This inspired-by-reality tale is essentially an emotional snuff film. It's the kind of misguided effort a middle-aged director indulges in when he wants to reinvent himself as edgy.
| Original Score: C-
Cassavetes' film is pure Hollywood fiction and sensationalism mixed with some sense of reality, but hell I enjoyed it a great deal...
| Original Score: 3/4
A lackluster teenage true-crime tale.
| Original Score: 1.5/5
Stylishly and thoughtfully directed by Nick Cassavetes, Alpha Dog is occasionally chilling, but always absorbing.
Its originality lies in the fact that it depicts white middle-class kids on the loose, calling their women bitches and listening endlessly to violent, misogynist and homophobic black rap.
| Original Score: 3/5
Nick Cassavetes' film combines an aimless ramble through juvenile depravity in the affluent suburbs of LA and a quite disturbing evocation of the true-life murder of an adolescent boy in 1999.
It's Beverly Hills 90210 on crystal meth as a gang of posh potheads lose the plot when a kidnapping goes wrong.
| Original Score: 3.5/5
The movie may lose its way in the last 15 minutes but everything leading up to that point is gripping, edge-of-your-seat stuff.
| Original Score: 4/5
Lengthy and often off-hot topic, this is still a gripping saga with stand-out turns from Timberlake, Hirsch and kid-in-the-spotlight Yelchin.
You know you're in trouble the second you take a look at Bruce Willis's fake liver spots.
Overall though, it's a messy, superficial affair: it lacks focus, shifts uneasily in tone, and shoehorns in star names (Sharon Stone, Bruce Willis) to little effect.
| Original Score: 2/5
True, Alpha Dog is a film with no manners. But it has great nerve. What's truly impressive is how the splintered story is buried by individual performances.
Worth seeing for Stone's grotesque bow and some great youthful performances. But it's not half as gritty as it thinks it is.
It suffers from ADD, but there's some terrific stuff in here. Leaving 15 minutes from the end and saving yourself a lumbering coda may improve enjoyment.
Emotionally engaging, impressively directed and frequently tense drama with strong performances from a terrific ensemble cast.
A movie which has been put together with occasional skill but lacks a compelling reason to exist.
Cassavetes uses a wide arsenal of flashy techniques...but his stylistic fourishes and some committed performances cannot disguise a certain emptiness where there should be tragedy.
Cassavetes, first and foremost, made Alpha Dog a great ensemble piece, a decision that really distinguishes the film from its lesser teenage crime counterparts.
As it happens, not all dogs to to heaven. Some go straight to hell, and Alpha Dog gets there faster and stays there longer than most.
| Original Score: F
The film's most resonant insight%u2014not a new one%u2014is that the boys' mutual violence and abuse form a sort of intimacy. No matter what else they miss, they understand their own fearfulness and disloyalty.