The Pledge Reviews


Variety
Top Critic
February 23, 2012

Derek Adams
Time Out
Top Critic
June 24, 2006

Jeff Strickler
Minneapolis Star Tribune
Top Critic
November 6, 2002

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 | Original Score: 3.5/4
Peter Rainer
New York Magazine/Vulture
Top Critic
September 26, 2002

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.

Rick Groen
Globe and Mail
Top Critic
March 22, 2002

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

Full Review | Original Score: 2.5/4
Stanley Kauffmann
The New Republic
Top Critic
March 8, 2001

Joel Siegel
Good Morning America
Top Critic
February 9, 2001

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


Ebert & Roeper
Top Critic
February 7, 2001

Jonathan Rosenbaum
Chicago Reader
Top Critic
February 7, 2001

Full Review | Original Score: 3/4
Peter Travers
Rolling Stone
Top Critic
February 1, 2001

A fierce, fragmented, downbeat film.

| Original Score: 4/5
Peter Howell
Toronto Star
Top Critic
January 19, 2001

A movie of impressive performances and intriguing visuals that are worth the effort needed to let the tale roll out.

Susan Stark
Detroit News
Top Critic
January 19, 2001

It's the rare -- and rewarding -- police drama that cares more for character than plot.

Full Review | Original Score: 3/4
Jay Boyar
Orlando Sentinel
Top Critic
January 19, 2001

A moving and unmannered motion picture -- a convincing portrait of a man at the end of his rope.

Steven Rosen
Denver Post
Top Critic
January 19, 2001

Penn as director shows how he can turn an ordinary movie scene -- how many times have we seen a jailhouse interrogation? -- into something inventively, thrillingly singular.

Gene Seymour
Newsday
Top Critic
January 19, 2001

Those looking for a 'feel-good' movie are advised to go elsewhere -- unless watching artists working near their peak leaves you soaring.

Eric Harrison
Houston Chronicle
Top Critic
January 19, 2001

The performance, and the movie, remind us why Nicholson matters.

Rene Rodriguez
Miami Herald
Top Critic
January 19, 2001

[A] beautifully made bummer.

Terry Lawson
Detroit Free Press
Top Critic
January 19, 2001

A gripping, disturbing and deeply intelligent drama.

Carrie Rickey
Philadelphia Inquirer
Top Critic
January 19, 2001

It is understatement to say that Nicholson does some of the finest work of his career here.

Glenn Lovell
San Jose Mercury News
Top Critic
January 19, 2001

I'll wager you won't see a better performance by a veteran American actor over the next 11 months.

Bob Graham
San Francisco Chronicle
Top Critic
January 19, 2001

Dark and disturbing but thoroughly involving. It sets off depth charges of the psyche.

Full Review | Original Score: 3/4
Paul Clinton (CNN.com)
CNN.com
Top Critic
January 19, 2001

It has all the right credentials, so why is it such a muddled mess?

Mike Clark
USA Today
Top Critic
January 19, 2001

Just when you're about to lose patience, something honest or credible happens.

Jay Carr
Boston Globe
Top Critic
January 19, 2001

In its dark, relentless, devastatingly ironic way, The Pledge is an exhilarating movie, partly because it isn't afraid to be genuinely challenging.

Lou Lumenick
New York Post
Top Critic
January 19, 2001

Not a film for all tastes, but it's a considerable artistic achievement.

Roger Ebert
Chicago Sun-Times
Top Critic
January 19, 2001

Penn and Nicholson take risks with the material and elevate the movie to another, unanticipated, haunting level.

Full Review | Original Score: 3.5/4
Stephen Holden
New York Times
Top Critic
January 19, 2001

Not a pleasant film, but it is deeply, scarily rewarding.

Full Review | Original Score: 4/5
Charles Taylor
Salon.com
Top Critic
January 19, 2001

Penn's direction is given to flat, self-conscious realism. He has no feel for pacing, no cunning, no natural flow.

Michael O'Sullivan
Washington Post
Top Critic
January 18, 2001

It understands the relativism of right and wrong and takes a kind of perverse pleasure in reminding us that there are some things we'll never know.

Full Review | Original Score: 3/5
Lawrence Terenzi
Mr. Showbiz
Top Critic
January 18, 2001

Jack Nicholson passes on the ham, delivering a subtle, weighted performance that neatly complements Sean Penn's growing confidence as a director.

| Original Score: 75/100
Kenneth Turan
Los Angeles Times
Top Critic
January 18, 2001

Penn's unending parade of unhappy situations is simply too insistent, his suffocating, claustrophobic worldview more of an assault than the revelation he perhaps hopes it will be.

Full Review | Original Score: 3/5
Robert Horton
Film.com
Top Critic
January 18, 2001

Much of the film's power is in the worn gravity of watching 'Jack Nicholson' as he treads through a particularly obsessive and difficult character.

Jane Sumner
Dallas Morning News
Top Critic
January 18, 2001

Yes, it's grim, but if you don't need your plots sugar-coated, this film about life-change, obsession and keeping your word is an existential winner.

Owen Gleiberman
Entertainment Weekly
Top Critic
January 18, 2001

Damned if Penn doesn't draw you inside this labyrinth of existential murk.

Full Review | Original Score: B
Michael Wilmington
Chicago Tribune
Top Critic
January 18, 2001

Thanks to a superb central performance by Nicholson as detective Black, it's a film that compels, thrills and ends up coming very close to tragedy.

Steve Murray
Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Top Critic
January 18, 2001

Drags us through dark places, without convincing us it's a journey worth taking.

Full Review | Original Score: C-
Kirk Honeycutt
Hollywood Reporter
Top Critic
January 9, 2001

Jack Nicholson more than delivers the goods in his portrayal of a retired policeman thoroughly obsessed by his last murder case.

Todd McCarthy
Variety
Top Critic
January 9, 2001

Absorbing dramatically and deeply committed to the acting processes of star Jack Nicholson and the raft of impressive players supporting him.

James Berardinelli
ReelViews
Top Critic
January 1, 2000

The Pledge will cause many viewers to walk out of the theaters grumbling, since there is no traditional closure. But the way in which things turn out seems right for the material and the manner in which Penn has chosen to present it.

Full Review | Original Score: 3/4
Michael Atkinson
Village Voice
Top Critic
January 1, 2000

Though at times it threatens to meander off, Penn's movie fulfills its destiny as an alienated fable of justice and luck.