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The Pledge

Year: 2001
Studio: Morgan Creek Productions
Director: Sean Penn
Producer: Sean Penn
Cast: Jack Nicholson, Robin Wright Penn, Harry Dean Stanton, Aaron Eckhart, Vanessa Redgrave, Mickey Rourke, Patricia Clarkson
A lot more of a story than the last Penn/Nicholson pairing (The Crossing Guard) but just as moody, sullen and masterful. Jack Nicholson is Jerry Black, a detective on the verge of retirement when a vicious child rapist and killer strikes again. Promising the parents he'll bring the killer to justice, he turns his life's work into conducting his own investigation, buying a gas station for a front and keeping his eyes open.

When he befriends local woman Lori (Wright-Penn), he is horrified to work out that her own little girl is the next target. It's hard to imagine what theme Director Sean Penn and the writers were hoping to explore (there would surely be one and not just a face-value detective thriller), but the usual top notch performances are delivered by former indie darling Aaron Eckhart, Benicio Del Toro as the suspected Native American killer, Harry Dean Stanton and an unrecognisable Mickey Rourke.

The unique climax - where nobody but the audience is shown that Jerry was right all along, is all the more impactful as Lori leaves him in disgust for using her child as bait and he descends into an alcoholic abyss.

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