The Company You Keep (a J!-ENT Blu-ray Disc Review)
August 7, 2013 by Dennis Amith
“The Company You Keep” is a riveting political action thriller featuring an all-star cast! It’s an exciting, smart film that will no doubt entertain you from beginning to end. Recommended!
TITLE: The Company You Keep
FILM RELEASE: 2012
DURATION: 122 Minutes
BLU-RAY DISC INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition, 2:40:1 aspect ratio, English 5.1 DTS-HD MA, Subtitles: English, English SDH
COMPANY: Sony Pictures Classics
RATED: R (For Language)
Release Date: August 13, 2013
Directed by Robert Redford
Screenplay by Lem Dobbs
Based on the novel by Neil Gordon
Produced by Nicolas Carter, Bill Holderman, Robert Redford
Executive Producer: Craig J. Flores, Shawn Williamson
Associate Producer: Jonathan Shore
Music by Cliff Martinez
Cinematography by Adriano Goldman
Edited by Mark Day
Casting by Avy Kaufman, Maureen Webb
Production Design by Laurence Bennett
Art Direction by Jeremy Stanbridge
Set Decoration by Carol Lavallee
Costume Design by Karen L. Matthews
Robert Redford as Jim Grant/Nick Sloan
Shia LaBeouf as Ben Shepard
Julie Christie as Mimi Lurie
Susan Sarandon as Sharon Solarz
Nick Nolte as Donal Fitzgerald
Chris Cooper as Daniel Sloan
Terrence Howard as FBI Agent Cornelius
Stanley Tucci as Ray Fuller
Richard Jenkins as Jed Lewis
Anna Kendrick as Diana
Brendan Gleeson as Henry Osborne
Brit Marling as Rebecca Osborne
Sam Elliott as Mac Mcleod
Stephen Root as Billy Cusimano
Jackie Evancho as Isabel Grant
In 2003, author Neil Gordon’s novel “The Company You Keep” was released. And for actor/director/producer Robert Redford (“The Horse Whisperer”, “The Sting”, “Spy Game”), he happened to enjoy the book so much, that he wanted to make a film adaptation of the novel.
Featuring a screenplay by Lem Dobbs (“Dark City”, “The Score”, “The Hard Way”), the film would win the “Giovani Giurati del Vittorio Veneto Film Festival Award” and “Open Prize” and the Venice Film Festival and the film would go on to receive positive reviews from film critics.
The film would feature an all-star cast which includes Redford in the lead role, Shia LaBeouf (“Transformers” films, “Lawless”), Julie Christie (“Doctor Zhivago”, “Fahrenheit 451”, “Finding Neverland”), Susan Sarandon (“Thelma & Louise”, “The Client”, “The Rocky Horror Picture Show”), Nick Nolte (“48 Hours”, “The Thin Red Line”, “Cape Fear”), Chris Cooper (“American Beauty”, “The Bourne Identity”, “Adaptation”), Terrence Howard (“Iron Man”, “Hustle & Flow”, “Crash”), Stanley Tucci (“The Hunger Game”, “The Terminal”, “The Devil Wears Prada”), Richard Jenkins (“Jack Reacher”, “The Cabin in the Woods”, “Step Brothers”), Anna Kendrick (“Pitch Perfect”, “Up in the Air”, “50/50”), Brendan Gleeson (“Troy”, “Gangs of New York”, “Braveheart”), Brit Marling (“Another Earth”, “Arbitrage”, “The East”), Sam Elliott (“Hulk”, “Up in the Air”, “Tombstone”) and singer Jackie Evancho.
“The Company You Keep” begins with an introduction of extremism that grew in America in a fight against the Vietnam War. One of the extremist groups was the Weather Underground.
The film would then feature Sharon Solarz (portrayed by Susan Sarandon) saying goodbye to her family. She goes to the nearest gas station and immediately is arrested by federal authorities.
It is revealed that Sharon Solarz is a former member of the Weather Underground, a group that has been wanted by federal authorities for a 1980 Michigan bank robbery which left a bank security guard dead. Wanting to write about the arrest is an ambitious reporter named Ben Shepard (portrayed by Shia LaBeouf) of the Albany Sun Times. His editor Ray Fuller (portrayed by Stanley Tucci) assigns him to follow up on the story.
Meanwhile, we are introduced to Jim Grant (portrayed by Robert Redford), a single father who is raising his young 11-year-old daughter Isabel (portrayed by Jackie Evancho). Jim’s wife and Isabel’s mother was killed in a car accident and the two have been trying to get back into live their lives but Jim knows that his daughter is still hurting and he has to be there for her.
A successful lawyer, he is asked by former client, Billy Cusimano (portrayed by Stephen Root) who is friends with Sharon Solarz if he can represent her in court. But Jim doesn’t want to take any major cases because of his wife’s death and he wants to focus on raising his daughter, so he declines to represent Solarz but gives Billy a phone number of another lawyer.
As Ben goes to the FBI to get some information from FBI agent Diana (portrayed by Anna Kendrick), a woman he once dated back in college. With Ben prodding for more info., she gives him the name of Billy Cusimano, a man that they have wiretapped and was in contact with Sharon Solarz before she was arrested.
When Ben goes to visit Cusimano, Ben finds out that he went to Jim Grant first, but he declined such a major case. This leads to Ben trying to contact Jim and wondering why he would bypass such a major case. He meets with Jim but he gets nothing from there meeting, so Ben begins to investigate Jim Grant and he finds out that before 1979 and finds a copy of Jim Grant’s California death certificate The more he starts to investigate, he realizes that Jim Grant is actually Nick Sloan, a former member of the Weather Underground.
Jim realizes that he is about to be outted as a member of the Weather Underground and be implicated for murdering a security guard, which will take him away from his daughter. So, instead of taking Isabel to school in the morning, both leave on a father and daughter trip, which is actually a goodbye for Jim as he plans to have his brother Daniel (portrayed by Chris Cooper) watch over his daughter and makes him a temporary guardian.
When Ben’s article outing Jim Grant as Nick Sloan, the news receives media attention. So much that Sharon Solarz will grant one media interview and that would be with Ben. And through the interview, Ben learns that in the Weather Underground, they fought for what they believed in, against big corporations and the government. When Ben tries to ask about Jim Grant/Nick Sloan, she reveals that Nick and another member named Mimi were a couple.
As the FBI led by FBI Agent Cornelius (portrayed by Terrence Howard) try to find Nick Sloan, Jim is meeting up with former Weather Underground members for some reason. Meanwhile, Ben starts to wonder why Nick/Jim’s actions is not of a guilty man but appears that he’s trying to look for someone. Could that someone be a person that may have information that Jim/Nick is innocent of his crime?
“The Company You Keep” is presented in 1080p High Definition (2:40:1). There are many scenes that are shot outdoors and so, outdoor scenes are colorful and vibrant. Closeup of characters faces provide quite a bit of detail, colors are warm and black levels during darker scenes are nice and deep, didn’t notice any crush, artifacts or banding. If anything, picture quality for this film on Blu-ray is very good!
AUDIO & SUBTITLES:
“The Company You Keep” is presented in English 5.1 DTS-HD MA. The film is primarily dialogue driven but there are moments where crowd ambiance or police vehicles or helicopters are heard through the surround channels. For the most part, dialogue and music is crystal clear through the center and front channels and the lossless soundtrack is appropriate for this film.
Subtitles are in English and English SDH.
“The Company You Keep” comes with the following special features:
- Behind the Scenes: The Movement – (12:14) Interviews with the cast and behind-the-scenes footage from the film.
- Behind the Scenes: The Script, Preparation and the Cast – (17:52) The cast talks about the unfinished script that was being modified, preparation to adapt the novel to a film and casting.
- On the Red Carpet – (2:20) A look at the cast and crew on the red carpet for “The Company You Keep”.
- The Company You Keep Press Conference – (13:19) An press conference with Robert Redford, Jackie Evancho, Stanley Tucci and Brit Marling.
- Theatrical Trailer – (2:12) Theatrical trailer for “The Company You Keep”.
A riveting political action thriller featuring an all-star cast!
Director, producer and actor Robert Redford does a wonderful job as the main character on the run from the FBI in order to prove his innocence.
“The Company You Keep” does draw comparisons to one of the biggest news stories of the early ’70s, Patty Hearst and the Symbionese Liberation Army.
A real life story that took place in the early ’70s which captured America, in which the Hearst newspaper heiress was kidnapped in 1974 by the SLA and two months later, was seen as a new member of the SLA and were seen robbing banks. Hearst was described as a victim of Stockholm Syndrome (when hostages express sympathy or empathy for their captors), she was caught and arrested alongside Wendy Yoshimura, another SLA member who was involved a bank heist gone bad and a customer named Myrna Opsahl was shot and killed. Various members have remained fugitives for years, one member Kathleen Ann Soliah lived as a housewife under the name Sara Jane Olson but was arrested in 2001 as being part of the crime (and was later released after seven years in prison).
In the case of “The Company You Keep”, the Weather Underground has similarities with the SLA but were created as a voice to retaliate against the Vietnam War and in this case, take action for what they believed in.
But for “The Company You Keep”, there is a twist. The main character of Jim/Nick was a member of the Weather Underground and is wanted for his role in the murder of a security guard.
The film tries to build sympathy for Jim, the upstanding citizen/lawyer, widowed father raising his young 11-year-old daughter. Until it was revealed that he is a wanted man for a bank robbery/murder that happened 30-years ago. While the film plays out like a cat and mouse game as the FBI agents are on the move to capture him, because there are a number of Weather Underground members across America, Jim/Nick tries to meet up with each of them in order to find a woman named Mimi.
Meanwhile, the reporter Ben Shepard who was responsible for outting Jim Grant as Nick starts to wonder why Jim’s actions are not of a person who is guilty and trying to run away. The pieces left behind appear as he is trying to prove his innocence. And the more Ben starts to dig and learn about the secrets of the Weather Underground, the more he learns that many people’s live can be destroyed.
The film benefits from its riveting storyline and its all-star cast.
Robert Redford does a good job playing the stoic character but also showing that he has what it takes to quickly climb a gate at 76-years-old, playing the role of a man who is in his late 50’s or 60’s, so I give Redford credit that even now, he still has it within him to play these action roles, he even takes his shirt off onscreen. I know many critics felt Redford was much too old to play this role, but if we didn’t know he was 76, would anyone ever question him playing the role? Probably not.
Shia LaBeouf plays the job of an ambitious reporter very well, maybe a bit too well as he is always a step-ahead of the FBI and a guy who appears to have done quite well in sweet talking with the ladies, the role is probably the most mature role I have seen LaBeouf play since his 2005 golfing film “The Great Game Ever Played”.
While each of the star talents featured in the film have short roles, for me, it added to the enjoyment of the film (especially for the fact that he was able to get these talents on a smaller budget). Susan Sarandon, Nick Nolte, Richard Jenkins as a former WU members, Stanley Tucci as the editor, Anna Kendrick and Terrence Howard as the FBI agents and the “Britain Got Talent” music star, Brit Marling as an adopted daughter of a former police investigator that was investigating the bank heist case in the past, Jackie Evancho as the daughter of Jim Grant, and more!
But I did enjoy the film on how it takes on ’60s radicalism but also discussing the carelessness of modern journalism. If the film came out 20-years ago, I would have felt this film would have an amazing impact. For the American extremist groups that came out of the Vietnam War, there are those who were alive to remember how things were back in the ’70s. People who remember the Patty Hearst case or even Jane Fonda voicing her opinion on Vietnam War, people who remember a time when people were passionate to fight about what they believed in, despite some engaging in tactics that were wrong.
But now, some groups around the world have gone beyond using words to debate what they believed in. In today’s world, when we hear extremism, we worry about how far these people will go not to fight or hurt corporations and governments but hurting innocent lives as a revenge against American political behavior.
Sarandon’s role as Sharon Solarz tries to emphasize during an interview between her and the reporter Ben Shepard, that they fought in what they believed in. When she asks Ben the same question, part of me felt there was a message that young people were more vocal then than they are now. Meanwhile, a juxtaposition of Jim/Nick’s character who seems to have grown up from his former group and realized that being vocal is good but taking part in dangerous, risky and criminal tactics was wrong.
As for the Blu-ray release, picture quality for the film is very good with wonderful detail upon closeups of the characters, I saw no artifacts or banding. As for its lossless audio track, dialogue is crystal clear but this is not an action film. Sure, you get moments of a helicopter flying above or police cars with sirens on, chasing another car. But one should not expect any major action scenes from Redford, aside from the actor jumping a fence. There are a few special features included with the Blu-ray release, especially a press conference with Redford and a few of the talents of the film.
Overall, “The Company You Keep” is a riveting political action thriller featuring an all-star cast! It’s an exciting, smart film that will no doubt entertain you from beginning to end.
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