Friday, November 28, 2008


Angelina Jolie plays Christine Collins in this solid movie by Clint Eastwood. It was probably the worst movie directed by Eastwood that I can remember but that is not saying much. Letters from Iwo Jima and Flags of Our Fathers were superior, especially the latter. Million Dollar Baby was clearly better made but the second half of that film is only watchable once. Mystic River is probably still his best movie that I can think of.

Jolie may be nominated for this role, her performance was on the mark. The problem with this film is there is not much of a climax and the story sort of drags at times. The impression is not imprinted on the viewer, there is not that riveting minutes of footage.

John Malkovich's character is a Prespertarian reverend called Gustav Briegleb who rails against police corruption in his sermon at the pulpit and on his radio show. This movie does not prove much of anything on that front nor does it illustrate this besides this one case. This is just Hollywood being it's typical liberal self. Ironically, Eastwood is a Republican. Ofcourse he did not write the movie.

Regardless, there is a sloppy, lazy, and immoral police captain in the film who seemingly had or has too much power. He can summarily order people/woman into psycopathic wards without a warrant, without other justification, without a Doctor's order? Apparently, at this point he can, and just strip away people's freedom. What is worse, is that he forces a child that looks about the same as Collin's child, has him memorize Collin's address and tells him to act like her son. This is not shown but it is indicated that this occurs at the end when the boy states out loud that the police made him do it. The police would want to do this so they can claim this missing child case is solved.

The plot it is this, Collins's son does not return home one night. Collins is typically distraught but supposedly her son is found a couple of weeks later. Or this boy claims he is her son by calling her mother and siting the address. Collins later notices the child is not hers for sure when she realizes he is circumsized and that he is 3 inches shorter than when her son was last measured which is only a few weeks ago. She fights with the police over this, she is tossed into a nut ward, but the case is blown up when a child steps forth who says he helped kill and bury children out at this ranch he was living on with his uncle or cousin. The police later find children's bodies buried out there, Collins is released and Rev. Briegleb with a strong and recogniable lawyer go on the offensive. Collin's son is not proven to be one of the dead children ever in the movie so she retains hope all the way to the end. Collins works at a phone call center and is a skilled employee, she is a manager in fact.

When Collins's son is supposedly found and returned to her, she is knows it is not her son. Who would not believe a mother, or most mothers? An asinine police captain is one of the villians or atleast someone highly unethical in this film. It was his idea to plan Collin's address in the child's head, or the police captain's immediate supervisor. Either way, before this is revealed, the immorality of a few people in the LAPD chain of command, I thought the child was some sort of entity. Or an alien. I thought Eastwood was making a mysterious movie, something more along the science fiction lines. It was just my imagination though. That is more like M. Night Shyamalan's role in cinema. Despite his last movie being terrible and The Village was pathetic and hopelessly disappointing as well.

The killer who forced this child to become an accomplice is hanged in San Quentin I believe. Why they allow him to run his mouth like that until they drop the wooden bottom out is beyond me? Should have taped it shut but atleast he was spitting out remorse and not antagonizing the present family members.

When I first began this post, I sort of displayed my cards. Furthermore, this movie was not really that suspenseful, just because a movie fills time with some drama this does not automatically become amazing and edge of one's seat climatic acting and scenery. The cast was there but what did they do? Some talking and acting. Eastwood dropped the ball here. Sean Penn's screaming to the sky which required a dozen police officers to hold him back when he realized his daughter was killed in the spectacular movie Mystic River is still felt by me. Where was that in this film? Perhaps when Jolie was screaming behind the bars when the killer could not man up and truly confess that he killed her son to give Collins some closure? Not quite, it just was not there.

This movie does not have allot of compeition now so it could do OK. It is not as good as Pride and Glory but some people may favor this movie since it takes us to another time and there has been a smorgasbord or plethora of police movies that some people could be just weary of this type of film. Regardless, I think Pride and Glory should be given the nod here but neither are worthy of that much commendation.

I would allocate this movie three stars.***

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