ABC Film Challenge – Favourites – P – The Pledge (2001) Movie Review

Director: Sean Penn

Writer: Jerzy Kromolowski, Mary Olson-Kromolowski (Screenplay) Friedrich Durrenmatt (Book)

Starring: Jack Nicholson, Patricia Clarkson, Benicio Del Toro, Aaron Eckhart, Beau Daniels, Helen Mirren, Robin Wright, Vanessa Redgrave, Mickey Rourke

Plot: A retiring police detective pledges to catch the killer of a young child.


Tagline – He may have retired, but he’s still catching the killer

Runtime: 2 Hours 4 Minutes

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

Verdict: Intense Thriller

Story: The Pledge starts as the body of a young girl who has been brutally raped and murdered is discovered, retiring detective Jerry Black (Nicholson) wants to help investigate under Stan Krolak (Eckhart), which includes breaking the news to the parents Margaret (Clarkson) and Duane (O’Keefe), making a promise to get the monster behind this crime.

What looks like a cut and dry case, mentally handicapped Toby Wadenah (Del Toro) admits to the crime, dying in police custody. Jerry continues on into retirement, only after another murder that looks similar, he starts to look into the case again, learning that the real killer might still be out there and wanting to solve the case, even without the help of his former colleagues.

Thoughts on The Pledge

Characters – Jerry Black is a detective on the verge of retirement, when the murder happens, he wants to help and after the solving of the case goes smoothly, he heads of into retirement sunset, until he learns about another murder, he wants to reopen the case to solve the a potential serial killer, putting him in the position where he thinks he will cross paths with the killer. When it comes to the rest of the characters, we have a string of police officers at different levels, a couple of parents, some who have seen their children killed, one suffering abuse, but most of this film is focusing on how Jerry is dealing with retirement.

PerformancesJack Nicholson is fantastic in this leading role, he brings us a veteran cop that has always been able to solve a case, and shows how retirement will leave a void in his life. We do have a very good supporting cast of actors here including Helen Mirren, Patricia Clarkson, Aaron Eckhart, Vanessa Redgrave, Benicio Del Toro, Robin Wright and Sam Shepard who all do well with their roles in the film.

StoryThe story here follows a retiring detective that gets involved in one last case, only for him to see it closed easily, but not being convinced the suspect was really the person, trying to continue solving the crime, which he believes is bigger. This is a very interesting story, it does show how crimes could easily be connected and how it could only be one that starts trying to solve the issues he has with the case, while deeper down it shows how one detective could be struggling with his retirement, not wanting to accept that he won’t have cases to solve. Having both of these ideas playing hand in hand is very interesting, which leads to us wondering which is true.

Crime/MysteryThe crime side of the film does see a horrible murder being solved, with the mystery about whether it was really the person that was caught or not.

SettingsThe film uses the settings to show how Jerry is trying to solve a murder, which could end up being a bigger crime going on, with him looking at potential locations.


Scene of the Movie – The parade.

That Moment That Annoyed Me – It is left too much to our own to decide the truth.

Final Thoughts This is an interesting thriller that does follow a detective who believes that a crime could still need solving, or he could just be making it up to keep him busy, this is interesting to see unfold with Jack Nicholson shining.

Overall: Brilliant Thriller.

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