Reviewed by Andy Bowers
Rating: 5.5 Beans
ack Nicholson, who resembles a pug that's been shaved too close in order to cure a bad case of mange, stars in this psychological thriller directed by Sean Penn (thriller in Penn's dictionary are in fact long winded dramas - i.e.: the Crossing Guard, Indian Runner) .
In it, Nicholson makes a promise to a grieving mother that he'll bring the killer of her child to justice, at any cost and no matter how long it takes.
The problem is that he's on the verge of retirement, looking to take a long vacation and maybe get laid. Viagra's not cheap you know. Neither are non-refundable air-line tickets. Is it that he loves his job that much? Does he fear retirement as it may represent his own mortality? Maybe he's nuttier than a "Mr. Goodbar" ? That's never truly revealed properly.
Sticking around his hick town he meets and soon falls in love with a dowdy, black-toothed, trailer-park Lolita (I realize Robin Wright-Penn is in her 30's but compared to Jack's time-line, I think the Lolita label can stick) She has a daughter of her own who Nicholson figures he can use as bait to lure the elusive killer out of hiding. (there are too many red-herring character to mention - it's like a confusing game of Where's Waldo?)
The Pledge goes wrong in many ways and very quickly. At first I thought I was watching a boring National Geographic special since Penn seems to have developed some unsavory lust for wild-life footage. I didn't attempt any deep meaning exploration as to symbolism or metaphors. Boring, lingering shots are just that. Maybe if a coyote was chasing a rabbit. Or two hillbillies were wrestling perhaps I'd have given a damn.
An un-satisfying ending also plagues the Pledge(which you enjoy twice since it starts the flick too). I guess if I can recommend it for anything it's that "Squint Club" member Benicio Del Toro (what isn't he in these days?) plays a mentally challenged Indian who blows his brains out all over a jail cell wall reeaal good.
Thank God for that rewind button.
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