The Pledge


Detective Jerry Black has made a promise he can't break, to catch a killer he can't find.


Jurassic Mark

SCORE: 1 Star

Hey, I'm Hollywood bigshot Sean Penn and I'm going to make a movie about a good man who has served as a good cop for twenty years. Then, I'm going to ruin his life for no reason other than the fact that the screenplay I read calls for it. This movie will be a character driven movie (so the plot won't really matter) and I will lure such acclaimed actors as Jack Nicholson, Vanessa Redgrave, (the up and coming) Benicio Del Toro, Helen Mirren, Robin Wright, and Mickey Rourke (that's right, Mickey Rourke).

How will I lure these actors? Easy. Vanessa, Benicio, Helen, and Mickey will each be promised one scene (and exactly one scene). It won't necessarily have to be a good scene or advance the story or anything, but it will require uber acting and tears (you know those actors love their crying scenes).

As for Jack, well, hell, he's an old friend. We made a movie that most people really hated called The Crossing Guard a few years back. Jack knows that I'm an "actor's director" and we are going to make his character so complicated that in one scene he will appear to be competent and world-wise, and in the next scene will look like an Alzheimer's patient. His acting will have to be great because Jack will be required to react to thing that could never possibly happen in real life.

If you want to see my movie, don't read the next part because I'm going to discuss key plot points.

Jack will be on the hunt for a serial killer because he made a promise to a mother whose child was slain. The police will arrest a retarded Indian (Benicio) who will confess to the crime and get to cry a lot. Bravo. Then in an incredibly believable scene, the handcuffed retard will take a policeman's gun and shoot himself. Everyone except Jack will think the case is closed. He will receive no help from people he has served with for years even though they admit he is a good cop.

In his quest to keep his promise to the woman I'll show lots of gory details and throw subtlety out the window. You'll get to see lots of forensic photos of naked ten-year-old girls with their throats cut.

Jack will try to gather evidence from people who have absolutely nothing to offer. He will visit Mickey whose child is missing. Mickey will cry and say he misses his little girl. Then Jack will go to Vanessa whose granddaughter was slain. She won't have any information, but she does cry.

Then, Jack will do the most natural thing in the world. He will use triangulation to "guesstimate" where the killer will next strike, go to that area, and BUY A GAS STATION.

He will then meet Robin who happens to be a single mom who has a daughter who exactly matches the age and description of all the dead and missing girls. When Robin's ex-husband beats her up, she naturally shows up at Jack's door because (well I haven't figured that one out yet). Jack offers to let Robin and daughter stay with him in his gas station/home. Jack and Robin will start a relationship.

This is where I predict all the critics will fall in love with my movie. It will be really unclear whether Jack is legitimately caring for Robin and daughter, or whether he is using the daughter as bait to catch the killer. Actually, both are true. So, you see, it's really complex and real. My favorite thing about the movie is that I will leave out a scene that most people would think would be necessary. This is the scene where Jack tells Robin about the killer and about the increasing evidence that her daughter is in danger. This scene will not exist in the movie because it will be the one mistake that leads to Jack's utter ruin.

So, how does our villain die? I thought about a shoot-out, but that's to trite. I'm an artist. No, the serial killer will die in a car wreck. You see, Jack has the killer set-up, and in a scene that you won't see, he will enlist the aid of his former colleagues (with snipers and everything).

Then, I will reveal my masterful ending. It will be pointless and some critics (like Jane Sumner) will no doubt describe it as existential (a meaningless term in this context). The former cop colleagues of Jack will abandon the sting because Jack has chosen this unfortunate time to go into his Alzheimer's routine. Then the head cop will tell Jack that he will have to tell Robin about all this. Now, I know some people in the audience will wonder why they need to inform Robin now and not before the sting. But, this way, we can have a crackling scene where Robin arrives tires squealing to whisk away her daughter and call Jack "fucking insane."

My complex picture will end with a broken Jack muttering unintelligibly to the camera. No one will ever know that Jack was right about the killer. I would like to credit my screenwriters for the undoubted success of this movie. First of all, there is first-timer Jerry Kromolowski. He was assisted by Mary Olson whose previous writing experience was 28 years ago for a seldom seen movie called "It Ain't Easy."

-Sean Penn