Alpha Dog

Film, Drama
  • 4 out of 5 stars
(4user reviews)
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Alpha Dog
Currently awaiting trial for ordering the murder of a 15-year-old whose half-brother had run up dope debts, the improbably monikered Jesse James Hollywood has his story told in this overly familiar cautionary tale. Twenty at the time of the killing, the accused was a successful LA drugs dealer, and this screen version largely sticks to the facts but dubs Emile Hirsch’s central character ‘Johnny Truelove’. Are there moral lessons to be drawn from this appalling waste of life? Well, yes, but director Cassavetes (son of John) can only come up with the usual platitudes about bad parents – that’s Bruce Willis as the ne’er-do-well pater – letting their offspring go astray, and today’s young people being immoral hedonists who’ll suffer in the end for their excesses. Tsk tsk.

Hardly revelatory fare then, and were it not for the dutiful logging of the case details you might suspect the film of lingering pruriently over the lifestyle excesses on view. The very least you can say is that it offers ample opportunity for its young cast to hang tough, unpersuasively in the case of Hirsch’s whiny lead, though Justin Timberlake is actually rather good as his feckless best mate, who has inklings that he’s doing wrong but hasn’t got it together enough to act on them. Anton Yelchin, meanwhile, proves suitably touching as the doomed hostage (who, with sledgehammer irony, has the time of his life in their custody). Larry Clark’s ‘Bully’ brought a pointed approach to its true-crime story, unmatched here in a movie which has been put together with occasional skill but lacks a compelling reason to exist.

By: Trevor Johnston


Release details

Rated: 15
Release date: Friday April 20 2007
Duration: 117 mins

Cast and crew

Director: Nick Cassavetes
Screenwriter: Nick Cassavetes
Cast: Ben Foster
Shawn Hatosy
Emile Hirsch
Sharon Stone
Justin Timberlake
Anton Yelchin
Bruce Willis
Christopher George Marquette
1 person listening

Good movie a bit sadly this is a real history but the bad guy always lost, Actor's great work and a real good selection.


Good movie a bit sadly this is a real history but the bad guy always lost, Actor's great work and a real good selection.


Did director Nick Cassavetes, who , by the way, hasn't got one hundreth of his father's talent, try to make fun of any viewer with some brains? After watching this obnoxious and nauseating oiece of shit, I really tend to think: yes. If we examine this Z-graded flick carefully, there is no doubt that his goal was purely exploitative, trying to arouse sympathy for a bunch of completely degenerated scumbags, and attract young audiences in order to put some money in his pockets: first of all, the fact that during the movie, he provides some details of various witnesses who saw one element of what happened at a given time only serves as a mere excuse to try to look 'objective', as if he were to provide some account of what happened or to try to explain it. But any attempt in this direction stops at this point. All the rest is a disgusting and clearly complacent display of the behaviour of completely degenerated characters who think they are like the kings of the world and the very essence of virility. But they are not: on the contrary,they are fundamentally just a bunch of coward sissies, who, after having kidnapped an innocent young man, are unable to cope with the fact that they will be charged with kidnapping, and so decide in cold blood to kill him. Because, of course, it takes some balls to face real men like bank robbers in jail and get beaten by them, and these balls they never had: it was much easier to kill a defenceless 18-year old boy, hoping you will not get discovered. As for the aspect that the victim had 'the time of his life' during his captivity, I clearly doubt it. This is another way of excusing the actions of these coward jerks, even to glamourize them. To sum up, this is a clearly exploitative and totally nonobjective way of telling a story, which definitely goes in the wrong direction, that of making the viewer sympathize, not with the victim but the kidnappers. But, very hopefully, they got caught and the only thing that fills me up with joy is the hope that other inmates in jail will beat the hell out of them!!! P.S. Moreover, Justin Trousersnake, as one of the Tiemout reviewers named him in another review, is pathetic:

Mathew Speakman

I thought this movie was amazing. I'd recommend anyone to see this movie. i thougfht the acting was fantastic, the emotion shown from Anton was superb and believable, it actually made me upset watching the plot unfold. a gripping movie and a must see. I didnt know the case before i watched the movie so from that point of view the story with out the background knowledge left the ending a shocker. however if you already know the ending i can imagine the film being tedious. keep and open mind TIMEOUT!!!!!