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At Close Range

3.9 out of 5 stars 402 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

A teenage farm boy looking for excitement finds himself on a collision course with his smooth-talking gang leader father in this "powerfully disturbing (Newsweek) tale based on the story of real-life killer Bruce Johnston. OscarÂ(r) winner* Sean Penn (Dead Man Walking) and OscarÂ(r) winner** Christopher Walken (Pulp Fiction) star in this "hot, horrifying saga of an American criminal family" (Los Angeles Times)! Juvenile delinquent Brad Whitewood, Jr. (Penn) knows about petty theft, but he wants big moneyenough to blow the lid off his boring life, enough to get out of town and to find his ol' man (Walken). He wants to be like his dad, a big-time thief, who knows "the business." Seductive and sinister, Brad's father is full of toxic wisdom that makes his illicit life appear eerily sexy. But when Brad witnesses his father deliberately killing someone, he realizes he may not only be in over his head he may also lose it for good. *2003: Actor, Mystic River **1978: Supporting Actor, The Deer Hunter

Special Features

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Product Details

  • Actors: Sean Penn, Christopher Walken, Mary Stuart Masterson, Candy Clark, Chris Penn
  • Directors: James Foley
  • Format: Anamorphic, Closed-captioned, Color, Full Screen, NTSC, Widescreen
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 2.0), French (Dolby Digital 2.0), Spanish (Dolby Digital 2.0)
  • Subtitles: Spanish, French
  • Dubbed: Spanish
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated:
    R
    Restricted
  • Studio: MGM (Video & DVD)
  • DVD Release Date: December 19, 2000
  • Run Time: 111 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (402 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B00004ZBVF
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #60,345 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "At Close Range" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: DVD Verified Purchase
The film purports to be based on true events. The saga of the Johnston gang, a "family" of burglars based in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania and reigned circa 1980 and then unfolded into murder happened while I was in high school. The story got big play in the Philadelphia region and some national coverage. Oddly enough this movie was filmed in Tennessee. Also noteworthy is that when this film was released in 1986 it didn't even get a theatrical run in Philly. I had to wait until it was released later that year on home video before I saw it. Bear in mind that at the time Sean Penn was not the esteemed Academy award winning actor he is now but was better known as Madonna's husband. Christopher Walken, despite the Oscar he won for "The Deer Hunter", was a marketing challenge for Hollywood. As for the film itself, it perfectly captures the essence of the events and the place it occurred. I worked near Lancaster County around that time and my late brother-in-law was from the area and came to Philly because the mills had closed there. You can imagine if you were a young person at that time the desolation you might feel and Penn perfectly captures that restlessness. You can also imagine how someone like him would be drawn to a charismatic, albeit evil, father figure as assayed here by Walken. Walken's Brad Sr. is one of his great portrayals in an impressive career. With little histrionics or tics Walken embodies evil incarnate. There is also an excellent supporting cast here with Mary Stuart Masterson as Penn's innocent girlfriend, Chris Penn and Crispin Glover as Penn's buddies, and Tracey Walter as Walken's brother as standouts. This is most definitely one of the better and more underrated films of the eighties. Credit should also go to director James Foley and scriptwriter Nicholas Kazan for not only delivering a powerhouse film but for also getting it right.
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Format: DVD
One of the best films of the 1980's, At Close Range tells the true story of the Johnston Family gang (changed here to Whitewood) which terrorized Delaware, Maryland and Pennsylvania in the 1970s by stealing tractor parts and generally being hoods. While the story may sound not too compelling, this film gets a huge boost from some great ensemble acting. This is the movie that got me over my aversion to Sean Penn and Christopher Walken delivers one of the most believably evil people in movies. I grew up in the town this all took place in and Bruce Johnston (Christopher Walken=Brad Whitewood) lived next door to my Uncle. And my Uncle said that Walken nailed this guy's persona. Scary Thought. What saves At Close Range from being just another crime movie is the flair that James Foley brings to the direction. It's often gorgeous, thank to Juan Ruiz Anchia's brilliant cinematography and in no small part to Patrick Leonard's haunting score, keyed to the melody of Live to Tell. How come there was never a soundtrack? Do yourself a favor, check it out and be reminded that evil does exist and in forms more insidious and banal than serial killers and possessed little girls.
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Format: DVD
At Close Range, which is based on a true-crime story from the 1980's, centers on the relationship between Brad Jr. (Sean Penn) and Brad Sr. (Christopher Walken). The younger Brad has a mess of a life, has no direction, and lives with his mom and a boyfriend who resents her pot-smoking grown children. Along with his brother Tommy (played by Penn's real-life brother, Chris Penn), Brad Jr. turns to his dad as a father-figure for an intro to the family business of small-time crime. Tensions run high has Brad Jr. is forced to faced the true demon his father is, and Brad Sr. has no qualms about hurting or murdering anyone, including Tommy (the bastard son) and his own son's girlfriend.

The is a gritty movie with great questions about family ties and what to do with your life when you have no real options. Most of the cast was relatively unknown at the time, so check out actors like Kiefer Sutherland, Crispin Glover, and Mary Stuart Masterson at the beginning of the careers.
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Format: DVD
Juvenile deliquent Brad Whitewood Jr ( Sean Penn), spends his time in a small town with his friends pulling off petty thefts for small time cash. However, Brad is getting sick of his boring life, and longs to make some serious money. Brad's father (Christopher Walken) is the leader of a serious gang of thieves. Brad has heard the rumors about his father, but never got a chance to know him. So he decides to leave his boring life behind, and sets out to find his father so that he can learn the tricks of the trade and become just like him. At first, Brad's father appears to be a good guy filled with plenty of wisdom and helpful hints on how to make it big. But when Brad witnesses his father intentionally kill someone, he realizes that he may be in over his head.
"At Close Range" is a great film. The story is based on the real life story of killer Bruce Johnson. With the acception of the character's names being chaged, the film features an accurate interpretation of events. It is truly a shame that no one really knows about this film. It features a powerful and emotional tale of an American criminal family. The film is very captivating and draws you in from the beginning. The story is great because it combines a somewhat touching look at a son getting to know his father, with an extremely well thought out crime story. This film emphasizes the term "appearances can be deceiving" because as the story goes on, Brad begins to learn what type of man his father really is. There is also a nice romance aspect to the story because Sean Penn's character meets and falls for a woman played by Mary Stuart Masterson.
Sean Penn and Christopher Walken offer two of their finest performances in this film, which is another reason why it is a shame that no one knows about this movie.
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