Directed by Sean Penn.
Written by Jerzy Kromolowski and Mary-Olson Kromolowski.
Based on a book by Friedrich Dürrenmatt.
Starring Jack Nicholson, Patricia Clarkson, Aaron Eckhart and
Benicio Del Toro.
Release Year: 2001
Review Date: 1/31/01
Another day, another flick!! As a bit of
stress relief, I decided to hit a flick on the way home from work
today over at the local multiplex. Realizing that the weekend ahead
is chock full of no new movies that I want to see, I went to the
Jack Nicholson thriller "The Pledge" since it had a pretty
In the film, detective Jerry Black
(Nicholson) is on the eve of his retirement from the police force in
Reno, Nevada. While celebrating his 30 years on the force, a call
comes in concerning a murder in a nearby forest, and even though
Jerry is on his way out he wants to help at the crime scene. It
seems that a nine-year-old girl was kidnapped and hacked to bits,
and the local police haven't told the parents yet so Jerry
volunteers to give the parents of the child the bad news. When the
parents make Jerry promise that he will catch the killer, Jerry
feels obligated to carry out the investigation to its conclusion, no
matter what the cost.
It is an interesting premise, even more so
for me, because I identify so much with Jerry's honor in following
through with the murder investigation. I only use the word
"promise" on occasions when I know I can deliver, and I hate
it--HATE it--when people say "I promise!" and nonchalantly don't
deliver the goods. Nicholson's performance is vintage, as he
deliberately speaks to cops, witnesses, associates and family
members in that familiar tone of voice about their knowledge of the
victim. And, naturally, he gets to go off the deep end a couple of
times as he gets more and more involved in the case. And, I don't
think Jack has looked the part quite as well as he does in this
film; as the almost-retired Black, the age, the extra pounds and his
piercing eyes all make for a great performance. And, director Sean
Penn (he does not appear in the film) has rounded up a great set of
actors to play bit parts in his film: Mickey Rourke (acting!),
Robin Wright Penn, Aaron Eckhart ("Erin Brockovich"), Vanessa Redgrave and the overworked Benicio del Toro all make appearances in
this film and it gives the movie great balance as you wait to see
who will show up next.
The story is based on a novel and it
features a slow-building development up to its intriguing
conclusion...but, it takes a while to get there, and by the time
Wright Penn shows up as an abused spouse halfway through the film,
things start to take a turn for the molasses. It picks up again by
the end, but I caught myself looking at my watch and that usually
tells me that a movie is a bit long in the tooth for its own good!
But, it is tense in many situations and the performances are so good
that you might forget about its length. This, however, is a film
that really could have used some laughs...it has plenty of drama and
some beautiful shots of the Nevada outdoors--Jerry is a recreational
angler--but nothing very light.
Highly recommended...although, don't expect
Rating: $8.25 Show
Comments? Drop me a line at
Bellview Rating System:
"Opening Weekend": This is
the highest rating a movie can receive. Reserved for movies that
exhibit the highest level of acting, plot, character development,
setting...or Salma Hayek. Not necessarily in that order.
"$X.XX Show": This price
changes each year due to the inflation of movie prices; currently,
it is the $9.50 Show. While not technically perfect, this is a
movie that will still entertain you at a very high level.
"Undercover Brother" falls into this category; it's no "Casablanca",
but you'll have a great time watching. The $9.50 Show won't win any
Oscars, but you'll be quoting lines from the thing for ages (see
"Matinee": An average movie
that merits no more than a $6.50 viewing at your local theater.
Seeing it for less than $9.50 will make you feel a lot better about
yourself. A movie like "Blue Crush" fits this category; you leave
the theater saying "That wasn't too bad...man, did you see that
Lakers game last night?"
"Rental": This rating
indicates a movie that you see in the previews and say to your
friend, "I'll be sure to miss that one." Mostly forgettable, you
couldn't lose too much by going to Hollywood Video and paying $3 to
watch it with your sig other, but you would only do that if the
video store was out of copies of "Ronin." If you can, see this
movie for free. This is what your TV Guide would give "one and a
"Hard Vice": This rating is
the bottom of the barrel. A movie that only six other human beings
have witnessed, this is the worst movie I have ever seen. A Shannon
Tweed "thriller," it is so bad as to be funny during almost every
one of its 84 minutes, and includes the worst ending ever put into a
movie. Marginally worse than "Cabin Boy", "The Avengers" or
"Leonard, Part 6", this rating means that you should avoid this
movie at all costs, or no costs, EVEN IF YOU CAN SEE IT FOR FREE!
(Warning: strong profanity will be used in all reviews of "Hard