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I know many people who felt let down by this film, possibly because they expected the usual chase and hero's triumph at the end, which does not happen here. I found myself to be curious and somehow astonished by the end, and anxious to see it again.
Jack Nicholson gives one of his best latter-day performances here, and touches on areas which are not normally "Jack". By the end of the film, he is stunned and totally confused; knowing he was somehow right, though strange twists of fate conspire against him. It's almost Hitchcock territory; the man wrongly accused, or the man who knows all the facts, and yet no one believes him.
Sean Penn is no clown director; he's not making mass-market cheap thrill flicks here. He lets the story develop with a total absence of Hollywood cliches and setups. By the end, though most people will feel somehow cheated out of a visceral release, I feel viewers with an open mind who don't expect their movies to be served up like fast-food will be quite pleased. It's one of those movies you can talk about all night long.
The world-renowned author responsible for the ending of this tale of a retired cop on the trail of a serial killer of blond little girls in red dresses is none other than Swiss novelist and playwright Friedrich Dürrenmatt who wrote the novel from which the screen play was adapted.
The "pledge" in the title is that of just-retiring Reno, Nevada cop Jerry Black (Jack Nicholson) who is not convinced that a confession by a mentally-disturbed Native American, played convincingly by Benicio Del Toro, is genuine. Jerry Black gives his word to the mother of the murdered little girl that he will find the killer. However, he is no longer on the force and gets only intermittent help from his colleagues who think he has gone a little daffy. Nicholson, as usual, totally becomes the character he is playing and gives an outstanding performance. He is assisted by Aaron Eckhart who plays the detective who got the "confession," and by Robin Wright Penn who plays Lori, the mother of another little girl.
The direction by Sean Penn is uncluttered, focused and visually astute. For example, note the way the little girl playing in the swings between the highway and the gas station affects our expectation of what is to come. Penn also captures well the high country atmosphere around Reno, Nevada and attendant lifestyles, and for the most part keeps his auteur ambitions secondary to the telling of the story.Read more ›
The movie is set supposedly in Reno and the surrounding Sierras, and the natural scenery that provides the stage for this drama is simply breath taking, and is worth the viewing experience for this experience alone. I was, however, disappointed to discover by viewing the end credits that the movie was largely shot in western Canada. Wherever it was filmed, the scenery provides a curious backdrop to the ugliness and sordidness of human beings, and how their own experiences and personalities blind them to the beauty in others around them. Each has been branded by the character and limitations of his or her own reservoir of emotional experiences, and each is consequently sent spinning toward a seemingly irrevocable tendency to make snap conclusions about complex realities as a result.
Thus Nicholson is caught in the dilemma of not only his own troubles, but in the easy answers others have in attributin ghis actions and behavior to other motives and problems.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Nicholson retires from being a detective, but becomes involved in a murder case that's reported during his retirement party. Mother asks him to pledge that he will find the killer. Read morePublished 1 month ago by Loyd Eskildson
This fifteen-year-old film with a good cast and starring Jack Nicholson who acts splendidly is great, well-worth watching. It was directed by Sean Penn. Read morePublished 5 months ago by Israel Drazin
Spoiler Alert: I thought this film was brilliant with subtle acting, heartbreaking aspects of humanity and beautiful cinematography. Read morePublished 8 months ago by Rolfer
Sean Penn delivers the goods 100%....based on a german novel, this is a true contemporary MASTERPIECE,with one of Jack Nicholson's most impressive performances, the final scene... Read morePublished 9 months ago by dadaloco
This movie has numerous echoes of "The Shining."
First "echo" is the camera-work, which films several scenes from overhead, showing Jack in the context of the... Read more