The Pledge (2001)



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

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 … More

Rating: R (for violence, a strong sex scene, and some language)
Genre: Mystery & Suspense, Drama
Directed By:
Written By: Sean Penn, Mary Olson-Kromolowski, Jerzy Kromolowski
In Theaters:
On DVD: Jun 19, 2001
Box Office: $18.9M
Warner Bros. Pictures - Official Site


as Det. Jerry Black

as Toby Jay Wadenah

as Stan Krolak

as Annalise Hansen

as Margaret Larson

as Jim Olstand

as Eric Pollack

as Gary Jackson

as Duane Larson

as Strom

as Helen Jackson
Show More Cast

News & Interviews for The Pledge

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Critic Reviews for The Pledge

All Critics (141) | Top Critics (40)

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.

Full Review… | November 6, 2002
Minneapolis Star Tribune
Top 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.

Full Review… | September 26, 2002
New York Magazine/Vulture
Top Critic

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

Full Review… | March 22, 2002
Globe and Mail
Top Critic

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

Full Review… | July 18, 2014
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.

Full Review… | September 17, 2010

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

Full Review… | March 26, 2010

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.

Kevin M. Williams

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.

Alex roy

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.

Melvin White

Super Reviewer

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