The Company You Keep Blu-ray Review
Secrets are the name of the game in THE COMPANY YOU KEEP. There are the secrets that parents keep from their children. There are secrets that employees keep from their employers. And of course there are the secrets that the government keeps from its citizens.
Jim Grant (the still youthful Robert Redford) is one of those people living with a secret. He’s run from his past and is now living a quiet life with his young daughter. He practices law which is a bit ironic since in his past life involved breaking the law. Jim used to be a member of the Weather Underground. This organization was firmly against the Vietnam War and bombed government buildings to make their point. Later on some members robbed a bank and a guard was killed in the process. Jim has been hiding out ever since to escape prosecution for this crime that he may or may not have participated in.
Jim’s world gets turned upside down when one of his former colleagues in the organization gets arrested by the FBI for the bank robbery that happened 30 years ago. Sharon Solarz (Susan Sarandon) had planned on turning herself in, but got nabbed before she could. Billy Cusimano (Stephen Root) tried to get Jim to represent Sharon in her case. Big mistake. Jim and others who had been hiding out are put on notice. Ben Shepherd (Shia LaBeouf), an Albany newspaper reporter, starts sniffing around the case to see what’s up. Ben has contacts in the FBI in Diana (Anna Kendrick). She reports to FBI agent Cornelius (an underused Terrence Howard).
Director Redford is working from a script from Lem Dobbs based on the novel by Neil Gordan. Redford styles the movie like a 70s thriller that were so great. There are hidden envelopes, secrets calls, hideouts and hidden agendas. The problem though is this film just never quite takes off. It starts promisingly enough with the feds closing in on Jim or Nick Sloan as this is his real name. There’s a tense situation at a hotel and Nick barely gets away. I expected a nice cat and mouse game between Cornelius and Nick. This never materializes. Instead it’s Ben that seemingly uncovers things way before the FBI does. I did like that Ben had to look through microfiche and old newspaper clippings for clues. Now those were the days. Google is not left out in these proceedings, so they got their money’s worth.
One of best things here is the amazing cast that is assembled here. That is also a negative since there is not enough screen time for any of them to make their mark. You just stop and stare and point to the famous actor on the screen. Look there’s Nick Nolte. There’s Sam Elliott and Chris Cooper. Stanley Tucci and Brendan Gleeson are here and accounted for. Oscar winner Julie Christie actually does have a key role, but she still doesn’t have too many scenes to really shine.
Redford does a decent job of showing both sides of the political argument in this story. Two of the biggest speeches in the film though are presented from the left which isn’t all that surprising. That is where THE COMPANY YOU KEEP loses me. I personally don’t care if the speech comes from the left or right. I see good things from both sides. I just hate when movie get too preachy. That is exactly what happens with Christie’s character Mimi near the end. She expounds on all that is wrong with this country. She makes some decent points, but she goes on and on. It’s overkill by the time she finishes. At least Nick points out the flaw in her logic.
The story jumps around from New York to California and parts in between. The starry cast gets to shine for a few minutes and then are shooed away. There is never any momentum that is built. I was especially frustrated by the disappearance of Howard for long stretches. I wanted the matching of wits. How would these foes outsmart each other? Instead we have the perky reporter staying one step ahead. That is another problem I have. Ben’s boss (played by Stanley Tucci) is upset at the beginning of the story of Susan getting arrested in their backyard and they didn’t have the story. Ben starts digging and the boss suddenly wants him to stop or tread carefully. What is it? Either he wants the story or he wants him to back off. You can’t have both and survive in the newspaper business. It is ultimately so incredibly silly. Dobbs throws in a love story for Ben that doesn’t belong here. It is put in just to make Ben’s ethical dilemma in the end more poignant. I just had to chuckle.
THE COMPANY YOU KEEP has the makings of a quality film, but it merely trips over itself with slow plodding, ridiculous subplots and extreme preachiness. The surprises at the end just merely generate yawns for a disappointing effort.
THE COMPANY YOU KEEP BLU-RAY REVIEW
Video: 1080 High Definition. Shown in 2:40:1 aspect ratio: THE COMPANY YOU KEEP looks wonderful on this Blu-ray transfer
Audio: Presented in 5.1 DTS-HD MA: No complaints on the audio front.
The Company You Keep Press Conference (13:19): Redford takes most of the questions. Casting and the story are the main topics. Journalism is discussed at length.
On the Red Carpet (2:20): Short feature that has Redford and some of the actors speaking briefly about the movie.
Behind the Scenes: The Movement (12:14): Several of the actors discuss the motivations of their characters. The Weather Underground is not really discussed here.
Behind the Scenes: The Script, Preparation and The Cast (17:52): Shia LaBeouf has the most face time in this feature. He talks about all aspects of the film including how he prepared for the role and how the script changed. Many of the actors sing the praises of Redford and also talk about the movie in general.