Before The Pledge started, I ducked into the
theatre next door to catch the Lord
of the Rings trailer which is playing in front of Thirteen
Days. It looks great. The cast, including Ian McKellen, Elijah
Wood and Cate Blanchett looks very promising. The only worrying thing
for purists is that the only line spoken in the trailer, by Galadriel to
Frodo, isn't from the book. It'll be hard to wait until December
19! Now where was I? Oh ya, The Pledge.
This is the story of a Police detective (Jack Nicholson) who on the day
of his retirement goes along to one last murder scene. The victim
is a young girl and while interviewing the girl's mother, Nicholson swears
to her that he will find the murderer. And so in the style of a classic
tragedy, Nicholson's pledge to the mother sets him on a course towards
his doom. He cancels his retirement fishing trip to work on the case even
though his former colleagues (Aaron Eckhart and Sam Shepard) are dubious.
They become even more negative after a suspect (an unrecognizable Benicio
Del Toro) is arrested for the crime and Nicholson claims that they got
the wrong guy. Nicholson has a theory that the murderer is
a serial killer who preys on young blond girls in red dresses. He
has found three such cases in a small geographical area and so he moves
there and buys the local gas station. He soon meets a local bartender
(Robin Wright) and when her husband beats her, she and her young daughter
move in with Nicholson. All is well for a while and it is not until
they are out shopping one day and Nicholson encourages the girl to get
a red dress that you realize that he is using her, perhaps unconsciously,
as bait to catch the murderer. You can see where all this is heading
but the end of the movie is a surprise and a very unsatisfying one at that.
It is neither the good or bad ending that you might imagine. As with
many tragedies, the hero is trapped by events and can't get out of the
way of them. So the moral of the story is just ``life sucks," which
isn't tremendously illuminating to me. I found this film to
be a big downer. I could hardly watch towards the end. It's
too bad because this may be one of Jack Nicholson's best performances ever.
He gives a very low-key, un-Jack-like performance. The Pledge
is the latest film to be directed by hollywood bad-boy, Sean Penn. It has
some similarities to his last outing, The
Crossing Guard which also starred Nicholson and Penn's wife, Robin
Wright. Penn gets good marks of getting the most out of his actors.
He seems to be a bit like Woody Allen. Everyone wants to do a bit part
in his movie. In The Pledge, actors doing cameos include Sam Shepard,
Helen Mirren, Mickey Rourke, Harry Dean Stanton and Vanessa Redgrave.
Unfortunately, they are only on-screen for a collective 10 minutes or so.
So the movie looks more interesting on paper than it is on the screen.
This is Nicholson's movie. He is in virtually every scene.
And he probably deserves an Oscar nomination but I can't really recommend