New York Times - 01/19/2001
"...Deepily, scarily rewarding....[Mr. Nicholson is] magnificently understated....[The film] reveals Mr.Penn to be a great director of actors with a mind-reading ability to discover a character's truth in the tiniest dramatic nuances..."
USA Today - 01/19/2001
"...The movie wouldn't be imaginable without its commanding star. Nicholson is in virtually every scene underplaying to great effect..."-- 3 out of 4 stars
Variety - 01/08/2001
"...Absorbing dramatically....Nicholson is outstanding....Everything is kept on a tight leash, and very effectively so..."
Entertainment Weekly - 01/26/2001
"...[A] haunting and ravaged performance by Jack Nicholson....Penn is a true talent...He's got a real flair -- for visual suspense, for landscape, [and] for holding his actors in the throes of slow-motion breakdown...
Movieline's Hollywood Life - 03/01/2001
"...Rourke makes a vivid impression....Nicholson's subdued, haunted performance is one of his best, and Robin Wright Penn is surprisingly good..."
Los Angeles Times - 01/19/2001
"...[Penn] demonstrates a directorial focus and intensity, plus the ability to create mood and ambience while getting a message across..."
Sight and Sound - 10/01/2001
"...A consummate work of screen adaptation, and further evidence that there is precious little Sean Penn can't achieve on film, whether before or behind the lens..."
Chicago Sun-Times - 01/19/2001
"...Nicholson creates a character we follow into the darkness of his compulsion....He is able at one level to exude charm and stability..."
Director Sean Penn's (THE INDIAN RUNNER, THE CROSSING GUARD) third film features Jack Nicholson as Jerry Black, a retired detective whose final case ultimately causes his slow descent into madness. In the midst of his retirement party, Black decides to join Detective Stan Krolak (Aaron Eckhart) on one last case. The molested body of an eight-year-old girl is found in the Nevada mountains. When the chief suspect turns out to be a mentally challenged Native American (Benicio Del Toro), Black is not convinced of his guilt despite his confession. Unable to forget the promise he made to the dead girl's mother that he would find her daughter's killer, Black becomes determined to catch a monster that no one else believes is out there. His resolve increases when he realizes that two similar unsolved murders occurred in the same area in recent years, and the case hits closer to home when Black befriends Lori (Robin Wright Penn), a waitress with a threatening ex-husband, and her eight-year old daughter, Chrissy (Pauline Roberts). Nicholson is compelling in this study of a man whose obsession slowly eats away at his sanity as he attempts to keep his promise by any means necessary.
Warner Brothers opened the film nationwide and spent millions of dollars promoting it as an action-thriller despite the preference of Sean Penn (director) and Michael Fitzgerald (producer) to roll the film out slowly in a carefully targeted release in order to build critical support of this contemplative character study.
THE PLEDGE is based on a novel by Swiss author Friedrich Durrenmatt.