The Pledge (S. Penn, 2001)

The Pledge (Sean Penn, 2001)

I saw this movie way back in high school and didn’t care for it. But after seeing a couple of other movies directed by Sean Penn, I decided this one needed another chance. It was better this time around, but still not as good as Penn’s other stuff. Penn uses a rather cliched setup of an old cop post-poning his retirement to solve one last case, and continues with a generic crime drama for the first hour. Frankly, I would have been for extreme cuts to the first hour, placing those cuts as flashbacks in the second hour, and expanding the character development.


During the second half, the film does become more about Nicholson’s character settling in to his life, but further development of his relationship with the woman he meets and her daughter would have greatly increased the overall quality of the film. Penn was great using the setting of a small, rural town in The Indian Runner, and bits of this film feel like that. Not enough of it is fleshed out though. Things are too rushed to ever really get that small town feel. Additionally there are too many red herrings and the case plot is treated as too important to the film. The film works best when it’s about the highs and lows of life as seen through the main character.  6.5/10


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