Rated: R for language. Reviewed by: Jim Release date: April 5, 2013 Released by: Sony Pictures Classics
A new investigative thriller from Robert Redford The Conspirator is thoughtful and dynamic to a degree but runs out of steam in trying to dovetail politics and ethics.
Still, The Company You Keep is mostly watchable for the cast Redford has accommodated, from Shia LaBeouf Lawless and Anna Kendrick Pitch Perfect to screen veterans like Richard Jenkins The Visitor, Stanley Tucci and Susan Sarandon (both of Peter Jackson's The Lovely Bones.
A well-paced, if nagging storyline adapted from Neil Gordon's book by Lem Dobbs (having shown more spark from Dark City to the recent Haywire for Steven Soderbergh) revolves around Redford's former Weather Underground member now attorney and single father Jim Grant having to flee after being outed by LaBeouf's cocky, persistent Albany-based reporter Ben Shepard.
Redford and Dobbs set up an intriguing mood early on that offers nostalgia for 1970s examples of the genre, more appealing and penetrating in spite of the charm the prolific actor/filmmaker evinces behind and in front of the camera. One that will have more pull for older cineastes than their younger counterparts.
Here is a case of a sum not amounting to much more than some interesting parts. LaBeouf's Shepard is consumed by his ongoing probe of someone accused of being involved with the likes Sarandon's Sharon who has turned herself in for being in cahoots with the organization's terrorist act. Less action and more conversation builds a viable impetus even if Grant remains too much of an enigma for a while as he tries to exonerate himself. LaBeouf and Redford try to make the most of their particular screen images, but there appears to be too many forces working against them to give their characters the empathy which on paper at least they've fleshed out enough to deserve.
The interactions with FBI agents like a tenacious one played by Terrence Howard as well as a cop done by Brendan Gleeson, and more so, former colleague Mimi Lurie as delicately handled by Julie Christie (Away From Her) become more discouraging than heartfelt. Especially when it comes to the emphasis on the connection with Mimi that was intended to move the proceedings up a gear. Maybe like The Conspirator Redford's deliberation into a worthy, even prickly pursuit becomes more hackneyed and stolid than eclectic and enthralling.
|The Company You Keep||B-||C+||C+|