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The Pledge (2001)



Average Rating: 6.8/10
Reviews Counted: 121
Fresh: 94 | Rotten: 27

Though its subject matter is grim and may make viewers queasy, The Pledge features an excellent, subtle performance by Jack Nicholson.


Average Rating: 7.1/10
Critic Reviews: 36
Fresh: 31 | Rotten: 5

Though its subject matter is grim and may make viewers queasy, The Pledge features an excellent, subtle performance by Jack Nicholson.



liked it
Average Rating: 3.2/5
User Ratings: 21,548

My Rating

Movie Info

On the day of his retirement, Nevada homicide detective Jerry Black lingers in his office one last time. But when the body of a murdered 8-year-old girl is discovered in the snow-blanketed mountains, the reluctant retiree is unable to step aside. Jerry offers his expertise at the crime scene, and takes it upon himself to deliver the devastating news to the victim's parents. The grieving mother begs Jerry for answers. Faced with the tragic nature of the crime, the parent's suffering and his own

Jun 19, 2001


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All Critics (141) | Top Critics (40) | Fresh (94) | Rotten (27) | DVD (22)

Mystery-thriller buffs, promise yourselves that you'll see The Pledge. And while you're at it, be sure to invite along Jack Nicholson fans and anyone who saw the first two movies that Sean Penn directed.

November 6, 2002 Full Review Source: Minneapolis Star Tribune
Minneapolis Star Tribune
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Penn can't be faulted for his work with the actors. Most of the featured players have only a scene or two, but they're indelible.

September 26, 2002 Full Review Source: New York Magazine/Vulture
New York Magazine/Vulture
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Ultimately, the payoffs just aren't there, either psychologically or dramatically.

March 22, 2002 Full Review Source: Globe and Mail
Globe and Mail
Top Critic IconTop Critic

This is one of Nicholson's finest performances and that's saying one hell of a lot.

February 9, 2001
Good Morning America
Top Critic IconTop Critic

A fierce, fragmented, downbeat film.

February 1, 2001
Rolling Stone
Top Critic IconTop Critic

[Penn] sustains a mesmerizing intensity while relentlessly building toward an emotionally wrenching climax.

July 18, 2014 Full Review Source: The Moving Picture Show
The Moving Picture Show

Sean Penn's agonizing, angst-ridden "The Pledge" feels like a mystery less about murder and more about the inexplicable dangers of impulse and guilt. It's also a waning opportunity to see Jack Nicholson as anything besides a silver-haired hornball.

September 17, 2010 Full Review Source:

Its grip is on the mind but not the heart--a problem for a film that clearly aims for some emotional impact.

March 26, 2010 Full Review Source:

Nicholson rules over The Pledge with a shaky hand, and that's the source of his power here.

September 22, 2007 Full Review Source:

After two honorable failures, Sean Penn makes quantum leap forward with an intriguing murder mystery that's also effective as a psychological character study. Nicholosn's riveting turn compensates for deliberate pacing and downbeat tone.

October 8, 2006 Full Review Source: EmanuelLevy.Com

Penn shows restraint and patience, letting the actors discover moments, rhythms, and quirks that make their characters believable.

January 15, 2005 Full Review Source: Looking Closer
Looking Closer

É uma pena que nem todos tenham paciência para tentar compreender melhor Jerry Black. Tenho certeza de que, no futuro, este será lembrado como um dos personagens mais marcantes da bela carreira de Jack Nicholson.

May 2, 2003
Cinema em Cena

Penn has moulded a patient but deeply unsettling character study, leaving the viewer with more questions than answers.

February 13, 2003 Full Review Source: RTE Interactive (Dublin, Ireland)

Emotionally powerful film of rare and grave subtlety.

December 8, 2002 Full Review Source: Film Threat
Film Threat

The problem is Nicholson. He sleepwalks through the part in a cloud of ubiquitous cigarette smoke, stiff, uncomfortable, and looking like he wishes he'd never signed that contract.

October 21, 2002 Full Review Source: San Diego Metropolitan
San Diego Metropolitan

Carnadas humanas, una historia obsesiva, y un tono lírico tremendo... grata combinación que transforma una historia policíaca en algo humano, vivo y enteramente emocional.

September 15, 2002

Penn's task is well-served not only by a superb cast but the efforts of first-rate collaborators.

June 5, 2002 Full Review Source: Boxoffice Magazine
Boxoffice Magazine

Steeped in an almost unbearable sadness, dense with moral ambiguity it stubbornly withholds comfort at every startling turn.

June 5, 2002
Philadelphia Weekly

Never less than respectable.

March 7, 2002 Full Review Source: Matinee Magazine
Matinee Magazine

The film's stately pace emphasizes Jerry's slow transformation, and there are a number of wonderful scenes, both visually and structurally.

February 28, 2002 Full Review Source: Goatdog's Movies
Goatdog's Movies

Jack the character actor is back, and it's been well worth the wait.

February 26, 2002 Full Review Source: Mark Reviews Movies
Mark Reviews Movies

While some developments are generally predictable, the movie ends up taking us on a thematic journey that is unexpected and shattering.

February 17, 2002

Audience Reviews for The Pledge

Sean Penn directed this interesting story about the innate fear of ageing, wrapped inside of a murder mystery/hunt for a killer, with a tiny bit of "fuck you" to the culture that makes objects of women (whatever their age) on the side. Because it's Penn there's plenty of quality character actors here (it's a damned acting smorgasbord!), with actor showcase scenes (unnecessary for the story but allowing the actors to preen some) scattered about this not-much-more-than-a-CSI-episode-done-Hollywood-style of a film and therein is where the movie gets legs, gets up, and gets down.
The story presented however is as mean-spirited a thing I've seen outside of torture porn. Even the payoff at the feature's close is denied.
If you enjoy filmmaking designed to produce stomach upset, this is the work for you.
August 26, 2014

Super Reviewer

The Pledge is an average thriller, one that doesn't have anything truly remarkable going for it. The problem I had with the film was that it was a long, tedious affair that really took too much time for the story to unfold. I have nothing against films that do that, but they should at least have something going on to make it truly interesting. That's where The Pledge kinds of falls flat, and never realizes its potential of being a memorable thriller. Luckily, the performances are quite good, or else the film would have ultimately failed in being a watchable affair. I really wanted to enjoy the film, but to me, it tried to outdo its ideas by stretching its story, and in turn, the pacing suffered, and it didn't have a good flow to go with the somewhat effective story. The Pledge is a flawed film, that doesn't necessitate multiple viewings, but it's good and worth seeing, but it's not a memorable thriller either. Sean Penn's direction, is average at best, and he seems to try to hard at conveying a story that feels too ambitious, and he adds too much of a pretentious vibe to the film, which makes the overall on-screen result suffer, and it ends up being a bland, average film that divides viewers. I really wanted to enjoy this one a bit more, but I felt that something was missing to truly make it standout. As it is, it's a good movie, but it's not great either. You'll watch the film, wanting a bit more out of the film, and you'll spend it figuring out that there's something missing to really make it a memorable, stunning thriller.
May 24, 2014
Jeff "The Dude" Lebowski

Super Reviewer

This is Sean Penn's masterpiece. He has made other really good movies like The Indian Runner and Into The Wild, but this is easily his best. The cast is amazing with possibly the best two roles coming from Mickey Rourke and Benicio Del Toro who both have very little screen time. This is a very unique and chilling movie.
May 8, 2011
Melvin White

Super Reviewer

Cast: Jack Nicholson, Dale Dickey, Benicio Del Toro, Aaron Eckhart, Helen Mirren, Tom Noonan, Robin Wright Penn, Vanessa Redgrave, Mickey Rourke, Sam Shepard, Lois Smith, Harry Dean Stanton, Costas Mandylor, Michael O'Keefe, Eileen Ryan, Patricia Clarkson

Director: Sean Penn

Summary: Homicide detective Jerry Black (Jack Nicholson) is on the eve of retirement when he gets a call that changes everything. A young girl has been murdered, and Black takes the case, promising the distraught parents he'll see it through to the end. Robin Wright co-stars as Black's companion, a single, working-class mother who can't divine the obsessive streak that makes him tick.

My Thoughts: "I thought it was a really good film. Jack Nicholson was exceptional as Jerry Black. This film has a great supporting cast from Helen Mirren to Patricia Clarkson. Great group of actor's in a slow mystery thriller. The story has disturbing images that were (the murder scene) hard to look at. The ending really surprised me. The middle of the film is a build up for this finale that you know is coming, but it's not the ending you thought you would get. Once again, Jack Nicholson, so good in this. Also Sean Penn directing, what a great job by him. Really like his directing."
December 1, 2010

Super Reviewer

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