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The Company You Keep
: Or: This Is the Plot of Sneakers, Right?
Stop me if you've seen this one before and loved it when you were 12 or so: Robert Redford plays an ex-radical type, now laying low under an assumed name, until someone turns up with information about his past, inspiring a lot of sneaking around. Where Redford's latest directing vehicle departs from his last great movie-star picture is its approach: like other Redford movies, it's serious-minded, with great interest in the Issues Raised by this totally made-up story about the actual radical group the Weather Underground. The problem is, as with Redford's other Issue movies that fail to replicate the alchemy of Quiz Show
, the movie's themes are explored through respectable, well-intentioned, and mostly pretty rote filmmaking. It's compelling enough in the moment, but doesn't add up to much; so basically, it's like watching a less exciting Sneakers
that thinks it's provoking thought. One area where Company You Keep
trounces its otherwise vastly superior popcorn sibling is its ensemble, and I say this with a great deal of affection for the '92 ragtag team of Redford, Sidney Potier, Dan Aykroyd, David Strathairn, River Phoenix, and Mary McDonnell (plus bonus affection points for Stephen Tobolowsky!). But in 2013, Redford has recruited Susan Sarandon, Julie Christie, Brit Marling, Richard Jenkins, Anna Kendrick, Terrence Howard, Nick Nolte, Stanley Tucci, Chris Cooper, Sam Elliott, Brendan Gleeson, and Stephen Root to back him up (oh, and the movie actually co-stars Shia LaBeouf, but why dwell on that?). Marling, Jenkins, and Gleeson take best-in-show; admittedly, several of the others don't have much to do, though I'd be hard-pressed to name any movie where more than a dozen very recognizable faces all have substantial stuff to do. It's why you don't need to cast every speaking role with a famous person!