The basic skeleton of the movie is a very simple one, and something tried and tested innumerable times – a veteran cop getting involved in a nasty investigation when he’s on the verge of retiring. But Sean Penn’s third feature behind the camera, The Pledge, is far more profound than that. A cop’s pledge to the victim’s mother turns into a deeply psychological exploration of themes like honour, justice and dogged obsession, rather than being just another tense police drama. The movie boasts of splendid visual beauty, a soundtrack that is moving and apt in equal measures, a languid yet introspective narrative, and a number of attention-grabbing cameos by the likes of Aaron Eckhart, Benicio Del Toro and Mickey Rourke. But at the heart of this quietly disturbing movie lies yet another bravura, you’ve-got-to-see-it-to-believe kind of performance by Jack Nicholson. Instead of the inimitable devilish grin and the explosive, anti-establishmentarian turns that have made him a legend, here we see him as a world-weary man fighting against a nemesis nobody believes in, and slowly walking down the path to insanity. His intense, implosive and incredibly nuanced portrayal has managed to add that extra layer of melancholy and underrated philosophical worth to this compelling character study from Penn.
Director: Sean Penn Genre: Drama/Police Drama/Psychological Thriller/Mystery/Americana Language: English Country: US