James Foley’s oedipal crime drama is a coruscating paean to the power of screen performance. Foley (Glengarry Glen Ross) is an efficient director, and this tale (based on a true story) of Pennsylvania mobster Brad Whitewood (Christopher Walken) and his estranged son Brad Jr (Sean Penn) is executed with rhythmic precision, from first casual encounter to closing operatic confrontation. Similarly, Nicholas?son of Elia?Kazan’s screenplay is suitably tragic, with nods to his father’s On The Waterfront (especially in the Grand Jury scenes). And yet, surrounded by a gallery of character chic including Crispin Glover, Kiefer Sutherland and David Strathairn, it’s Messrs Walken and Penn who define this movie. Walken is the devil himself, with big blinkless eyes and creamy adenoidal whisper, while Penn is a gripping study of bullish self-hatred. When threatened with a beating that will knock the “bejesus” out of him, he replies, thumping his chest, tearfully, “There ain’t no Jesus in here!” Genius
DVD EXTRAS: Trailer.