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The Pledge

3.4 out of 5 stars 263 customer reviews

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Product Details

  • Actors: Jack Nicholson, Benicio Del Toro, Patricia Clarkson, Beau Daniels, Dale Dickey
  • Directors: Sean Penn
  • Writers: Friedrich Dürrenmatt, Jerzy Kromolowski, Mary Olson-Kromolowski
  • Producers: Andrew Stevens, Brian W. Cook, Don Carmody, Elie Samaha
  • Format: Anamorphic, Closed-captioned, Color, Dolby, Widescreen, NTSC
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 5.1)
  • Subtitles: English, French
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated:
  • Studio: Warner Home Video
  • DVD Release Date: June 19, 2001
  • Run Time: 124 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 3.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (263 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B00005BCKG
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #21,415 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "The Pledge" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By A Customer on September 27, 2001
Format: DVD
Anyone expecting to find a formulaic cops-chase-killers movie should immediately move on to the latest Hollywood idiot fodder flick. "The Pledge" is intelligent, thought-provoking, well-directed, well-acted, and a feast for the senses.
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.
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Format: DVD
The ending of this movie, of which we see glimpses in the beginning, is an example of the sort of cosmic irony that some world-renown writers apply to human affairs. It is not the sort of thing usually seen in a movie of course, since the mass mind at which most movies are directed will find it dissatisfying, even irritating.

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.
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There is much to recommend in this complex and deeply layered psychological thriller featuring Jack Nicholson in what seems to have evolved into a continuing exploration into the dark side of human nature in his roles over the last decade. This is a gorgeously photographed and quite penetrating drama which on one level involves Nicholson as a dogged, troubled, and obsessed retired detective convinced the actual killer of his last gruesome juvenile homocide case is still at large, while on another level it is a stunning and all-too graphic portrait of what such single-minded concentration can do to a fragile and vulnerable personality. While it is not a movie I would recommend to the faint of heart, it is an absorbing exploration into this character's heart of darkness and the perils associated with such risky adventures.
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.
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Format: DVD
First, let me say that I consider Jack Nicholson to be one of most underrated actors of his generation. His performance in "The Pledge" is nothing short of remarkable, not so much in the way his speaks the dialogue, but in those moments when he has none, and reveals the mind of a deeply tormented man. Other reviews have discussed the plot, so I'll dispense with that, other than to say that this is a movie about redemption and a lost cause. The pledge referred to in the title is one that Nicholson cannot assuredly keep, and thus forfeits his "soul's salvation". The Nicholson character is basically a lonely, desperate man, who hangs his hopes on catching a serial killer, and by a twist of fate, fails in his mission. The supporting cast is excellent, Benecio Del Toro, Robin Wright Penn and even Vanessa Redgrave (one of the best performances in the film, although a brief one-scene cameo). Sean Penn's direction is superb, with the intercutting of nature scenes with the main plot (watch for the symbolic flock of birds throughout the film). This is not a film for those who desire neat, tied-up endings but ones which mirror the real and unresolved tragedies of life. Truly a haunting and poignant story, with excellent character studies all around.
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