Projections - Movie Reviews

The Pledge The Pledge

Sean Penn's third directorial venture is a terrific character study and he couldn't have a better actor than Jack Nicholson to bring that character to life.

Nicholson plays Jerry Black, a Reno homicide cop.  As the story opens, Black is at his retirement party with six hours left to his last work day, when a little girl's body is found in snowy woods.

Willing to work till the end, he goes to the scene and ends up notifying the girl's parents of the terrible news.  The girl's distraught mother urges Black to swear on a cross that her daughter made that he will find her killer, thus the title, The Pledge.  That pledge ends up being Black's obsession.

When the police think they have caught the killer and close the case, Black isn't convinced they have the right man and starts to investigate the murder on his own.

An old dinosaur of a detective, Black's style is of the old school.  He begins by interviewing the girl's grandmother and her little schoolmate; he takes time to track down the smallest lead, even one year after the murder, he doggedly searches for the killer.  And it takes a toll on the retired cop.

Twice divorced, drinking heavily and living alone, he becomes consumed with the case.  So much so, that he buys a business and takes up residence located between the murder that he promised to solve and another similar case of a murdered child.  He watches passing cars and scrutinizes local men, each one is a potential suspect in his eyes.

There is a large cast with some small but pivotal roles played by Mickey Rourke, Benicio Del Toro and Vanessa Redgrave.  Robin Wright Penn is splendid in a large role as a waitress who Black befriends.

This movie, without Nicholson, would be just another pretty good drama, but he totally envelopes this character and is a joy to watch.  Nicholson gives a mesmerizing performance and makes this a great film.

The Pledge

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