Pledge

Pledge

5.0 2
Director: Sean Penn

Cast: Jack Nicholson, Patricia Clarkson, Benicio Del Toro

     
 

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Sean Penn directed this tense drama of loyalty, honor, and obsession, based on a novel by Friedrich Durrenmatt. Jerry Black (Jack Nicholson) is a veteran police detective who lives and works in a small Nevada town. On the day of his retirement, it falls to Jerry to handle an especially unpleasant assignment -- a seven-year-old girl has been brutally murdered, and… See more details below

Overview

Sean Penn directed this tense drama of loyalty, honor, and obsession, based on a novel by Friedrich Durrenmatt. Jerry Black (Jack Nicholson) is a veteran police detective who lives and works in a small Nevada town. On the day of his retirement, it falls to Jerry to handle an especially unpleasant assignment -- a seven-year-old girl has been brutally murdered, and Jerry has to check out the crime scene, and then tell the girl's parents the awful news. The girl's mother (Patricia Clarkson), understandably distraught, demands to know if the killer will be brought to justice, and Jerry promises her that he will personally see to it, "on my soul's salvation." A younger detective also on the case, Stan Krolak (Aaron Eckhart), thinks he's traced the crime to Toby Jay Wadeneh (Benicio Del Toro), a mentally retarded man who confesses to the murder shortly before killing himself. Stan considers the case closed, but Jerry can't shake his belief that Toby Jay wasn't actually the murderer, and Jerry begins to investigate the case on his own time, over the objections of his former boss, Eric Pollack (Sam Shepard), who reminds Jerry that he's no longer an official member of the police force. Before long, Jerry's personal investigation has taken over his life, and he uncovers evidence that suggests the girl's murder was just one in a series of killings involving young girls and a mysterious man called "the Wizard." When Jerry becomes close to a young single mother, Lori (Robin Wright-Penn), he feels he has reason to believe the murderer may be targeting her eight-year-old daughter, and finds himself using her as a decoy in order to bring the killer to justice. The Pledge marked Jack Nicholson's second starring role in a film directed by Sean Penn following 1995's The Crossing Guard; The Pledge's stellar supporting cast includes Vanessa Redgrave, Helen Mirren, Harry Dean Stanton, and Mickey Rourke.

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Editorial Reviews

Barnes & Noble - Gregory Baird
Jack Nicholson delivers one of the most toned-down, understated performances of his career in The Pledge, a haunting character study/murder mystery from actor-turned-director Sean Penn (The Indian Runner). Nicholson plays Jerry Black, a retiring Nevada police detective whose transition into civilian life takes a strange detour when he makes a solemn oath to catch the rapist/murderer of a young girl. Though The Pledge begins as a traditional whodunit, don't expect a slew of plot twists and tense chase scenes. The Pledge soon sheds the conventions of the genre and moves slowly and hypnotically into a gradual exploration of Black's lone-wolf persona, as his post-cop life unfolds in the shadow of a promise that ultimately haunts him. Nicholson brings real subtlety to the role, working between the lines to portray the quiet distraction of a man leading a simple life tainted by a secret obsession. The stellar supporting cast includes Robin Wright Penn, Sam Shepard, Mickey Rourke, Vanessa Redgrave, Benicio Del Toro, and Helen Mirren, all of whom who bring some real thespian muscle to even the smallest roles. The result is a muted, somber film, flecked with tender moments but ultimately shrouded in a grim sense of mystery.
All Movie Guide - Karl Williams
The second collaboration between star Jack Nicholson and director Sean Penn results in a quiet, absorbing character study of the psychological effects of obsession. Nicholson is the great lion of cinematic acting, America's answer to Britain's rapidly disappearing Shakespearean luminaries. Here he earns his mantle once again with one of his best and most subtle performances, as a man stripped of power and respect, desperately clinging to both as he convinces himself he's upholding a sacred oath. If only the long string of distracting celebrity cameos in The Pledge could have been scotched. As one after another great performer shows up in the second act to gratefully deliver a single, finely honed scene opposite the legendary star ("Look! It's Mickey Rourke! There's Helen Mirren!"), the film's energy dissipates. Fortunately, Penn brings the film back on track and the third act once again becomes a riveting examination of Nicholson's increasing psychosis; without so much wasted time, however, his degeneration could have been better explained and more gradually introduced. The film is not a total success and it's less visual than it could be (with the exception of a striking scene set in a turkey farmhouse), but like Penn's previous films The Indian Runner (1991) and The Crossing Guard (1995), The Pledge is pure cinema -- deep, meaningful, and about something. The film itself and the talents involved are so good that it doesn't really have to be perfect.
New York Times - Stephen Holden
This attitude of despairing romantic machismo permeates Mr. Penn's finest screen performances (in "Hurlyburly" and "Dead Man Walking") as well as the three films he has directed. And in "The Pledge," the third and by far the finest of the three, it infuses almost every image with a mixture of sorrow and dread.... "The Pledge" is not a pleasant film, but it is deeply, scarily rewarding.

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Product Details

Release Date:
10/23/2001
UPC:
0085391905332
Original Release:
2001
Rating:
R
Source:
Warner Home Video

Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
Jack Nicholson Jerry Black
Patricia Clarkson Margret Larsen
Benicio Del Toro Toby Jay Wadenah
Dale Dickey Strom
Aaron Eckhart Stan Krolak
Costas Mandylor Monash Deputy
Helen Mirren Doctor
Tom Noonan Gary Jackson
Michael O'Keefe Duane Larson
Robin Wright Lori
Vanessa Redgrave Annalise Hansen
Pauline Roberts Chrissy
Mickey Rourke Jim Olstand
Sam Shepard Eric Pollack
Lois Smith Helen Jackson
Harry Dean Stanton Floyd Cage

Technical Credits
Sean Penn Director,Producer
Klaus Badelt Score Composer
Lesley Bole Set Decoration/Design
Jay Cassidy Editor
Brian Cook Associate Producer,Asst. Director
Michael Fitzgerald Producer
Bill Groom Production Designer
Helen Veronica Jarvis Art Director
Jerzy Kromolowski Screenwriter
Chris Menges Cinematographer
Mary Olson-Kromolowski Screenwriter
Don Phillips Casting
Elie Samaha Producer
Andrew Stevens Executive Producer
Rob Young Sound/Sound Designer
Hans Zimmer Score Composer

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