Alpha Dog

Film, Drama

Time Out says

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

Release date:
Friday April 20 2007
117 mins

Cast and crew

Nick Cassavetes
Nick Cassavetes
Ben Foster
Shawn Hatosy
Emile Hirsch
Sharon Stone
Justin Timberlake
Anton Yelchin
Bruce Willis
Christopher George Marquette
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