The Company You Keep Review
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Not every Hollywood legend is like Clint Eastwood. While the hard-working octogenarian continues to crank out one high-profile release after another, others prefer to take it a little easier. Robert Redford, for instance, simply gathers his friends together from time to time for a low-key crime drama like The Company You Keep.

Thirty years ago, members of the Weather Underground—a radical group of anti-war activists—were involved in a bank job that resulted in the death of a security guard. They’ve been on the FBI’s Most Wanted list ever since—so it’s a shock when one of the fugitives, Sharon Solarz (Susan Sarandon), is arrested in New York.

Sharon’s arrest reignites the media’s interest in the case. But as all of the major outlets hunt for the next big scoop, Ben Shepard (Shia LaBeouf), a young reporter for the Albany Sun Times, manages to uncover the identity of Nick Sloan (Robert Redford), another one of the fugitives, who’s been living in Albany. Nick leaves his [shockingly young] daughter behind and goes on the run—and as the FBI tries to track him, Ben digs deeper into his story.

He may not be the kind of director who attracts automatic award season buzz, but when Robert Redford decides to make another movie, he obviously doesn’t have a problem finding a decent cast. The Company You Keep is a who’s who of Hollywood through the years, with everyone from Nick Nolte to Stanley Tucci to Anna Kendrick stepping into supporting roles. Of course, not every cast member gives a stand-out performance. Shia LaBeouf’s shaggy mane and patchy facial hair make it impossible to take the self-important young reporter seriously, and indie darling Brit Marling is as awkwardly dry as ever. But, for the most part, the more experienced members of the cast step up their game for their celebrated boss. And that alone makes the film worth a look.

The story, meanwhile, moves rather slowly, but it’s still a suspenseful tale of secrets and lies. There’s obviously more to Nick Sloan than it originally seems. His story is neither simple nor straightforward—and each new revelation adds another piece to the picture of who he was, who he is now, and how the years have changed him and the people he once knew.

The problem, then, is the conclusion. After such a long and intriguing build up, it all falls apart. The characters turn on a dime to do things that people only do in the most ill-conceived made-for-TV movies. There’s no apparent reason—and no explanation—for their seemingly random actions. And then the credits roll, leaving you to wonder if Redford couldn’t find the money that he needed to make the real conclusion, so he just slapped something together and called it good.

The clumsy conclusion of The Company You Keep really is a shame—because the rest of the film is an unhurried but absorbing kind of mystery. See it for the cast—but brace yourself for the disappointing end.

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