The Company You Keep

April 7th, 2013


The Company You Keep

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A thriller centered on a former Weather Underground activist who goes on the run from a journalist who has discovered his identity.

Release Year: 2012

Rating: 6.3/10 (775 voted)

Director: Robert Redford

A thriller centered on a former Weather Underground activist who goes on the run from a journalist who has discovered his identity.

Writers: ,


Official Website: Official site

Release Date:

Filming Locations: Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada

Technical Specs

Runtime: |

User Review

Halfway failed thriller

Rating: 6/10

I saw this film at the Ghent filmfestival 2012. It was not part of the official selection nor the official competition section, but rather put in a "miscellaneous" section called Previews.

A considerable part of the story line is about the contrast between a resourceful young journalist who finds out interesting things on his own devices, compared with the FBI continuously running behind the facts. Both stories run in parallel, thereby creating some weak form of tension, but not too much while it is obvious that the eager journalist will win the race eventually. We've seen a plot model like this many times before, and variants thereof in the form of an amateur detective versus the police. In other words, not very original, but it works here only to a certain degree. Some of the time I even found it a bit of a stretch, wondering why the young journalist had so much luck in his discoveries.

A more interesting topic is how the past comes back to bite our main character. In his younger years when the underground movement where he belonged to, undertook several illegal actions, each participant could depend on the others to keep things secret. The anti-Vietnam movement as of 30 years ago probably will not ring a bell with most modern viewers, failing to appreciate how radical some such actions were at the time. It went much further than the rather peaceful movements we saw recently, like Occupy and the like. In other words: we would call them "terrorists" nowadays. Placing bombs and killing adversaries were tools of the trade, when deemed necessary in view of the greater good.

Our main character (Jim Grant, played by Robert Redford, starring in his own movie) has a new identity since a failed bank robbery, where people were killed and video images suggest that Jim shot someone in the process. An eager young journalist happens to unravel some loose ends, and partly finds out what has been hidden for more than 30 years. This starts two parallel chases after Jim, one by the journalist (Ben Shepard) and an other one by the FBI. Most of the time we see the FBI always behind the facts (might be construed as intentional satire). The route Jim follows as a fugitive, looks random at first sight, but in fact rounds up a series of former team members to find out who really did the killing he is still accused of. For spoiler's sake I won't go further with summarizing the story line. The basic ingredients can be derived from the above.

All in all, I found a lot to be desired for a movie labeled "thriller". Indeed, there is a reasonable amount of tension throughout, where one wonders what will happen next. However, I saw several things happen that seem far fetched, too much for my taste. That applies to Jim's route he follows as a refugee, as well as the hunt by journalist Ben. Both are running far too smooth, a bit unrealistic given the circumstances. When one looks for a thriller deservedly labeled as such, I can think of several better choices.


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