1996, Movie, R, 140 mins


The dullest movie ever made about child abuse, conspiracy and murder. Shakes (Jason Patric), Michael (Brad Pitt), Tommy (Billy Crudup) and John (Ron Eldard) grew up in the same tough New York neighborhood and spent a hellish year together in the Wilkinson Home for Boys, where they were systematically beaten, humiliated and sexually abused by sadistic guards. As adults, Tommy and John -- who've grown up into murderous gangbangers -- happen upon the worst of their tormentors (Kevin Bacon) in a local bar, and shoot him in cold blood. Michael, now a junior D.A., prosecutes the case with an eye to making sure his friends go free, and Shakes helps him out. What's apparently meant to be a grim meditation on lost innocence and the poisonous nature of revenge -- we assume this on the basis of the somber tone and dreary color scheme -- is instead a bloated bore of a movie in which nothing happens that isn't first shown and then described in voice-over. Like the book on which it was based, which was promoted as a nonfiction memoir and had its veracity vociferously challenged on several fronts, this picture feels patently, crudely false from start to finish. Robert De Niro sleepwalks his way through the role of a hoodlum priest whose moral dilemma is singularly unpersuasive and utterly uninteresting. leave a comment

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