The Company You Keep movie poster
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The Company You Keep movie poster

The Company You Keep Movie Review

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Robert Redford returns to the big screen for the first time in five years in The Company You Keep, a star-studded thriller that has the 76-year old actor on the lamb for a crime he did or didn't commit decades earlier. He still can run better than I can.

Redford plays Jim Grant, a widower and father of a young girl (because in a film that is also directed by Robert Redford, Robert Redford is only 50+ years old) whose life explodes when a former associate of his (played by Susan Sarandon) is captured by the FBI and an ambitious young journalist (Shia LaBeouf) discovers that he is actually Nick Sloan, a former Weather Underground terrorist wanted for a murder decades earlier.

When shit happens, shit happens.

The Company You Keep, which also stars Julie Christie, Nick Nolte, Chris Cooper, Terrence Howard, Stanley Tucci, Richard Jenkins, Anna Kendrick, Brendan Gleeson, Chris Cooper and Brit Marling, is a compelling thriller that keeps you guessing and continues to add layers as the story progresses. Written by Lem Dobbs off a novel by Neil Gordon, the movie maintains intrigue throughout while exploring themes of paying for past sins and the evolution of beliefs and priorities.

With the cast involved, it hardly makes sense to even touch on the casting, but LaBeouf stands out among the rest. With this movie, he sheds the fast-talking neurotic style that has defined his career and delivers his best performance to date. Redford can still carry a film, too, and he does so both in front of and behind the camera.

But The Company You Keep is far from perfect. With so many characters and superb actors involved, some of the Oscar-caliber talent is wasted or underutilized. Chris Cooper and Anna Kendrick especially have small, unimportant roles that fail to take advantage of their capabilities. Characters come and go from the story and often bring little to the picture; Kendrick's character, for example, is introduced early on and appears to be an integral piece of the film, but then she vanishes, never to return.

The movie also loses its edge in the final act. Redford sets the stage for an intriguing and complex climax, but toward the end The Company You Keep sheds many of its layers and doesn't deliver on the expectations it sets early on. What appears to be a film building to something clever and unpredictable turns out to be much simpler and obvious when all and said is done. It's a little disappointing.

Still, despite its shortcomings, The Company You Keep is a superbly acted and entertaining thriller that undoubtedly deserves more attention than it will ever receive.

Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.

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