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The Company You Keep: Worth a short visit 

**1/2

THE COMPANY YOU KEEP
**1/2
DIRECTED BY Robert Redford
STARS Robert Redford, Shia LaBeouf

THE FUGITIVE: Jim Grant (Robert Redford) is a wanted man in The Company You Keep. (Photo: Sony Pictures Classics)
  • THE FUGITIVE: Jim Grant (Robert Redford) is a wanted man in The Company You Keep. (Photo: Sony Pictures Classics)

There's a musty smell surrounding The Company You Keep, director-star Robert Redford's drama about a small-time lawyer who's forced to go on the lam after he's outed as a murderous 1970s radical. Redford, an admirable progressive in real life, used to routinely channel his politics into his pictures — All the President's Men and Three Days of the Condor are two of his great films in this vein — and this latest effort feels like an AARP-sanctioned update of those pictures, only with the teeth missing. It also includes many scenes set at a newspaper office where editors bark at staff members in the trusty Perry White-Jimmy Olsen manner and where reporters tend to do most of their research on microfilm machines, only remembering every once in a while that there are computers parked on their desks. As for the climax, it doesn't crackle with excitement as much as shuffle with purpose, like a diner waitress taking an order on a slow weekday night.

Redford stars as Jim Grant, a widower raising his daughter (Jackie Evancho) while doing plenty of pro bono work. The arrest of a suburban housewife (Susan Sarandon) who turns out to be a former member of the Weather Underground's more radical branch — a reactionary involved with a bank heist that left a guard dead — prompts smug young reporter Ben Shepard (Shia LaBeouf) to aggressively pursue the story, and he eventually discovers that Jim Grant is actually Nick Sloan, who's been wanted all this time for his participation in the bank job. Jim/Nick is forced to go on the run, but is he trying to merely escape capture or is he seeking evidence that will clear his name?

Redford, whose 1994 directorial effort Quiz Show remains one of the unsung masterpieces of its decade, and scripter Lem Dobbs (Haywire), adapting Neil Gordon's novel, have created a perfectly respectable film that's fairly intelligent until it elects to insult our intelligence with an obvious, unlikely and lazy denouement that would have been predictable even 40 years ago. Rather than the story, the source of strength in this picture comes from its amazing cast, almost equal to any ever seen in a Woody Allen flick or one of those all-star idiocies from the seventies. In addition to Redford and Sarandon (and, oh yeah, little LaBeouf), the film also features Nick Nolte, Julie Christie, Stanley Tucci, Brendan Gleeson, Anna Kendrick, Chris Cooper and a half-dozen other performers of recognizable name value. Clearly, Redford has no trouble drawing talent; if he's ever interested in remaking Meteor or Midnight in Paris, he's halfway there.

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Related Films

The Company You Keep
Rated R · 125 min. · 2013
Official Site: www.sonyclassics.com/thecompanyyoukeep
Director: Robert Redford
Writer: Lem Dobbs
Producer: Nicolas Chartier, Bill Holderman and Robert Redford
Cast: Robert Redford, Shia LaBeouf, Julie Christie, Sam Elliott, Jackie Evancho, Brendan Gleeson, Terrence Howard, Richard Jenkins, Anna Kendrick and Brit Marling

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