The Pledge

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Adapted from a book by Friedrich Dürrenmatt, Penn's cop thriller-cum-psycho-drama is ambitious but deeply flawed. Nicholson is mostly impressive as the cop whose retirement is effectively blown by the news of the horrendous killing of an eight-year-old girl. But Penn's occasionally flashy direction of a contrived, often clichéd script all too happy to toss in a shoal of red herrings progressively undermines his efforts as the story (literally) unravels. It's just about credible that the cop would stand by his promise to the dead girl's mother to solve the mystery, but by the time he encounters Del Toro's retarded redskin (dubious indeed) and Mirren's psychologist (who profiles the murderer and his probable future actions after looking at the child's painting!), we're deep into movie madness, and the rest is hokum. Chris Menges' camerawork, however, remains effective.

Release details

Duration: 124 mins

Cast and crew

Director: Sean Penn
Screenwriter: Jerzy Kromolowski, Mary Olson-Kromolowski
Cast: Jack Nicholson
Aaron Eckhart
Benicio Del Toro
Vanessa Redgrave
Tom Noonan
Harry Dean Stanton
Mickey Rourke
Robin Wright Penn
Sam Shepard
Lois Smith
Helen Mirren
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