The Company You Keep

Directed By: Robert Redford

Starring: Robert Redford, Shia LaBeouf, Julie Christie, Susan Sarandon, Jackie Evancho, Brendan Gleeson, Brit Marling, Anna Kendrick, Terrence Howard, Richard Jenkins, Nick Nolte, Sam Elliott, Stephen Root, Keegan Connor Tracy, Stanley Tucci, and Chris Cooper

Robert Redford has been a busy man as of late.  He's joining the Marvel Cinematic Universe as Nick Fury's boss in Captain America: Winter Soldier.  He'll be appearing in survival thriller All Is Lost later this year.  He even has an indie flick out right now in theaters called The Company You Keep.  While it's a solidly entertaining old school thriller starring and directed by Redford, it has its flaws.

When peaceful protests against the US government were proven ineffective during Vietnam in the 60s and 70s, a group known as the Weather Underground Organization formed and began bombing government buildings.  Led by the notorious Nick Sloan, Mimi Lurie, and Sharon Solarz, the group executed a number of successful attacks including the robbery of a Michigan bank that resulted in the death of a guard.  After the bombing of the bank, the group was branded as a terrorist organization.  Everyone went into hiding, and began new lives.  Thirty years later in Albany, New York, Sharon Solarz (Susan Sarandon) is arrested by the FBI for her role in Weather Undergroun, and old secrets have now come back to haunt the group.

With the capture of Solarz, the media is awash with stories.  The only exception is The Albany Sun-Times, a failing newspaper with a golden story unfolding in its backyard.  The Times’ editor Ray Fuller (Stanley Tucci) tasks his staffer Ben Shepard (Shia LaBeouf) with reporting on this story.  When widower attorney Jim Grant (Robert Redford) refuses a request from his friend Billy Cusimano (Stephen Root) to take Sharon's case, Ben finds out and makes a note of this in his article on Solarz's arrest.  Beyond this, Jim is harboring a secret, the fact that he is the former head of the Weather Underground Organization Nick Sloan.  Through some diligent investigative journalism, the curious Ben uncovers this secret and publishes it in the paper.  Now, the world knows it, and Agent Cornelius (Terrence Howard) of the FBI is gunning for Grant/Sloan, who has an 11 year-old daughter named Isabel (Jackie Evancho) whom he doesn’t wish to drag into this mess.

The Company You Keep is a solidly entertaining thriller that harkens back to the old days.  The 76 year-old actor-director is on his game throughout the movie.  Redford shows that he still has the charm to be a leading man on the big screen and still has a savvy eye behind the camera.  With one of the largest, most star-studded casts I've seen for an indie production in quite some time, he has some of the best talent in the business at his disposal, and Redford puts them all to good use.  If the movie has a fatal flaw, it's that Robert Redford goes old school all the way in this one.  The film may be set in the present day, but it doesn't feel like it at all.  The Company You Keep is definitely one for an older crowd.

Every time I look up during The Company You Keep, I see some familiar face.  Whether it be Chris Cooper, Julie Christie, or Anna Kendrick, there's plenty of star power of all ages in this flick, and they're all delightful in their own ways.  At the forefront of the cast, we have Robert Redford and Shia LaBeouf.  For his part, Redford gives us the screen legend we all know and love.  It's a straightforward leading role in which a father doesn't want his dark past to keep him from raising his daughter.  LaBeouf, on the other hand, gives us the same annoying character we get in all his movies.  He gives the only stale performance in the movie.

As much as I enjoyed The Company You Keep, it's too predictable.  You can call every major plot twist at least a half hour before it happens.  That's not the way to make this movie a thrilling thriller.  It certainly doesn't help either that all of Redford's actors deliver their lines with the same pace and the same brand of cheesy, somewhat dated wit.  Homogeneity in their performances only compounds the issue of predictability.  Altogether, these two issues make each scene more akin to radio dialogue.  You can close your eyes and just listen to everything the actors say and not miss a beat.  It's like listening to the radio.  That's just a little too old school for me.

The ending wasn't totally satisfying, but I won't harp on that.  All in all, The Company You Keep is fun, earnest entertainment that takes us back to the simpler films of the good old days.  With a healthy dose of some screen legends of old, all you need is a couple of glasses of Pinot Grigio.  The Company You Keep gets a 0.06% rating.