The Pledge
Mr Fixit. Jerry (Nicholson) helps Lori (Penn) put her life back together...
dir Sean Penn
scr Jerzy Kromolowski, Mary Olson-Kromolowski
with Jack Nicholson, Robin Wright Penn, Pauline Roberts, Aaron Eckhart, Tom Noonan, Benicio Del Toro, Sam Shepard, Helen Mirren, Vanessa Redgrave, Mickey Rourke, Harry Dean Stanton, Lois Smith, Michael O'Keefe, Patricia Clarkson, Costas Mandylor, Eileen Ryan
release US 19.Jan.01; UK 12.Oct.01
Warners 01/US 1h54

3 out of 5 stars
R E V I E W   B Y   R I C H   C L I N E
he made a promise This slow-burn thriller has a compelling story at its heart. But it's just so relentlessly sluggish that we never really jump on for the ride. Jerry (Nicholson) is a Reno cop on his last day at work when a little girl's body is found in the snow. He pledges her parents that he will find the killer, and then carries the case into his retirement, sure that his colleagues (Eckhart and Shepard) got the wrong man (Del Toro). Soon he moves nearer the crime scene so he can keep an eye on things, and is surprised to find himself drawn to a local waitress (Penn) who has a young daughter (Roberts) who might help him solve the case. But he'd never use the little girl to lure out the murderer, would he?

This mystery is actually Jerry's story--not a recounting of the case itself. And as such it's pretty powerful stuff. Nicholson is of course up to the task, giving a surprisingly subtle performance that makes the relationships believable and just a little disturbing. The astonishing supporting cast (most of whom are seen in one-scene cameos) add a bit of spot-the-star enjoyment to the otherwise unhurried narrative. And while it is extremely self-indulgent filmmaking, at least Penn is gifted at capturing telling details and finding the submerged energy in a scene, taking us down sideroads and straight into red herrings. And it also helps that the dazzling cinematography is by the skilful Chris Menges. But there's just so little oomph here that the film never reaches its full potential to grip and move us.
strong adult themes, violence, language cert 15 2.Oct.01

R E A D E R   R E V I E W S
he made a promise send your review to Shadows... "Nicholson gives possibly the most inspirational performance of his long career playing a well seasoned cop who, six hours before he's due to retire, gets himself involved in a child murder/rape investigation. An investigation he cannot officially continue with because of his retirement. It's a haunting tale of obsession and finally breakdown as we see Nicholson's character gradually mentally deteriorate before our eyes. An involving and certainly unforgettable experience." --Jeff Greenhalgh, net 22.Nov.01
2001 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall