Popcorn Preview: The Company You Keep

04/13/2013 06:38 pm ET | Updated Jun 13, 2013

Film: The Company You Keep (2012)
Cast includes: Robert Redford (Spy Game), Shia LaBeouf (Transformers), Julie Christie (Finding Neverland), Susan Sarandon (Dead Man Walking), Nick Nolte (Cape Fear), Chris Cooper (The Bourne Identity), Terrence Howard (Iron Man), Stanley Tucci (The Devil Wears Prada), Richard Jenkins (Six Feet Under), Anna Kendrick (Up in the Air), Brendan Gleeson (Gangs of New York), Sam Elliot (The Big Lebowski), Brit Marlin (Arbitrage)
Director: Robert Redford (The Conspirator, Quiz Show)
Genre: Drama | Thriller (125 minutes)

A montage of news footage takes us back to 1969... the anti-war protests, the violence and finally a bank robbery where the guard is killed. Thirty years later, the headlines are about the surrender and arrest of Sharon Solarz, a Weather Underground member who participated in the robbery. But it wasn't the Albany Sun Times that broke the story. "A national story right in our own back yard..." What does Ray have to do to get a reporter to do his jobs? Doesn't Ben Shepard have a friend in the FBI field office? "You think just because we hooked up in college, I'm gonna give you access to FBI wiretaps?" says Diana. "Wiretaps?" Damn! Before he's back on the street, Ben's latched on to other clues, as well. He's like a dog after a bone. And he's got a bone to pick with Jim Grant... he knows Grant's hiding something. Grant's the most likely lawyer to handle Solarz's defense, but he claims he doesn't have time... wife recently died... 12-year-old daughter, Isabel.

"You look weird, Daddy." Isabel can tell when her dad's lying. Ben's sniffed out a lead... a license plate number, some well-placed cash, one clue leads to another... and Ben figures out that Jim Grant didn't exist before 1979. On the other hand, Nick Sloan did exist... he was one of the bank robbers, and he totally disappeared. But he does have an uncanny resemblance to Jim Grant. When the story breaks in the Albany Sun Times, Grant goes to the back of the closet and pulls out an old leather jacket with a new identity and enough money for a new start. The FBI is not happy about getting scooped, but they agree to let Ben interview Solarz. "Why did you want to turn yourself in after all this time? Conscience? Remorse?" "Nice to see the world so cleanly," she says. "Didn't you? Back then?" Solarz thinks she recognizes a revolutionary spirit in Ben... it's just that times are different. "What would you be willing to take a risk for?" she asks. Ben can't answer that question just yet.

While the FBI is hot on the trail of Sloan, Ben realizes that Sloan isn't behaving like a man trying to escape. Sloan is on a hunt of his own. What or whom is Sloan searching for? Ben's on the trail of clues... where ever they may lead. As it turns out, the film takes us from New York to California and back again. Robert Redford as director and lead actor hasn't lost the knack for great storytelling. The cast may read like a who's who of senior-citizen A-list actors, but this well-developed thriller keeps us engaged right up to the end... even though it has no high-intensity car chases, explosions or computer effects. It does pit a relentless investigative journalist against the full resources of the FBI. "We're bringing these people down," says Agent Cornelius. "I hope I don't find you in my way."

4 popped kernels (Scale: 0-4)
When a young newspaper reporter uncovers the identity of a Weather Underground activist, it triggers a nationwide manhunt

Popcorn Profile
Rated: R (Violence, crime)
Audience: Grown-ups
Distribution: Mainstream wide release
Mood: Neutral
Tempo: Zips right along
Visual Style: Nicely varnished realism
Character Development: Engaging
Language: True to life
Social Significance: Pure entertainment & Thought provoking

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