope of redemption or resolution...this is the movie for you. Yuck!
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4/10
Weak points and pessimism
overcaffeined19 July 2002
This movie has a couple of weak points. Unfortunately, such points are so weak that eclipse all the talent in the movie.

First of all, the movie has two clearly differentiated parts that just don't mix well (making a *very* different portrait of detective Jerry Black on each part). Maybe there's some will of creating contrast by concatenation of hope and tragedy in the same movie but, if that was the real will, the movie fails: it gets absurdity rather than contrast.

Secondly, the story is built from a serious promise. The scene where the promise is made is very disappointing because of the weak arguments, circumstances, and acting, for such a serious promise.

Also, as an additional comment, I wish to add that this movie shows a pessimistic view of the experienced old people. If you love stories where young people learn from old people, you may prefer other kind of films rather than this one.

I watched the original version of this movie when I was a child ("Es geschah am hellichten Tag" -- 1958), and I remember it as a very nice experience. I think I enjoyed it a lot, although I don't remember why (I was too young).

I've been very disappointed by this Hollywood remake.
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1/10
Next to Here On Earth, the worst movie of the year
baumer25 January 2001
I have seen a film like this before. It was only a couple of years ago that I sat in the theater against my better judgment and watched Nick Nolte get afflicted in his movie Affliction. It seems to happen once every few years. A-list actors do small pictures as a favour or as a way to try to garner some Oscar consideration. I'm not sure which one this was, probably the first, but whatever the reason Jack took this is not a noble enough reason to make anyone sit through this film. This story could have been told in about a half an hour. There was not enough material in here to garner a 100 minute film. The way it was turned into a standard length film was with a lot of fancy camera work that added at least an extra fifteen minutes to the film and the rest was just window dressing. This is the kind of film that oozes at a snails pace and asks its audience to maintain an interest, when there is nothing there to hold that interest. Sean Penn may be a good director, I don't know, but he certainly hasn't shown me anything with this film.

Jack plays Detective Jerry Black who is retiring and is at a retirement party thrown by the department. In a very well done scene, simultaneously, a young boy sees a scared looking Native American run out of the bushes. The young boy wanders off to take a look. This is the dead of winter in Nevada and the boy has to go through knee deep snow to find that of a seven year old girl that has been raped and murdered. The police are called upon to investigate and Jerry asks if he can go along, even though he has six hours until retirement. Jerry then has the dauntless task of informing the parents that their daughter has been killed. Once at the parents farm he makes a promise, the Pledge that the title refers to, to the mother and to God himself that he will find the killer. Soon thereafter, they pick up the Indian seen at the site of the murder and the police think they can get a confession out of the man in record time. His priors reads like a grocery list so the potential is there. The confession does come from him but he doesn't seem to lucid to what is being asked of him and then soon thereafter he kills himself. Case closed, but Jack has second thoughts. He does some digging and finds that in the last ten years there have been three cases that sound similar to this one and thinks that it is the same person. But no one buys it and Jack moves off and buys a gas station where he meets a young woman who has a daughter and they seem to fall in love and then at the end..... well, read the other reviews in here. It's the same thing. The story sounds good but it is executed very poorly. I didn't believe any of the characters. I didn't buy any of them doing what they did. The film moves too slowly and there are so many fillers that it is impossible to get any momentum going.

The Pledge is one of those films that is supposed to be categorized as 'ambitious' and 'important' and 'worthy' and not a 'sell out'. What all that really means is that it is boring, tedious and gets recognition from deteriorating film critics like Roger Ebert because it is Sean Penn. Penn may have been one of the best actors of his generation but that does not automatically catapult him into the likes of Tartantino and Stone and Spielberg. You have to pay your dues and every once in a while make a film that people care about. This is not that film.

1 out of 10- This is a bad film and one to avoid at all costs. It may be a City TV Late Great Movie one day and that should be the time to view it..... or if you have a bad case of insomnia.
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A big fat disappointment
gecko_andrew15 October 2001
This promised to be so much, it's just not. The story is a really good one, the direction and production by Sean Penn is fantastic the acting is outstanding (it's Jack Nicholson for heavens sakes!) but it just does nothing. Jack is the king of dramatic pauses but after the first hour they start looking like dramatic line forgetting.

The ending is so disappointing. If you like your movies slow like death why not rent it?
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9/10
Amazing the length some would-be reviewers will go to in an effort to further broadcast their own limitations!
uds322 June 2002
Mona Lisa is a face on a canvas? Believe THAT and all you will see here is Jack Nicholson looking "bored," Jack Nicholson reading a story book, dusty roads, flowers swaying in the breeze, shots of a county fair etc etc. IF, on the other hand, you are a person of awareness, romanticism, compassion, and most importantly UNDERSTANDING, aside from being in the rare minority, you might just see one of the greatest character studies in the history of film.

Sean Penn must have an enormous emotional depth to have come up with this deceptively simple tale of retiring detective Nicholson who in his last few hours on the force, is assigned to a brutal murder/sex assault case involving a little girl. He makes the pledge to the girl's mother that he will find the killer - whatever it takes!

No heroics here. No high-tech Police work, jive talking low-lifes, bad-ass cops, bimbos snorting coke....just Jack...being Jack..and NO-ONE does that quite like Nicholson. As sensitive a portrayal of an ultimately decent man consumed by a pledge he must honor as is imaginable. I rate it as arguably Nicholson's most poignant role. He is simply stunning. The supporting roles, filled by the cream of the "character acting fraternity" offer Tom Noonan, Mickey Rourke, Vanessa Redgrave and especially Benicio Del Toro the opportunity of acting most of today's A-List stars clear off the paddock!

Cinematography and attention to smalltown detail is inspired. Penn has infused so much creativity here that the film has a fully "personal" edge. You're expecting real Police action/Crime drama?...do your limited self a favor and give this a wide berth. I too found myself so utterly entranced by it all, I didn't want it to end either. In fact...DOES it? Some clown suggested the conclusion was ambiguous and open to interpretation. Well, I guess if you're stupid enough, thats true! Not a solitary winner here, no criminal brought to justice, no happy family Spielberg type ending...just Jack, alone with his tortured thoughts..and an audience hopefully alone with theirs!

Absolute unadulterated brilliance from beginning to end from just about every aspect of film-making. Composite viewer-rating of 7.0 I see, and Spiderman pulls 8.1? Certainly is a culture-conditioned and aware world we live in!
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9/10
3 perfect performances.
ShaeSpencer16 August 2020
Harrowing. The directing, cinematography, editing, and Nicholson's performance are all incredibly compelling.

Benicio del Toro and Mickey Rourke were haunting, in very different ways and in spite of (or because of?) their very limited time on screen. In his one (ONE!) scene, Rourke is just breathtaking. It's a moment that staggers me. The man conveys such a depth of suffering and anguish, such flashing fierceness and broken pride, all of it mingled with heartbreaking fragility and devastating despair. All in the space of a mere two minutes. It's one of the best moments of performance I've ever seen.
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4/10
Watchable, and a darn site better than `The Crossing Guard'
rob-23620 August 2003
Sean Penn and Jack Nicolson are reunited for the first time since the terribly boring `The Crossing Guard', yet even though I really didn't like the aforementioned I had heard that this film was very good so decided to watch anyway.

Attention to detail gets an `A' and in some parts it is very suspenseful, although after 2 hours of building the conclusion left me cheated, I really wanted to see more and the end left me with a bitter taste in my mouth.

Nicholson is good as the tired ex cop, who made a pledge to the mother of a murdered little girl, Aaron Eckhardt does well as the detective in charge of the case, while Robin Wright Penn, even made to look plain and unattractive, still has something quite sexual about her.

Bottom line:- Watchable and a darn site better than `The Crossing Guard'
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4/10
Disappointed
goosey722 December 2004
I was really hoping to like this film but felt let down the whole way through. The direction was tired and lazy and some of the camera effects pointless and unnecessary. Nicholson is an acting legend and if you have him in front of a camera you don't need effects or MTV-style slo-mo's, just point and shoot. Having said that this wasn't his greatest performance.

**Spoilers** It started going wrong for me at the beginning, the snowmobile cutting out right in front of the the Indian's truck. The reason being the kid gets off and takes off his helmet so we can see his shocked look when he see the girl. Poor I thought.

The whole Indian storyline at the beginning was a stretch, Del Toro did not convince me and the dialogue in the interrogation scene did not flow to get the confession, even taking into account Del Toro being mentally deficient. Jerry makes a point of getting fingerprints from the girl's jacket, but yet there's no mention of trying to match this to Del Toro's character, surely that would have been an easy way to see if he was the real killer? Other things that didn't work for me were 1. How easily he made the promise in the first place, 6 hours left to retirement and a longtime cop he should have known better. 2. His relationship with the mother. 3. His cop friends don't believe his story but yet they still manage to get 8 SWAT guys to do a stakeout and they only seem to stay a short while because its too hot. Get real. 4. Jerry's descent into madness, there are pointers throughout the film and yet he then just goes barking mad. The reason we're expected to believe this is he never caught the killer. Do we honestly expect that a death in a car crash is not going to be big news round a place like that? And that when Jerry sees the crash on the news he won't piece the whole thing together?? There are too many other things to mention.

For someone that enjoys slow paced, character built films this is a long way down my list and I'm amazed so many people liked it.
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10/10
A Concerted Winner!
TheBigSnack12 December 2016
Now retired police detective Jerry Black lives completely within the law.

In splendid character he very successfully uncovers the illegal acts of a deeply dark child killer. The glory of that career finale credit goes to him.

However, the story of the catch is completely lost to him and he is discredited and stripped of having a good side!

What makes a town a town, or a man a man? It is a chief person or object that makes each of them. They are no longer when they lose that which is exceptional.
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