Forest Whitaker plays a parolee, who finds Allah inside, and tries to get his life on track after 18 years. He's off to a good start with a job, a bank account, and a good woman. Of course his old partner in crime tries hard to get him to come back to his old ways, but the real problem is the sheriff in town who won't let him forget his dark past.Written by
Solid story with sufficient contents and ample interesting characters. Takes its time to develop and needs some trimming back in length and sub-plots
I saw this film at the Berlinale film festival 2014, where it was part of the official competition. It allows us sufficient time to get acquainted with the five main characters: (1) Garnett who is just released from prison after an 18 years sentence, (2) the sheriff whose deputy was killed by Garnett some 18 years ago, (3) an underworld-er who wants to enlist Garnett for a shady job, (4) Garnett's new girl friend who he met after his release while opening a bank account, and (5) last-but-not-least his assigned parole officer who takes her job very seriously, and even ruffles the sheriff's furs when the need arises. We also meet several side characters who are portrayed very well, in spite of their much shorter appearance. Yet, the full two hours running time stretches our patience unnecessarily.
The plot itself is not new in essence (ex-convict tries to keep on track), but this variant offers many novel directions given the ingredients included. The finale is not fully predictable, which is a good thing. Yet, I was not very satisfied with the chosen outcome (no details to avoid spoilers), preferably something more optimistic could be thought of. Further, I'm not sure about the need for some side tracking sub-plots, e.g. Garnett's conversion to Islam, the issues around the Mexican border, and amply showing off the landscape. Not all these are necessary for the core story, maybe even deemed redundant and better left out to get a more concise story.
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